I approached 40 with trepidation. Perhaps in part because I’ve never felt my age? I was always “precocious” or “15 going on 30”. And I looked older too. Man, when I look back at pictures of my 14 year old self I am shocked at how much I look 25 (yeah, ok.. it was the 80’s)! How did my mother allow me to wear all that makeup?
Ironically though, as I matured I began to feel younger in spirit and eventually people starting telling me I looked young for my years. Confusing, I know.
So when 40 was around the corner I wasn’t sure how to feel. The young and the old were coming together and I could no longer deny what I was. A 40 year old woman.
Whatever that is.
Bottom line. I was conflicted.
One thing I knew for sure, I wanted to ring in my turning point with my dearest friends. So we planned a weekend of fun (it’s my hubby Arthur’s b-day too…not JUST about me) – complete with a day on the lake and a house party. A lot of out-of-towners couldn’t make it but we understood as we were doing it over Labor Day and well.. people make plans. We still had a pretty good number and I was looking forward to a terrific weekend – kicked off on Friday night to celebrate Arthur’s actual b-day with an intimate dinner with his oldest friend Tom and my brother Jon.
On our way to dinner we stopped at the home of a business colleague so Arthur could pick something up. After disappearing into the house he quickly emerged to tell us we needed to see the “spectacular architectural stair” inside. I am a sucker for a great staircase. My seatbelt was off and I was out of the car before he even finished the sentence.
My immediate reaction was confusion. And then anger. Who the hell planned a surprise party for Arthur without me?!
Suddenly I spied my dear friend Erin from Chicago. She was supposed to be in Michigan doing a half Ironman? What was she doing here? Then I locked eyes with my college friend Stefan, who lives inFlorida. We had been Facebooking only hours earlier.. and he was in Belgium (liar!). And there was one of my closest girlfriends Nicole and her partner Bob… from Chicago.. and FRANK from Boston… and Janelle, and Susanne, Staci & David… Deb and more. OMG it FINALLY dawned on me.. it was a surprise party for ME. My best friends from all over the country had come in town for my birthday weekend after all!? They had been lying to me for months. And they were all here. In one room at one time.
Wham.. it was over. The tears starting flowing, the hugs and kisses.. the LOVE. I couldn’t believe so many people had snuck into town to surprise me. I especially couldn’t believe they had been keeping it a secret. And that they had all made plans without my help!? I am the social organizer around here! Where were they all staying? When did they get here? Who was in control if not me!?
Honestly, it was so overwhelming I had to disappear to the bathroom and found myself sobbing uncontrollably for a few minutes. The emotion was just so powerful. I was overcome.
Turns out.. it was all Arthur’s idea and he had been scheming with everyone for months. Georgia and Charlotte had helped on the ground in Austin (ok.. now I understand how it all came together) and together they had 100% pulled it off. I was truly clueless.
It was the first time anyone has ever thrown a surprise party for me and still, over a month later, I get emotional when I think about it. To know that people love you so much that they will get together and do something for you without you knowing. It was an incredible feat on the part of my amazing husband who knows me so well that he knew, more than even I did, that what I needed most for my conflicted 40th b-day was to feel loved.
For my birthday he gave me my friends. It was the perfect gift.
And kicking it off with the out-of-towners that first night was honestly just the beginning. I was on an emotional high all weekend long. Thrilled to be able to start with a bang.. and to then have three MORE days of more surprise friends (Erin and Bill) fun boating, dancing, eating, drinking, tubing, celebrating and sharing with all our amazing Austin friends too (J&P, R&S, Lindyloo, K&C, J & A… you all know who you are!). It brought our worlds together completely and in the most fulfilling way.
I am so thankful, humbled, and honored to feel such deep love from people I care for and respect so
deeply and who truly inspire me. If your friends are a measure of your value in the world, I am feeling pretty valuable these days. I hope everyone has the opportunity to feel that way at least once in your life. What a gift.
Now, let’s see how Arthur’s going to top that when I turn 50. No pressure sweetie. 🙂