My most memorable birthday was my 20th. I don’t know what it is about me an odd-numbered ages, but I tend to enjoy them more. I think they have a nicer, sassier ring to them. On top of that, 20 just seemed like a really huge number and had so many meanings. I was no longer a teenager. In a year, I’d be considered a “legal” adult. My “youth” was over. Needless to say, I was bummed. To make matters worse, I was alone. I was living on campus at the time, and my good friend–my only friend on campus–had decided to attend school back in our hometown. My parents were not coming to visit that year, and so I had no one to celebrate with. I didn’t even have a car to take myself someplace. I decided to just skip this birthday. However, I had made another friend a few months back. His name was Aaron. He said that we originally met at a party, but I honestly did not remember him–and NOT because I partied hard. We reconnected on whatever the hot social networking site was at the time. He was a totally awesome guy who had morals, operated on spiritual principles, and was great to talk to. We talked ALL the time for hours on end about EVERYTHING. The greatest thing about it was that neither of us was trying to get with the other in a romantic way. This was one of the few truly platonic friendships I have ever had.
A week before my birthday Aaron and I were talking one night, and I just happened to mention that my birthday was coming up and I was not excited about it. He could not understand how someone would not be excited to celebrate another year of life. He gave me a friendly lecture, but I still was not feeling it. When he finally recognized that I was truly bummed, he told me not to make any plans for Saturday (my birthday) and keep the whole day open. I was not going to make plans anyway, but I was forewarned in case anyone else wanted to make plans for me. My only instructions were to meet him at the mall at the appointed time. True, the mall wasn’t huge, but “the mall” was a tad bit vague to be meeting someone I had never met–well, at least I didn’t recall meeting him. He did tell me what he would be wearing: a sweater, jeans, and Timberlands; But that description was very vague too. But, I hopped on the bus anyway and headed to the mall to find him. I waited and watched in the food court for a little while and did not find him. I decided that I needed to search for him. I had only known him for about two months, but I had learned a lot about him in that short time. If I was, Aaron where would I be, I thought. I mulled it over for a little while, and I decided that I should head toward the bookstore. I found a B. Dalton bookstore, and there he was!
“I was waiting to see if you would find me here,” he said with a touch of pride in his voice.
Before that day, I didn’t know that he did not have a car. Needless to say, I was very shocked to find out that we would spend the whole day traveling via bus and train to various places around the Metro Atlanta area. The first adventure was bowling. He remembered from one of our conversations that I liked to bowl. We threw the ball down the lane a few times as he talked about how he enjoyed being a Marine. After we had enough bowling, we started making our way to the next destination. While waiting for the bus, he handed me a box wrapped in red paper. At the time, red was my favorite color. I slowly unwrapped the box trying to imagine what was inside and why he bought me a gift. It was a bottle of my favorite perfume! I was very shocked that he remembered because that was a very random detail of another random conversation we had.
One of our ports of call was the West End. He showed me around Morehouse College. That was where he was attending school. Our next destination was Buckhead. That was the longest of all the train rides of the day, and he used that time to toy with my emotions. As I was taking in the scenery, he handed me a blue box. Not a Tiffany blue box, but a blue box nonetheless. Every woman knows what is inside of a blue box, and I was starting to get really nervous. It was a long, navy blue box, and I did not know what to make of it. I thought He’s buying me jewelry? Why is he buying me jewelry?? Does this dude like me?! I did not want to jump to conclusions, but it was all very strange. It was not that a guy who has a friend who is a girl cannot buy her jewelry, but, for the girl’s sake, the jewelry should not come in a blue box. You know how it is when a guy and his girlfriend are having a very important conversation, and he kneels down to tie his shoe and the girl nearly has a heart attack? Giving a girl a blue box is the same thing. Aaron saw that I was struggling with the decision to open the box, and he asked me if I was going to. I opened it, and there were two big 15-stick packs of my favorite gum. To be honest, it was a little strange, but I thought it was very cute. Just as I was feeling relieved that it was actually not jewelry, he threw another blue box into my lap. I was less nervous this time, but still a little confused. However, I opened it and there were four little 5-stick packs of my favorite gum. I thought it was funny but still cute. He handed me another box, and before I could get that one open, he handed me another box, and another, and another! I just laughed. I think he gave me about eight boxes, and they were all filled with my favorite gum. I ended up with 20 packs–one for each year of my life! For someone who is an extreme gum enthusiast (I coined the word gumaholic), this was one of the best gifts I had ever received. After the blue box episode, we got off the train and went to what he heard was Atlanta’s best Chinese restaurant. He had never eaten there, but he thought I might enjoy it because I absolutely love Chinese food. For the record, I would not have said it was the best in Atlanta, but it was the company that I was enjoying.
