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Half Empty, Half Full.


There are two days each year that are important to me to celebrate: my birthday and Thanksgiving. There are many other days that are important to celebrate for various reasons, these are the two that are important to me. They are days of gathering loved ones, new friends, old friends, acquaintances, and all of those people's significant others. These are days of celebrating an arbitrary location around the sun that we encounter yearly. In a lifetime, you have two days where you can gather everyone you love, and the second time you are dead (the first time is your first wedding, if you haven't heard me say this before). Those are big ones. The yearly ones are more frequent, less grand, but still important to me.

My birthday is approaching. I asked Dena a couple weeks ago if we could celebrate my birthday with ice cream on their deck. Invite everyone I knew locally, have a chill dessert at her place, enjoy the first summer with the deck complete and the landscape starting to grow in. An evening of hanging out and being social.

I invited four people outside of her family. Two of them said no immediately. One bailed at 5:45 pm for a 6:30 dinner. One totally forgot the dinner and celebration.

As my group became smaller and smaller, I slid into memories of previous birthdays, comparing them to what Jonathan had this year. He refused to let me organize anything for any of his birthdays while we were together. This year, he had three birthday parties. My birthday events have become smaller and smaller and smaller each year. I was getting the birthdays he wanted. He was having the birthday I wanted. My birthday five years ago, which was my most recent major milestone, was a lovely but screwed up affair, a meal at a sushi restaurant that told me upon arriving that the chef I specifically requested was taking the night off. Jonathan, Matthew, and B were there. A far cry from the giant celebration I had dreamed of 20 years before.

My brain was not done reminding me of the celebrations I didn't have. I recalled the worst Thanksgiving I have had, spent alone in a small AirBnB apartment in Ottawa. I had flown to Ottawa to be with Jonathan on the holiday, but he declined to allow me to stay with him and declined to drive the 12 miles to spend the holiday with me downtown. A winter snow had arrived, and only one place within walking distance had pumpkin pie. I walked over in the falling snow, bought two small pumpkin pies, and ate them alone in my small dining room. In his defense, he did not know how important Thanksgiving is to me, it is THE family holiday in my family. However, the crap memories had started flowing, and would not stop.

In three trips to the car, I recalled more crap birthdays, ones with 2 people coming to my party, and a dozen cupcakes that I ate alone the next day (because you KNOW I did). I loaded up the ice cream base, my ice cream maker core, the honey lavender syrup I had made earlier, the sushi appetizer I had bought, and started the drive over to Grue and Dena's, the weight of loss and grief bearing down on me.

And, as it happens EVERY TIME I head over to their house, when I was about a third of the way to their place, my spirits lightened. I was going over to see three people I love dearly. My birthday celebration wasn't going to be a sucky birthday because 4 people weren't coming, it was going to be a lovely celebration because I was going to be with people who bring me / cause / create tremendous joy. I'm talking the kind of joy with the intensity of a thousand suns kind of joy. I was going to make ice cream with Dena and talk about our days and our weeks so far. I was going to have dinner with Grue and Dena and Rhys and talk about whatever came to mind about work or summer camp. Based on experience, we would laugh at something absurd, and tell the tale for years.

In the car, I realized I was going from a glass half empty to a glass very much more than half full. Yeah, I have had sucky birthday celebrations, but what adult hasn't?

I managed a celebration dinner with three amazing people who bring me much joy. MUCH joy. Yeah, that's a good celebration.

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