Monday, November 16, 2009

And It Was Good

At 1 a.m. on the morning of my birthday, I woke up with a headache so bad that it, well, woke me up. There was no going back to sleep so I decided to get up and go into the living room. My son comes walking in. Here I should tell you that my son is, and has always been, an insomniac. I would have thought he was some freak of nature if this trait didn't run in my family (except that this trait totally skipped me). Anyway, the first thing my son does upon seeing me up is sing me Happy Birthday. Then he gets on the couch and curls up with me as I drift back off to sleep. That alone was enough for a perfect birthday.

But there's more.

When I got up the next morning and checked my e-mail, I had a message from a friend of the family. More specifically, it was a message from the wife of the son of my parents' best friends. (This is all relevant to the impact of the story.) I grew up with their son, but I have only spoken with his wife a few times. This is what the message said:

"I have to tell you I think of your Mom frequently. Her face pops into my head and I smile. She was a special lady. Peter adored her."

That is the best e-mail in the entire history of e-mail. Thank you thank you thank you Peter's wife. Thank you for helping me feel so close to my mom, like she is right here and such a part of everything. That alone was enough for a perfect birthday.

It was also a great day because I didn't have to go to work. That alone . . .. My husband and I were headed to Las Vegas for a long weekend to celebrate my new decade. As we got off the plane and were walking to baggage claim, I started to complain about my job, because I am nothing if not persistent. He was basically ignoring me until he said something about crazy Canadians. I was thinking that was not very nice considering that he is married to a crazy Canadian and then I stopped bitching for a few seconds about my job and looked up and there was my aunt.

Here's the part where I tell you about my aunt. When my mom died, my aunt assumed the role of her presence at all important functions in my life. She has been tireless in her support of me. I know she loves me, but I also know she does these things for my mom as much as she does them for me. I felt like my mom was standing right there with us.

Later that night, we all went to dinner. We went to Bouchon, not Bouchon Bakery (see below), which is a restaurant that my husband and I had been to in Napa, and there is also one in Las Vegas. We had just finished up a really good dinner and my husband says, "Would you like one more present?" Oh the gluttony! Yes, please! He presented me with a ring that is worthy of marrying him all over again.

Sidebar - If you are ever in Vegas, you must promise me that you will go to Bouchon Bakery (not the restaurant, although you can go there for dinner if you want, but here I am talking about the bakery). It is located at the back of the Venetian, facing the theater where they show Phantom. When you get there, you must have a macaroon. These are not the coconut macaroon teepees. These macaroons are the almond flour kind with the egg shell thin crust and the middle that melts in your mouth. When you try one of these, you will thank me and you will say, "I have found the meaning of life, or at least breakfast."

Anyway, here's the thing about turning 40. Last January, I was sitting in THIS VERY SEAT at the airport in Las Vegas waiting to go back home. I had spent our Vegas trip that January on the computer rewriting a legal memo that one of the partners at the law firm had asked me to rewrite for a third time. At that point in my life, and for the previous decade, the law had been the center of my life.

I'm not proud of the fact that my job was the center of my life, but it was. Everything else in my life spun around that job, including myself, my family, my friends and my home. But here I sit, 11 months later, and that has all changed. Now, at the center of my world is me, along with my husband, my son, my aunt and uncle, and my friends. I have, you could say, been saved - saved by a husband who saw a spark in me that I forgot was there, saved by an 8 year old little boy that sings me Happy Birthday at 1 a.m. in the morning and, in a round-about painful way, saved by a layoff. I have never been happier than I am at 40.

Don't get me wrong. I am still looking for that attorney job; I miss working as an attorney so badly that when I think about it, I literally ache. But I am one lucky, happy woman indeed.

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