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The Best We Can

33 isn’t shaping up to be too shabby. Honestly, I couldn’t put my finger on why that was for a few days. Not that when everything feels like swimming in sunshine (even the burn from so many rays) there needs to be a why, but considering the black hole of apprehension I felt in the weeks before D-Day, I did wonder why I felt so…well…good.

And then, as any worthwhile epiphany does, the reason showed up in a blank message waiting for me to write and press send.

A friend sent me this email:

Subject: Hoppy Birdday!

Hope it’s a special, beautiful day for you.

I’ve known him long enough we don’t often sign our emails, let alone begin with formalities like “Dear” or “To.” He and I write what we need to say or want to say, and then move on.

His email was charming in its simplicity, and I loved how it reminded me that we’ve known of each other for almost 15 years, and known each other for 14.25 (there was a bit of email correspondence only for awhile. The kinds of emails only 18 year old insomniacs can write to strangers. Then there was a phone-correspondence, long and late and with cords. Finally, we did meet).

Anyway. I read that email on my birthday, and again the day after, and again Monday morning, each time, reflecting on the fact that his wish for me came true. I did have a special, beautiful day. Days, even.

On the eve of turning 33, there was dancing at the Trails and Ways show. The morning of, there was a long run and an episode of This American Life that I had been saving for a special occasion. There was a sweet card from my roommate, a flower-delivery, conversation, and then a picnic brunch. There was giggling and oversharing, mimosas and cheese, goose chasing and finally napping. Then there was a long walk with my best friend, attending a secret broadcast of a Love + Radio (where I was in the same room with many podcasters I admire, including Julia Dewitt and Avery Truffleman, plus men in slim black ties who looked like they were hard-core radio journalists), and finally a late diner dinner, before I fell into bed just as my birthday ended. And the day after? There was another run, brunch, unexpected run-ins, another nap, and then quality time with people who make me laugh, who accept me even when I yell slightly ludicrous (but accurate) things at a sportscast in public, and who I love unquestionably.

So I sat down to respond to the email, and wrote this:

Subject: Re: Hoppy Birdday!

Thanks sweet man. It was especially wonderful. I’m not sure I’ve felt so loved in a long time. Perhaps the more accurate statement is, I’m not sure I’ve been ready to receive such love in a long time. 

That was what has made all the difference: the fact that I was (am) ready to accept so much darn love in whatever form it came in, however the giver was offering it. A voicemail to the tune of Handel’s Messiah, Facebook messages, flowers, cards with quotes from Jessica Fletcher, unexpected hugs, texts from ex’s that made me relieved we were finally maybe friends of a sort, cartoon drawings, jars of frosting, and brunch like it was going out of style.

I’m happy because I’m loved by people doing the best they can, and because I love myself and am doing the best I can.

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