When Jenny and I were dating, one of my favorite things was to send her pictures of sunrises and sunsets that I took while rowing or coaching. It was fitting that I was on the water to meet the sunrise this morning, when for just a moment the sun hit the clouds from beneath and bathed the river and everything around with preternatural pink hues. It was the first of many birthday opportunities to connect and reconnect with my favorite things from the present and past.
I called home while driving back from coaching and Elena was already anxious for me to be quick so that I could open presents. She had already tipped me off about one of them; it was the first one she wanted me to open: a new bike jersey. I hope I get to wear it several times before winter comes. I also got an under-seat bike bag, where I can keep my repair supplies and cell phone when I ride. As we enjoyed a breakfast of wheat pancakes and bacon I opened other presents, including new clothes and two DVDs. The DVDs brought back childhood memories: Donald in Mathmagic Land and Duck Tales: The Movie. It was only a few days ago that I was telling Elena about the Disney cartoons of my childhood, although I had been thinking of Chip and Dale, as we had just seen a chipmunk.
After hitting the yard sales we met some of my family at a pizza place for lunch, where my mom had put together a bucket filled with things that were my favorites at one time or another. Included were Skittles, pistachios, candy corns, a rubber ducky, and chocolate syrup to put in my milk. I do remember that a bag of Skittles was my item of choice on the rare occasions when I would buy from the vending machines in high school. I didn’t immediately remember liking chocolate milk so well, but as I reflect on that I think it was because I assumed that my preference for it was the norm; doesn’t everyone prefer the chocolate kind to regular milk?
We tried to remember what my birthday dinner of choice was, but couldn’t pin it down. There’s a good chance that it was either pizza or lasagna. I do remember that my mother had a recipe for ‘chocolate disappearing cake,’ which I requested several times. The name is meant to suggest that it’s so good that the speed with which people eat it makes it disappear. I don’t know if it was better than any other chocolate cake, but it seemed that way to me. My mother brought cupcakes to lunch; Elena did her best to make one disappear, as did we all.
After lunch we all took simultaneous naps, which is a rare occurrence recently. I assumed one of my favorite napping postures: lying in the front room with the TV on and tuned to a sporting event. Even better, the Texas Longhorns were playing and winning when I woke up. Roman and I watched the game while Jenny was in the kitchen working on dinner and decorating the cake and Elena bounced back and forth between the two rooms.
Jenny’s lasagna was especially extravagant because it had sausage and hamburger. There’s still plenty left, so anyone who wants to come over to share leftovers is more than welcome. Unless we get help taking care of it, we’ll enjoy it over the next several days. The same is true for the beautiful and delicious cake. Even though Elena would probably like to give it a go all by herself, we would appreciate assistance in eating the rest of it. Many thanks to all who contributed to my happy birthday, especially Jenny!