Some of my fondest memories involve my birthday. In the Cascade Mountains of central Washington, flowers would always start to sprout as the snow melted away.
Around this same time in the 5th grade we got to take part in Osborn Elementary School’s annual flower project; a local tradition and right of passage. We would study flowers in class and go on nature walks with our teachers and parents to pick flowers. Flowers would then be pressed onto a sheet of paper with a handwritten description before being laminated and added to our own flower book. Our charge was to gather a minimum of 50 flowers. I still have my flower book, which has a lavender colored cloth cover, an embroidered flower in the middle, and light pink lace around the edges, thanks to my mom.
My mom was also good at birthdays. Each year we would awake to her holding a little tray and singing happy birthday as we lay in bed. The tray contained, without fail, a tall candle, a cup of hot cocoa, and a set of birthday cards. When I turned 6 she made me a birthday cake shaped like a kitty cat that had chocolate frosting and M&Ms on top. You can still find the cake design in her 1970’s Better Crocker cookbook, along with many recipes that impelled America’s epidemic of obesity.
This year was no exception to the special birthdays I’ve experienced in the past. I awoke to my husband and his video camera, which followed me to the kitchen on an intent mission to locate coffee. As I walked through the living room he cued a Danish birthday song on YouTube and as I rounded the corner I not only found a soy latte with chocolate syrup drizzled on it, but a petite chocolate cheesecake decked with candles and a card in a pink envelope. With the video camera on, I made a wish and blew out the candles. I can’t remember the last time I felt this much like a child. Only this time there was champagne and orange juice.
I won’t dwell on this too long. I’ve read my fair share of blogs in which people narcissistically brag about how their life was not “complete” without their spouse or their children, quickly dismissing all others who are not married or do not have children and thus rendering them unable to lead a full and happy life. And I’ve encountered my fair share of people who assume that as a young, cheerful, and educated blonde woman I’ve had a life worth of envy. They are right. But they are also wrong. My goal throughout the next year is to give you a glimpse into the ups and downs of our lives as we move to a new state and begin a new academic program in a new land surrounded by cornfields. And Republicans.