My birthday was Saturday. I’ve said it before– I like my birthday. The version of chronic -Jewish- sadness that I often, unconsciously carry with me lifts entirely; the world looks good and often my world looks really, really good on my birthday. This year was exactly that way.
I decided I wanted to go home to the Midwest for this birthday, and because of various scheduling things, my daughter and I traveled without my partner. We left last Thursday afternoon to go to be with my sister and my two nephews in Milwaukee where they live. (Chicago, not Milwaukee, is my hometown, but Milwaukee and Wisconsin are my second home; I lived in Madison WI for 10 years.)
When we arrived my sister had me make a list of all the things I hoped to do on my birthday trip and we did some and not others, but I loved thinking about all the things I might like to do and having it considered by all. Things listed and done: I got a great haircut– shorter than in a while and I got in a great workout at the JCC while my daughter and nephew went swimming. My mother came up from her home in Chicago on Saturday. She will turn 80 in the fall for which there will be a really big celebration.
I forgot my camera, and still don’t have an Iphone so no beautiful photos of the lake or my good family or even of my older nephew dressed up in his rendition of Harry Potter attire for the opening of the last Harry Potter movie.
On Friday I sat for a while in a coffee shop with my older nephew, while my sister and younger nephew took N, my daughter, to the independent bookstore next door, with her own wallet with her own money in it. My sister told me later that it wasn’t easy to find something for only $14.00 which is what my daughter had, but that my daughter insisted that she would not take money from her aunt. She wanted to buy a present for me herself and she did. Then I had a great work out at the JCC and we all went to a play.
On Saturday morning– my actual birthday– my daughter was, in fact, the only person with an actual gift to hand to me which she did, first thing in the morning. I have no complaint about the absence of other material gifts; we now live in the world too busy, too much going on, and so, so many things cluttering our minds and our homes. But I see in my daughter, a kind of care that she takes about people, me included, that touches me.
Saturday morning we all ended up at Alterra, another of several great Milwaukee coffee shops– and I got an excellent cappuccino after we walked on Lake Michigan. When I am in Chicago, or Milwaukee or Door County, Wisconsin, and as more birthdays come and go, I remember that Lake Michigan is, to me, the most beautiful body of water. I’ve been to the great Atlantic and Pacific Oceans too many times to count and to many other magnificent bodies of water on this earth, but Lake Michigan is gorgeous and it is where I looked out and dreamed things as a very young person and now as an older person too.
Later we went to see my younger nephew performed in a small mandolin orchestra. He has been learning for a year, and was the only young person in the group. And in the evening with all of us joined by some cousins who I also love to see– there was dinner outdoors on a cool, light summer night and cake and ice cream and balloons (also courtesy of my daughter) back at home afterward.
On Sunday morning, when my daughter and I boarded our plane back home, I realized several things I love about 10 years old (her 10 years). She went to buy gum while I got coffee before boarding our plane. She carried her own backpack. Unrelated to being 10, she is, as she was from day 19 when we boarded a different Southwest flight to bring her from Texas to her new home–a wonderful traveler and unbeatable companion.
Home in the afternoon there was part two with women’s world cup soccer, and another party, this one with my partner, my 17-year-old niece who is living with us for a few weeks and friends from home. And cupcakes. I don’t need to carry cupcakes with me daily throughout the year, but I could really use to carry the good feeling of those four days.