Two people, both of whom are very important to me, celebrate birthdays today.
Pre-pandemic, I felt lucky if I was able to see my dear friend, A, maybe twice per year. In lockdown, it’s less–it’s not at all, and I miss her. She is worth celebrating any (every) Thursday, but this Thursday birthday is a roundish one, and hers is a life to be celebrated. Her kindness, talent, and killer sense of humor are to be exalted from rooftops and mountaintops.
In addition to being among the best of women and friends, A is an artist. She’s an art teacher too, a committed educator at heart, so maybe she’s an art teacher who’s also an artist. I’ll have to think on that chicken-and-egg kind of scenario. Most Christmases, A creates a signature ornament for people in her inner circle, and these ornaments are true works of art. As I decorate our Christmas tree each year, I marvel at these pieces of art, pieces of my heart, and thank my lucky stars she is my friend.
2020 hadn’t been kind to the world, and 2021’s not exactly shaping up to be any kind par-tay yet either, so we are foregoing our annual birthday girls’ weekend until such a time when a par-tay can be a par-tay. And let’s be honest, when I say “par-tay” I mean a real dinner with high quality cocktails, maybe a movie, carb- and frosting-heavy bakery items with candles, and talking til the wee hours, laughing until it physically hurts. Happy birthday, sweet girl. I luh you.
Birthday Girl Number 2, the second A of note here, is one of the more badass women I’m lucky enough to call a friend. She is smart, SMART, funny, and compassionate. She has the same nose for bullshit and appreciation of sarcasm that I do, and she is one of the few people I can get real-real with when it comes to my professional practice. I distinctly recall her calling me up and calling me out for something I said during one of my presentations several years back. As I am wont to do, and honestly can’t save myself from myself sometimes, I made a flip comment to my audience. I knew my audience would get it, but I hadn’t considered that some outside our organization could find my words inflammatory. I hadn’t even given it another thought. Wise and experienced, A called me the next day to say that while she didn’t necessarily take exception to what I said, others could, maybe even should, and that I need to watch my tone and my words. I’ve never forgotten the lesson. A casual friend would dodge such hard conversations, but not A. I don’t think she enjoyed it, but she DID it. For me. And that says everything you need to know about her character.
I may win the prize for shitty 2019, but Birthday Girl Number 2 earned her spot on the podium for 2020. What could have been devastating health news for her wasn’t. No. That’s not accurate. The news was devastating, but she received and shared it with grace, humility, and a positive spirit. Me? I cried. As is her way, she fought, fought with the tenacity and grit I always expect from her. She won. Of course she won. She’s the picture of resilience and resistance, and I admire her enormously. Every so often, I get a random text message from her in which she gives me some terrifically unearned, undeserved compliment and it never fails to make my day. Happy birthday to you, A! I cannot wait to celebrate with a superb glass (OK, bottle) of red. Cheers to you, girlfriend!
A is for lots of other concepts too. Like abomination and anathema and antipathy and it’s almost time to inaugurate a new President. A is for 1A, as in being a speech-language pathologist, I’ve been identified to be among the first wave of citizens to receive the COVID vaccine. A is for adversity, and we’ve all faced adversity in the last days, weeks, months. . . But A is also for amity, which means a friendly relationship and abundance, which I hope to find in care, kindness, and caution in these days to come.
A is for á la mode, which literally means “fashionable, stylish” or “with ice cream.” Obviously we are going the ice cream route here. To go on top of the cake. It may not be my birthday, but I gotta get me some cake, the more á la mode, the better!