I get reflective around my birthday.
It came and went last Friday. Fun, fun. Cake and ice cream. Gifts and cards. Smile, cheese, flashbulb pops.
After it was over I came home, put "Magnum" on the DVD (great episode with Frank Sinatra), and cuddled up with a Carolina Blonde (sadly, a drink).
But, you know what the best present was? Time spent with friends.
I've got a bushel full of them. Several of them have been to hell and back with me. Others make me laugh, or think, or feel.
Friday night an old pal, Jason Buck, and a new pal, his father-in-law Barry, invited me to the Leaf & Ale. It was cool. Put me in mind of what an British club must have been like at the turn of the last century. From there, it was on to mom's to enjoy dinner (smoked ribs, baby!), cake (Red Velvet, of course!), ice cream (chocolate!) and presents ("Hawaii 5-0" DVD!).
Slept until after 1 on Saturday. Felt like crap from the nocturnal rumblings. Missed lunch with someone I wanted to see. (Sorry, Jen.) That night was a cookout at Shelton's that made up for the debacle earlier in the week. Burgers and dogs and baseball and belly laughs.
And I've got to mention the unexpected but blessed conversation with two special people. Words can't express what they've given me. Best thing I could have gotten for the big 3-1. I only hope I've halfway returned the favor.
Today was quiet, solitary, reflective. I needed to recharge. Haven't felt too well.
But, as dark as it sometimes gets, I think about what matters, the wonderful people who have shown up in my life when I needed them, and it's enough to make up for the times when nothing makes sense, life stands still, and I'm afraid cause I think it always will.
God, it's been fun, though. Rocking with RobinElla, laughing with Dean and Drew, Elvis quotes with Dewayne ("I don't pay any attention to movie magazines..."), books with Bridget and Sara, "The Critic" with JM, Conway Twitty and needed conversation with Brandy, what seems like 100 years with Shelton, Thomas Magnum and "True Grit", an eerie "Sideways" scenario with Frith, baseball and bluegrass, love and hate, heaven and hell, and how the weather was.
Sun sets on a Sunday. Time to face the reality of Monday.
I want to be at the beach, swing to the surf, take the Greyhound on the Hudson River Line in search of Samantha.
But as it is, I'll head into Halls, clean off my desk, sing my Shopper song.
And I'll look back at 31, forget about the sleepless nights, get by with a little help from my friends.
That's the gift that keeps on givin'.