Ten years ago today was my 29th birthday (so today I turn 39! Yikes!).
I'd decided beforehand that it was not going to be a good birthday.
My birthday was on a Saturday that year. My friends decided to take me out on Friday night to celebrate, so technically we would be celebrating on my birthday once the clock turned to midnight. Get it? But, the reason for the day-early celebration was because we all wanted to see Collective Soul, who was playing for free that Friday night at a local festival.
I was not looking forward to my 29th birthday. There were a few different reasons which I won't get into here, but suffice it to say that I was not into the idea at all.
I'd hoped that the concert would turn it around. I'd been looking forward to seeing Collective Soul for a while, as they'd been a pretty big favorite of mine in the mid-to-late 1990's. But, while the music was good, the pavilion was being renovated that year, so the band was on a makeshift stage like 20 feet in the air on a surface parking lot. There wasn't a closeness to the band, we had to stand the whole time, and it was just…ordinary. I was sort of meh about the whole thing. And it didn't really help my mood like I'd been hoping.
Afterward, my friends took me to a bar down the street. We picked it because it had an outdoor patio and it was a nice night, one of the last we'd probably get to enjoy of the summer season. My friends could tell that I wasn't into the club/dance scene so we went low-key.
I appreciated what my friends were doing and how hard they were trying, so I tried to put on a good face. I didn't sit there and sulk. I didn't snap at anybody. I tried as hard as I could to participate in the laughs and such, but it was plain to see that my heart just wasn't there. They tried their hardest, getting me drinks, telling jokes, having fun, bringing up stories from good times, and even bringing over a couple of girls over to wish me happy birthday. They pulled out all the stops. Still, I was lost in my thoughts. And I didn't want to bring my friends down, so after a bit, I figured I'd take a walk to clear my head.
I wandered over to the end of the bar in hopes of getting a glass of water as I really wasn't in the mood to drink anymore, and figured alcohol wasn't going to do anything but bring me further down at that point. The bar was quite lively that night with the festival crowds, but even so I started to get a bit annoyed when minutes passed by and more minutes passed by without the bartender so much as looking my way. Still, I was fine being alone for the moment so I figured I'd wait it out.
A girl walked up next to me, and she instantly caught my eye. Blonde, great smile, beautiful eyes. Very catching. Evidently she caught the eye of the bartender, as well, for he finally ambled over where the girl asked for a water. The bartender paid me no attention whatsoever. I chuckled as he went off to get the water, and the girl looked over at me, wondering why I was laughing. I told her that I'd been standing there for probably ten minutes waiting for a water, but that I couldn't get this guy (pointing to the bartender who was already on his way back with her water) to notice me. She laughed and, taking the water that the bartender was handing her, said she'd share it with me. Of course, the bartender took that time to ask what I wanted. I told him that I was fine. Which I now was.
We shared the water. We talked. My mood started improving. I found out that she was there with a friend who was over somewhere else on the phone. I hoped that her conversation would take a long time. It did.
Eventually her friend came back and they were ready to go. The girl and exchanged phone numbers. I was happy now.
We talked later that night and the next day. Things were looking good for Mr. Newly 29 after all.
And they only got better. Fast forward ahead. Four years and a handful of days later, that girl I stood in front of our families and friends and committed the rest of our lives to each other at our wedding. We have since had two amazing kids who we love unconditionally and who teach us every day. We have been blessed with a great house, good health, and wonderful friends. We both have amazing parents who support us and love us. Our extended families gel. We've created so many memories and continue to create new ones that I cherish and learn from.
But one memory that will always stand out is the one where I was resigned to having the worst birthday of my life, and instead, it turned into maybe the greatest. A better birthday gift I don't think I've ever received than the one where I met the love of my life.
Now how's that for a happy birthday?