It's been awhile, I know. I've been working waaaaaay to hard. Or maybe it's best to say that I'm working too hard at something that isn't my passion? That may be more accurate. I feel like one of those old people you see in movies who seem to attract children in droves but quite frankly don't know what to do with them. I walk down the street and every kid in a stroller smiles and waves, turns around in the seat to watch me walk away, like I'm denying them this perfect moment to play. Babies smile at me. It's a mystery.
But after multiple naps and a succession of nights with uninterrupted sleep I'm starting to feel human again. And just in time because....that's right...it was my birthday!!! Let's just gloss over the fact that I'm 53 and don't really need to celebrate birthdays publicly to know they have happened and get to the important stuff.
This is the fourth birthday I've celebrated without my Minnesota family. While I've gone years without hearing (in excruciating detail) about the day I was born from my grandmother I've not gone this long without a good old-fashioned Hauck party or the first-thing-in-the-morning birthday song call (in parts, no slouches my family). It's one of those things you don't think about missing except for that one day, then you wish you could remember that you miss this when someone asks what you miss most. I know that eventually there will be a new birthday ritual, but this in-between period is a little unsettling. I know it will get better.
My first year here we celebrated at a small vineyard where we were practically the only people there. They put a candle in my tiramisu and sang Tanti Auguri to me. It was sweet but a little surreal, I'd only been here a month and nothing seemed completely real yet and I had to have tanti auguri translated for me. The second year we were in Sweden. I think Leif's dad made us meatballs. The Swedish birthday song (sung by the rest of his family at some point) has never actually been translated for me, sounds nothing like Happy Birthday, and ends with roof raising Hurrahs!!! His dad got me flowers, because he manages to find some excuse every time we visit to get me roses. Sweet man. Last year a friend who lives part-time here and part-time in Sweden brought shrimps back from Sweden and we totally pigged out on them and four bottles of outstanding brunellos. It took me awhile to recover from that celebration.
This year was different yet again. It's the year of cakes. We had friends over for dinner and I made pumpkin ravioli (from scratch, it mostly worked) and a pear cake with prosecco and honey sauce. I have to assume the cake was a hit as everyone had seconds. The next day one of my moms gave me another cake. A beautiful Italian cake with crunchy layers between creamy layers. This cake I carried home in a foil-covered bowl on top of the basket on my bike. I fully expected to arrive home with a bowl full of cake crumbles, but this is one tough cake. Other than some disarrangement of the powdered sugar on top it still looked perfect after 3 kilometers and numerous stretches of cobblestoned roads and random potholes that made the bowl jump around like a kangaroo.
And let's not forget the ride, because no (birth)day would be complete without a ride. 35 miles with a pastry and coffee stop in the middle, because I don't do rides that don't include food. I'm not a professional and I have nothing to prove to anyone...I require food. The weather was mild so it was a beautiful ride.
I think we're well on our way to constructing our own birthday ritual. A ride is practically mandatory, whether for my day in November or his in April. I will naturally make something I've never made before and hope that it works. There will always, always be beautiful wine. I'm all in favor of naps, call it something special like The Nap of the Year so it seems more epic and important. And there will be the greatest gift of all, every year, time spent together doing something or doing absolutely nothing at all. Yup, I think this has the makings of one fine birthday ritual....