And it was.
I had driven through the falling snow, lifting the lever that activated 4-wheel drive as I made the lengthy and laborious commute in bad weather. As I drove, my thoughts turned to Will.
Stop, I finally told myself. And when I made it home, I drafted an email I wasn't sure I'd send. But I sighed when I finished it, acknowledged it was true - I do want more than he does and it was hurting to handle the silence. So - literally aching with regret and sadness - I took a breath and pressed send.
I immediately wanted to take it back - to say that I was perfectly fine with whatever he offered whenever he offered it - but perhaps I've grown too old to lie to myself like that again. And though I dearly wish he'd prove me wrong, the likelihood is he won't. And so I made a gently dramatic exit from his life on the last day I was 31, simultaneously wishing we could have worked and that he receive everything wonderful in life.
Then I cleared the snow from my drive and sidewalk. I took a shower and listened to the snow plows scrape the street as I tossed and turned.
Today - my birthday! - was easier. I read Oh, The Places You'll Go to Little One this weekend. When I moved, I tucked my birth certificate in that graduation present, my tiny footprints nestled next to colorful illustrations and rhyming text. I smiled as I recited the words, pausing to answer questions or listen to her comment on silly words or scary pictures.
The snow was cleared from the streets and I walked Chienne around the neighborhood coated in white and sped through my commute. I started taking calls at 7 and was on the fourth one when I put a conference on hold to grin at my phone and eagerly respond to reception.
"I have to finish this meeting," I told the woman. "But I'll be there soon." And I scampered across campus, brains in my head and shoes on my feet, to fetch the gift I'd expected from Doug. I carried my package carefully as my short dress flipped around my thighs and cardigan fluttered behind me. I smiled down at it because daisies are irresistibly happy and made it to my office before examining my bouquet more carefully.
I let the ruffled petals of the carnation tickle my nose when I leaned in to sniff and gazed at the cheerful clash of colors and textures I had perched on my desk on an otherwise dreary day. I straightened the polka dot bow and poured some water from my bottle into the adorable vase. I smiled at the card and had a piece of chocolate that had arrived with the flowers.
"Look how pretty," people would say as they walked by. I would glance up to smile, deeming my gift perfect and offering it an affectionate glance before returning to work. But my attention crept to the yellows and purples, pinks and peaches again and again.
"Would you like the ice cream tempura?" the waiter asked after I'd finished lunch with my colleagues. The six of us sat at a table and talked and laughed between bites of sushi. They'd all given hugs and lovely birthday wishes and had signed a balloon in lieu of a card and attached it to still more flowers.
I ducked my head as the waiter returned with green tea ice cream encased in fried batter and I sang along with my friends before closing my eyes, making a wish and blowing out the tiny pink candle he'd lit.
The happy balloon and pretty flowers lured people to my office and I soaked in the attention like a sponge. I'm so proud of where I've been, I decided, feeling well loved and rather wonderful. And I'm so excited about where I might go.
Dad called to sing to me in the morning, Mom in the afternoon and she asked how the day had been so far.
"Kind of perfect," I replied easily. "I mean, I got here before 7 and will leave after 7 when my last meeting wraps up. But I love my job and there are people who love me and I have all these flowers and chocolate and a balloon!"
So while I may wish some things were different - and still ache a little (more than a little) from last night - overall, I'm ridiculously blessed. And suitably grateful for it.
It's a happy birthday.