Frankly, I didn’t know what to expect this past weekend.
My birthday is December 16th, which this year falls on a Wednesday. Traditionally I celebrate by myself – meaning I go out and do something fun on my own – and with family the preceding weekend. Although last year I actually celebrated first with a “me thing,” then a night out with my boyfriend on Saturday, followed by Sunday afternoon with my family.
However, learning Grandpa’s cancer is back has put a damper on my birthday and the holidays. On one hand I want to celebrate as usual. Forgive me if I sound entitled, but after how this year has gone, I feel like I need to celebrate somehow and feel good. But on the other hand, doing something fun for me only just doesn’t seem appropriate while he’s nervous about his upcoming operation and what it means for the future.
Late last week I had a bad day, where stress and emotions got too heavy and I had to pause everything I was doing to calm down. Even though taking a day to pause does wonders to help me overcome the depressive, anxious feelings, the next day always comes. There’s still a dishwasher to unload, and laundry to be done, and who knows what else can happen that requires immediate cleanup. So even though it helps, I still lose a day and can’t help feeling cranky with myself for letting the emotions get to that original level.
Birthday weekend really started on Friday evening. My boyfriend’s business mentor has a dog that we’ve started walking for her – well okay, Sam has always walked the dog. I’ve just started tagging along about a week and a half ago. We got there and Sam needed to help her with a phone glitch, so I got to walk the pup by myself. My boyfriend and I joke about how he (the dog) prefers me to Sam, since I tend to “baby” animals. Pup and I had a pleasant walk, probably because I carried him and let him sniff every leaf in one yard.
I grew up having a menagerie of cats and dogs and animals have always been calming influences over me, since I have to get out of my own head to take care of them. Walking Pup on Friday, on an unseasonably mild early evening, reminded me that there’s so much more to the world than any issue I’m dealing with and that this too shall pass.
Cuddling a small dog also does wonders for the ol’ endorphins.
Saturday morning came and I was ready to have make the day mine. I enjoyed my coffee and squeezed in a resistance training session at the gym, which is something Depressed Me lets fall by the wayside. My annual birthday facial was at 9:30 with my esthetician Athena.
I can’t go into too much detail about what we talk about during our hour together, other than to confirm our senses of humor are both pretty bawdy and that there’s very little we can’t have fun talking about. I’m convinced Athena is magical, since she’s the only esthetician who can be so gentle with extractions and actually make them feel like a pleasant part of the experience instead of torturous.
We laughed way too much and walked downstairs to the registers together when Athena commented, “Oh, your mom called and paid for your facial, so you should be good to go.”
I was in shock, and that rarely happens. I couldn’t believe it, and the lady worked the register confirmed that my mother had called ahead the week before and paid for my service. I tipped Athena and immediately called my mom once I was in the parking lot to thank her.
The salon I went to – which incidentally is my regular place for hair color and everything else – is the Penzone Salon and Spa in Gahanna/New Albany. Turning out onto Cherry Bottom Road, then making a left on Morse Road and driving under the 270 bridge plops you out at Easton Town Center. It was early enough in the day and I figured since I was right there, I might as well get some last-minute Christmas shopping done for Sam.
Now, I have to make an Easton confession: anytime I’ve been there on a weekend, it’s only because Sam was with me and he was driving. Easton does attract a lot of visitors and for the longest time I could not work up the nerve to go to Easton on a Saturday in December by myself. In between parking, pedestrians and never knowing what to do at busy four-way intersections – who has the “right of way” again? – I always found the idea and actually doing it intimidating. But I couldn’t justify waiting until a weekday to drive back up when I was already there, so I held my breath and drove into Easton.
Two things happened. The first was that I found a parking space at Nordstrom far away from other cars and people. The second was that I got exactly what I needed where I needed it, on sale, and actually had fun walking around Easton. There weren’t a lot of people there, incredibly enough, and the atmosphere was light and festive. I got to wander inside Tiffany and Kate Spade for a bit, as well as the gigantic Barnes and Noble bookstore.
I’ve never outgrown being a bookworm.
On Saturday evening Sam and I decided to have a date night in. He made me a surf ‘n turf dinner of steak and shrimp with mashed potatoes and broccoli. Sam’s an incredible cook, and his steaks easily rival any restaurant’s. He’s also the only person who can cook shrimp in a way that I’d happily eat. Prior to meeting him, the handful of times I’d tried shrimp were awful, and I was a little skeptical when he would tell me, “You only don’t like shrimp because you’ve never had good shrimp. I know how to make it that you’ll like it.” He isn’t wrong.
My contribution was a homemade Black Forest cake that fell apart – we wound up throwing it away, but at least we had the surf ‘n turf going for us. And The Grinch with Jim Carrey was on Netflix. Can’t go wrong there.
Then came Sunday. I woke up with muscle soreness and was having a time moving around my apartment, although I was looking forward to seeing my family. We had a casual lunch and cake, which was far better than my concoction the night before. I didn’t have a lot in mind for birthday presents and was tickled with what I received. My mom has been getting me runner stuff for the past few years, and I didn’t expect both a hoodie and a t-shirt from Sarah Marie Design Studio. Or for my uncle to get me the beanie cap with the built-in headlamp I’d mentioned earlier this month.
Grandpa seemed to be in good spirits and was calm, which was something we were all wondering about and worrying over. Grandma seemed be doing well too, and for once I felt certain that somehow they’re going to be alright. As much as I enjoy cake and presents, I really needed to see my grandparents and know there’s some normalcy somewhere.
So overall, my birthday weekend was far better than I expected or even imagined. And I’m beyond grateful for it.
I hope you all have a great week ahead. Thanks for reading.