The night ended with a visit to a newspaper store in Buckhead. I do not care for newspapers too much, but I suppose we had to do something he liked for once. The sun had dipped into the horizon, and the moon had since made its debut. Being unfamiliar with public transit, Aaron accompanied me back to the mall so I could go back to campus. He gave me one last gift: a birthday card. This was the one he didn’t want me to open, and instructed me to read it when I got back. I told him that I had a great time and this was the best birthday I had ever had. We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. I made haste to my dorm room with a smile on my face. It was refreshing to know that it was possible to spend time with a guy without there being certain expectations at the end of the night. I plopped down on the bed and opened the card. It was cream colored with embossed flowers and gold script. The message inside said:
When the celebrating is finally done,
when the sun is slowly setting
and the day is getting still and quiet,
may you have one last small gift–
a happy feeling that you
have a special place in
the hearts of many people.
I actually still have that card! I was totally overwhelmed. I just could not believe that someone whom I barely knew would do all of that just so I would have a good day. The best part was it showed that he was listening to everything I said when we talked. I appreciate it when people listen. It shows that they care. Normally, I would consider myself to be a superb listener, but he had me beat–hands down! As far as the gifts went, people may think that they were small and insignificant, but they meant a lot to me. The simple things are sometimes the best things because they have the most meaning attached to them. I sat in my room for a few minutes just taking everything in and replaying the day’s events in my head. I decided that it was the best birthday ever.
I hate to interrupt this beautiful story, but, although the birthday story is over, the story isn’t over.
It was January, and I had only been in Atlanta for one winter. I was wearing jeans, a short-sleeved shirt, and a windbreaker Coming from August, GA, I thought my outfit would work, but I soon discovered that it did not. I cannot say that I actually felt cold during that day, but I definitely wished that I had a heavier jacket walking back to the dorm that night. Two days later, I woke up at 5:00 a.m., and I was wide awake. I was not, still not, and will probably never be a morning person. I did not know what to do with myself. I had never been so alert so early in the morning in my entire life. I tried to go back to sleep, but I wasn’t able to. I started watching TV hoping to get sleepy, but even after two hours, it was of no use. I felt weird. Even ’til this very day, I cannot explain how I felt. I didn’t feel bad, but I didn’t feel good either. The weird feeling coupled with being up extremely early made me feel that something was not right. I got up and went to the nurse’s office. I had a relationship with her because I came once a week to give myself allergy injections in the afternoons. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that she was extremely surprised and a little concerned to see me so early. It was about 7 a.m. then. I told her I felt weird, and she said I didn’t look good. She took my temperature, and although I do not recall what the number was, I recall her being alarmed and telling me to see a doctor. I told her I didn’t have a doctor or a car, so she called the campus police to take me to the nearest urgent care facility. I let the doctor look at me, and I came out with more than I had bargained for. I left that facility with a diagnosis of bronchitis and a doctor’s note telling me I had to stay in bed for an entire week. A week? I thought I have to miss a whole week of school? Oh, this really IS the best birthday ever!
What is YOUR most memorable birthday?