I'm less nonchalant about it than I thought I might be, given that I'm not especially sentimental about birthdays as a rule. Milestones are minefields, though, in that they demand comparative reflection, an exercise with outcomes that I don't always find favorable. For example: Grownup readers, what had you accomplished as you strolled jauntily into your fourth decade? If mastering the art of falling down is not on your list, I win.
Technically TwinFin and I don't cross this threshold until Sunday, but I have already been feted and gifted in incomparable fashion. There was frivolity and cheese dip, hooch and karaoke, my sweet chicken and, mind-blowingly, real live actual chickens. (TwinFin received these as a birthday gift. Two fowl by the names of Rogers and Q. I, on the other hand, got a lot of wine. K FOR THE WIN.)
Mostly, though, I realized how much grander and larger and more joyous it feels to balk at the 30-yard line only to be yanked over by a cheering crowd of your nearest and dearest.
JBSH, who created a backdrop too stunning for the humble occasion, who maneuvers through a swaying crowd like a phantom, replenishing food, charming strangers, and cleaning dishes with just a whisper of movement.
TwinFin and MW, my constant friend and his whip-smart wife, a study in people overburdened with talent.
K&J, who were the first to arrive, ever-gracious and lovely and bearing a gift for TwinFin, whom they'd never even met.
JLB, with a strength I admire beyond measure.
J&T, who make every occasion a party—J with her Michigan sweet-talk and tight hugs and sincere, breathless hearting of all things, and T with his quiet, incomparable devotion to making all people feel important and included.
DG, whose poetry is too scandalous for this forum, but was beloved as much as his absence was felt.
JULIE & S, he with his wry earnestness and a wit so fast it will catch you by surprise, and she, grinning and mischievous, like a pesky little sister who good-naturedly needles you almost to death before stunning you with thoughtfulness that makes you misty and brimming with something that feels dangerously close to schmaltz.
JA, whose presence is at any moment identifiable by the world's most infectious laugh.
A&N, who have never, in their lives, ever met a stranger. Ever.
MS, a girl's best friend.
B&D, my rockstar late-stayers, blessed with the simultaneous dispositions of your favorite buy-you-beer-on-the-sly aunt and uncle, the ones you can tell your deepest secrets to and trust that you'll get compassion, realism, cocktails, and peerless nursing care.
JFR, laid-back and kind and blessed with a rare kind of effortless friendliness.
M&J, always always late, so that their arrival is as stylish and fashionable as they are.
BiL & LSis, superheroes for braving the cold and the rain and the late night and the babysitter and the crowd and the exhaustion with a newbornforheaven'ssake.
K&B, charting new Fin territory and living to tell the tale.
SF and all the Bs, making the night a family affair in order to sing the world's most terrifically awesome and awful karaoke.
S, my late-night confabber, Coors queen, straight-shooter, and JBSH partner in crime.
SN, friend to all things with four legs and possibly the kindest, most quietly hilarious person I know.
The momster and S, she with an encyclopedic knowledge of my 30 years (particularly that first one!) and he, always there to wake up a hungover gal with a chainsaw.
And TFin. Who gave me the camera I've been lustily desiring for months, the one I used to inexpertly take these photos, and a book on how to use it that I've been hungrily devouring since. Making sure that this celebration was first a priority, then a necessity, and then a damn good time. He works a room instinctively, without having to think about it—mixing cocktails, encouraging conversation, shooing people out of cramped corners and dark hallways—forcing me to respond again and again to "Your dad is awesome."
He is. You all are, my people. Thank you.