Friends

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I had a great birthday weekend. There wasn’t one big over-the-top event, but lots of little things that added up over the course of three days.

Friday, August 17 was my actual birthday. Someone asked me what Adelaide got me for my birthday, and I said, “She got me up at 6:30am,” which is true.  Not super early or unusual, but earlier than I would’ve liked. I love when she sleeps in until 7:00am.

Anyway, a 6:30am rise meant that I had plenty of time to open presents and birthday cards in bed. Tim got me some cool earrings that I think I’ve worn every day since I received them. I had saved the gift my parents gave me when they were here and the cards I received in the mail and opened them all that morning.

That afternoon Tim met me at work and took me out for lunch. We went to XIX (Nineteen) on the 19th floor of the Bellevue Hotel. They have a lovely prefix lunch where they have a table of salads and antipasto to help yourself for a first course. Then, you choose one of five entrees for a second course. There is another table with mini deserts, cookies and fresh fruit for the third course. I had the XIX steak as my entree and Tim had the fish of the day, a blackened catfish. It was a beautiful view and a lovely meal. Tim told the server it was my birthday, so they surprised me at the end of the meal with a complementary glass of sparkling wine. Happy birthday to me, indeed.

By coincidence, my office closed early that day. A lot of people were out on vacation, so my boss decided we would close up shop at 2:30pm.  I picked Adelaide up from daycare a couple of hours early, and we went back downtown for a play date with my friend Brooke and her son Jack. Brooke was in town for the Livestrong Challenge. Her sister Amy is the inspiring friend I’ve mentioned several times on my blog. Our Livestrong team walked in her memory.

Jack is exactly 1 month younger than Adelaide and Brooke and her husband moved to Pittsburgh just a few months before she became pregnant with Jack. We don’t see each other often, but we’ve been email confidants throughout our pregnancies and through the first year of motherhood. For my birthday, we met in Rittenhouse Square and went to Cosi for dinner. It was great to visit with them in person, and Brooke even picked up a couple of birthday cupcakes from Pamcakes to help me celebrate.

 Saturday morning was the Livestrong Challenge. Despite having poor directions from Google Maps that made me late, I still got there in time to push Adelaide in the stroller for the 5K walk. I walked fast and about halfway through I caught up with the other walkers from our team. Those who ran the 5K were there at the finish line to cheer us on and have breakfast with us.

Saturday night Adelaide’s Uncle Ben and Aunt Adrienne came over to babysit while Tim and I went out to a birthday movie. We saw the new Batman at the IMAX theater. It was both Tim’s and my first IMAX feature film. We liked the movie, and it was fun to see it on such a big screen–the audio was amazing. But to tell you the truth, I left the theater uncomfortable. I had to look up, almost to the ceiling, for most of the movie and the chairs weren’t very comfortable. By the end of the nearly three- hour movie, I had a crick in my neck and my back hurt. Yes, I know, the irony is not lost on the fact that this complaining is stereotypical of someone who is getting older.

Sunday, I had the good fortune to spend the afternoon with another visiting out-of-town friend and her daughter. I know Andie from grad school, and I don’t think I’ve seen her since the summer after we graduated in 2006. Her daughter is two, so it was fun for me to see what I have to look forward to in the upcoming months.  As writers, Andie and I have been in contact periodically over the years, usually touching base to nurture the writers in us.

It was a fantastic birthday weekend surrounded by the love of family and friends. I’m a lucky lady ready to see what this next trip around the sun has in store for me.

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Facebook did it again. It just blew my mind with an update that made me feel pangs of love and excitement and extreme sadness all at once. I just found out that a friend of mine, an old roommate and close girlfriend during my grad school years, had a beautiful baby girl. How wonderful! Congratulations! But, the tears well in my eyes because I didn’t even know she was pregnant. Tim and I saw this friend and her husband just a little over a year ago. We stayed with them one night when we were in Boston. He cooked a wonderful salmon; we went to a trendy Harvard Square bar and tried new beers; we talked late into the night. Tim and I marveled at how easy the conversation came, at how much we liked them and felt as if no time had passed although it had been a couple of years since we’d seen them. Since that time there have been a couple of email exchanges. I emailed to tell her I was pregnant. We sent them a birth announcement when Adelaide was born. I don’t blame my friends for not notifying me of their news. I have to admit I haven’t been the best about keeping in touch. Still, it breaks my heart to know that I missed out on this life altering event that has taken up so much of their emotional energy this year. If I had known, we could have used each other as pregnancy confidants. I’m sure we’ll see them again – our girls will play together and once again the conversation will come so easily that it will feel as if no time has passed. It just makes me sad to be reminded that people grow apart, that friendships change and sometimes, Facebook is an annoying reminder of this.

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This is the first of what could prove to be a series of special posts featuring my talented friends – I have so many of them!

Erin and I have been friends since waiting tables together the summer of 1998.  We worked at a small Mediterranean restaurant and would often be the only two servers working a given shift. When it was slow, we’d exchange life stories over feta-stuffed pita and diet coke. We would fold cloth napkins for what seemed like hours and wonder how it was that we hadn’t met before.

Our friendship blossomed the following summer after we’d graduated and Erin was away doing summer stock theater in Michigan. Through letters, we shared boy drama and fears about heading out into “the real world.” Yeah, hand-written letter writing. The real deal.

At the end of that summer, we decided to pack up my little Ford Tempo and move together from Southern Indiana and Michigan to Portland, Oregon. Erin’s brother lived there, so although we were as naive as any 22-year-olds could be, we had a destination and a place to live once we got there. Together, we started an amazing, and often times ridiculous, adventure.

Erin is one of the main “characters” in my MFA memoir thesis project (we have some good stories from those months together), but over the last 13 years, Erin and my friendship has changed as we have grown. Although I don’t see her or talk to her nearly enough, she was the officiant at my wedding and is still one of my very best friends.

This spring, Erin started a project called MAS Nashville.  It started out as a Mutual Admiration Society, but the name also signifies Mas, meaning more. More talent. More variety. More opportunity. More community.  Erin is an actress and singer, and she got tired of waiting around for other people to invite her to get involved in cool, inspiring projects.  So, she decided to create her own opportunity with a group of women that she admired vocally.  Together, the five women created a one-time-only cabaret performance. It sold out, so they committed to an encore performance.

Today, appropriate for the holiday, Erin sent me a link to their arrangement of Katy Perry’s “Firework.” Watching the video moved me to tears.  Granted, I’m an 8-month-pregnant lady, but still… it just made me even more sad that I live so far away and wasn’t able to see the show in its entirety.

Happy 4th of July! (Erin is the second one from the left.)

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