It's strange. I don't usually celebrate my birthday. To me, it is literally just another day. Never saw the point in making a big deal out of it.
After this weekend, I'm not so sure anymore.
I'm talking with my teacher, and she wanted me to come by and at least say hi on my birthday. I figure, fine, and we can go and grab something for dinner at one of our favorite haunts like Portillo's or something. Nice, simple, and subtle.
Well, she was having none of that. I show up Friday afternoon, and she has her family there, she's cooking hot dogs and brats and Italian sausage on the grill, and has a cake waiting for me.
I start feeling guilty. I am NOT used to being made a big deal of. I tell her this is too much and she shouldn't be doing all this. I might as well have been talking to a brick wall. Her family she's staying with knows me and they all come out and wish me Happy Birthday, including the Munchkin. I'm doing my best to keep up, not an easy thing when you haven't done any actual birthday celebrating since you were probably in your teens. They have a 360 and a ton of Rock Band content and made me promise, once we eat, to jam with them.
The food was great. I mean, it's always great, but being with those close to you always makes it better (there's a reason I hang with mornblade so much). Some of them are asking me about how things have been, what I'm planning next. I tell them a little about the next Hannah Singer book, and they all want to know when it will be out. The Munchkin recently got a Rainbow Dash figure and is proudly showing it off to me. She's occasionally doing things to pull a little focus to herself, get a little attention. I look at my teacher, smirk, and say, "Kids." She just nods her head.
Dinner under wraps, we head inside for Rock Band. Everyone knows I do the drums. I take my place, reminding myself to hold the sticks in the new grip I've been experimenting with in hopes of keeping my thumbs from blistering. I was also wondering how long I would last, given that I hadn't done anything drum related in almost two months thanks to mandatory overtime. Not only are their no blisters, but my arms did not get tired. I must have played for, like, six hours, and no ill effects. In fact, my right leg that I use for the bass pedal was starting to get tired, but my arm felt just fine (when I first started, I actually inflamed my right arm and had to take aspirin for the first time in years to get the swelling down). The Munchkin in particular had a blast. No one activated the mic, but she didn't know that. She's holding the mic, "singing" and dancing around like Beck on a coffee buzz. Many pictures were taken as the "band" played and people called out their favorites from the set list. I got to choose the first song. I wanted something to warm up with that would also go over with the crowd. Looking over the list, I find one song that I KNOW gets the crowd up and moving -- "Fat Bottom Girls" by Queen, my second favorite song by them and, as any DJ will attest, gets things moving (the kids there are three and younger, so they don't know what the words really mean. Trust me, I wouldn't have done anything inappropriate). No one there other than the guitarist was really all that familiar with the song. By the end, they were fans, and the Munchkin had more fun than Freddie Mercury.
I don't know how long it took (all I remember was we had just finished "In Too Deep" by Sum 41), but I remembered we still had cake to get to. So the band takes five. My teacher pulls out the cake. It's decorated with Ariel, The Little Mermaid. One of the guys says, "Mermaids? Are you sure you should have gotten mermaids?" My teacher and the Munchkin's mom just look at him and nod their heads. I make my wish, and we all tuck in.
After that, we go back to playing. The sugar is kicking in for the Munchkin, and she's back to her stuff as everyone continues to have fun, including a couple holding their cell phones up and waving them around. When my leg starts feeling it, I check the time.
We do a couple more (no one wanted the fun to end, not even me), but the kids need to go to bed and so do I. Everyone is hugging me or shaking my hand and wishing me the best. The longest, best hug comes from my teacher, telling me that I'm on my way and this year is when everything changes for me. I think about how I've actually celebrated my birthday for the first time in decades, and I remember she's never wrong.
Maybe I should do this more often.