Today is my birthday, Modern Philosophers, so as per tradition, I have handed over control of the blog to the interns so I can celebrate and stuff my face with cake.
However, those lovable scamps, who seem to do nothing around here other can fiddle around on social media and crank up the heat, managed to turn the tables on me and convince me to write this post.
The current leader of the interns, the one with the pierced nose and questionable shoulder tattoo, asked me to tell her my all time favorite birthday memory.
I tried to resist and be lazy, but she plied me with Snapple and intrigued me by framing it all in the form of a time travel query.
You know I have a soft spot for time travel.
Once I told her the story of my favorite birthday, she convinced me that it would be the perfect birthday blog post.
So here I am, typing this story for internet consumption, while my birthday cake sits tantalizingly out of reach. But the head intern was right. This is a fun story to share, and it gives me something to do on a frigid, otherwise uneventful birthday.
If I could time travel back to my favorite birthday, I would set the controls for seven years ago. That was the year Rachel, aka The Girl Who Moved Away aka The One Who Convinced Me To Start This Blog, took me out to dinner on my special day.
We were coworkers, and I had a huge crush on her. I’d been hinting that I had no plans for my birthday, so I was delighted when she asked if she could take me to dinner.
Later, I would refer to this as our first date. She would also claim she was just taking a friend out to celebrate.
We both knew I was right, though.
Dating is really difficult (especially for the Birthday Boy), but Rachel and I had gotten to know each other well simply by working together. I definitely wanted things to move beyond friendship, but as you might have picked up from reading this blog, I’m not very good with dating, reading members of the opposite sex, or basically knowing what to do in any situation concerning someone who makes my heart beat faster.
So it was a major relief that Rachel asked me to dinner. She then made things even easier by insisting on following me home from work so that we could later drive to Texas Roadhouse in her car. She knew I was uneasy about driving, and she wanted me to feel comfortable and be able to have a drink.
By inviting herself to The House on the Hill for the first time, I didn’t have to worry about how to get to that step in the relationship I really wanted us to have. I’d been trying and failing at dating for many years since my divorce. I remembered how awkward it had been the first time a date came to the house.
On this night, though, it was totally different. Rachel made herself right at home, which is fitting given that The House on the Hill would become like a second home to her over the next few years. She plopped down on the couch, turned on the TV, and asked for a beer.
Normally, things would be super tense and awkward, but she was already acting like she belonged here. I would have usually freaked out about someone sitting in my spot on the couch (Hello, Sheldon!), but I didn’t say a thing because she looked so damn adorable.
I got us beers, and came back to find one of the cats already snuggling up with Rachel. The cats were often an issue with dates. Some were allergic. Some hated animals. Usually, the cats hated strangers and would run off to hide the second they heard a voice they didn’t recognize. But here was my big time crush petting a purring kitty, who wanted Rachel’s attention just as much as I did.
To say this was the best first date of my life would be an understatement. After years of just trying to feel comfortable around someone again, I’d quickly realized that Rachel was someone special. I was so relaxed around her, we could talk about anything, she got my corny sense of humor, and she genuinely cared about me.
Plus, the cats liked here!
My birthday has always been an odd day for me. As a kid, I also felt it got overshadowed by its proximity to Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Post-divorce, I felt like I should be spending it with someone special, so it hurt to be single and never have any plans.
This birthday changed my life in such a positive way. By the end of the night, I knew I was going to fall in love with Rachel. And for the first time in an eternity, I had the strong sense that the mushy feelings were mutual.
Texas Roadhouse will be forever linked to that special night, and to a beautiful brown eyed girl with an adorable dimple, who gave me the best, unexpected birthday present…
I finally had a special someone in my life again.
I remember that I had taken off the next day, so I didn’t get to see her again right away, but we exchanged long emails over the course of the day. In one of them, Rachel revealed that she had convinced her Mom to crochet a beret for the stuffed Opus that I kept on my desk. Well, Rachel had confiscated it, so he was always on her desk.
Soon after, that penguin always wore a handmade beret. It was still on his head when he accompanied Rachel on her journey to chase her dream.
I miss Rachel very much, and will probably never get over her. I certainly will never forget that birthday because it was the day that my office crush became the woman who owned my heart.
Best birthday ever. Without a doubt.
So if I could ever manage to get my time machine working, the very first stop might very well be January 6, 2011.
The night I fell head over heels for The Girl Who Moved Away. It was a very happy birthday indeed….