the backside of 20

Current Mood: grateful

I promise I will write about my internship soon, but I wanted to type this one up before it fell by the wayside.

I was never a big birthday kinda person.  I mean, as a kid, I loved getting stuff.  I liked getting some special attention from my family.  I went to a couple of birthday parties of other kids, and for my 16th birthday my mom let me take a few of my very close buds to (I think) laser tag.  Other than that, not really a big fanfare - I don't set my alarm extra early, I don't know or particularly care what *time* I was born, and while I don't mind people knowing when my birthday is or celebrating it, I don't really go out of my way to announce it.  I don't hide it, but I won't bring it up in conversation, does that make sense?

Plus, on top of that, I kinda like to sit at home and do my own thing most nights.  I mean, yeah, I like to go out sometimes and do things but when I do, I much prefer them to be scheduled in advance with a set start and end time.  I realize this probably makes me sound like a robot or a huge introvert or both, but that's just how it is.  Deal with it.

So when it comes to birthdays, especially now that I'm older (ugh this is making me sound like an adult), I think my ideal celebration is probably just going out to a nice dinner someplace I like to eat with people I really like - like Gold Star Chili with my family or Triple XXX with the Ship of Fools, something like that.  I don't even really care that much about presents - I know plenty of college students who really can't afford it, I'd prefer something personal instead of generic which can be tough (ask Jenny), and I don't like it when I have to guess what level of friendship I am with somebody and feel reciprocal gift obligation.  Plus I don't want a bunch of things that I can't use (I still move too much these days).  And now that I have a summer birthday (K-12 I did not, now I do and summer birthday people get totally ignored, haha) I've been at Purdue for the past few years when my birthday rolls around.

SO anyway, with that all in mind, this year was a little different.  I'm in Texas for my birthday, and at this point I've been here all of a week and a half.  I don't really know many people around here, I don't know many cool places, I'm broke and I have no car.

The night before I got kinda bummed.  I was feeling homesick, missing my wife, and feeling stupid that I suddenly wanted my birthday to be a bigger deal.

Well, at midnight I started getting some text messages.  Then more when I woke up.  When I got to work we had a meeting with our whole intern group, and 97 interns kicked it off by singing Happy Birthday to me (probably the largest group I've ever had sing that to me!) [the meeting was not for my birthday, FYI].  Several friends and family called me and left me birthday wishes on my phone.

Facebook blew up with birthday messages, and I used to not think it was that big of a deal.  This year, I can honestly say I've never been so happy to read those messages.  I wanted to give every single one of those people a hug.  So much birthday love when I was feeling homesick, and each message gave me a smile.

When I done with work, my friend Andrew (and his new gf Kimberly) took me out to a local brewpub/steakhouse/sports bar where we got to watch hockey (Stanley Cup game 1) and baseball (Reds!).  I got a plush T.Rex and some Hulk gloves, and ordered a giant steak.  Got a free dessert, and they insisted on paying for me.

Then, when I got home from that, I found out that Jenny had arranged for a local dessert company to deliver 2 dozen freshly baked cookies (and milk) to my apartment!  She even knew that even though the company had several varieties of cookies to pick, I would only want chocolate chip and M&M ones.  Love this woman.

So when it was all said and done, I had a pretty killer birthday, and it happened exactly when I needed it!

Oh, I will also mention that Jenny got me a super cool gift.  Some backstory (as if this post wasn't long enough): at some point around when I was in middle school, my mom let us pick if we got presents, or she would give us a fixed amount of money and take us shopping for whatever we wanted.  Me, being the kid that I was, did not take this opportunity to go wild and purchase whatever suited my fancy, no, it became an exercise in planning and careful calculations, using the most recent Toys R Us ad from the Sunday paper, and later a bit of internet research (yes, at that time, the internet was a fringe thing).

This once a year opportunity was the one chance I had to purchase some big ticket items that otherwise were hopelessly out of my reach, allowance wise.  For three straight years, this included going after a large Star Wars Micro Machine playset that went along with all of my various Star Wars space ships and figurines.  The first year I got the Hoth playset, the second year I got the Death Star, and by the time the third year rolled around...the Yavin playset was gone.  Nowhere to be found.

I don't want to be melodramatic, but I was devastated.  I pined for it in a way that only a child and collector could, and as the years wore on I looked for it, but I never saw it again.  Heck, the Star Wars Micro Machine line really died off not long after that, and it appeared that that chapter of my life was closed.

You can probably guess where this is going, but I'm gonna tell you anyway.  Fast forward to this year, where on a bored weekend Jenny watched the entire Star Wars Trilogy (OT of course) back to back to back with me.  While we were hanging out, I got out ALL my old Star Wars toys and she patiently humored me while I explained that the differences between the different TIE fighter models (the Empire chose to specialize their fighters based on mission profile rather than develop a true all purpose craft), and that it wasn't until just before the Battle of Endor that the Rebel Alliance had the resources to develop the B-Wing starfighter, things like that.  I also told her about my childhood-defining tale of never managing to find the Yavin playset...the one that got away.

Well, just before I left for Texas Jenny gave me my birthday present, and lo and behold it was the Yavin playset, custom ordered from a specialty toy shop!  She remembered my story and figured out *exactly* which one it was (which, given the dearth of options when it comes to Star Wars toys, trust me, there's plenty of opportunity for confusion).  It was a total blast from the past (I didn't know any still existed!) and was yet another example of my excellent wife getting me a great gift that was very personal and meaningful.

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