Saturday was my 28th birthday!
Last spring, I was thinking about my birthday and was feeling a little sad about being far away from my family. My dad and I share the same birthday, and spending the day without him would just feel odd. Even though this is my third summer in the Northwest, I’ve been able to see my dad each year so far. The first year I lived here, Paul and I flew back to California for 4th of July, which wasn’t my exact birthday but was very close to it. Last year, my mom and dad came to visit us and celebrate birthdays.
Paul had to work on my birthday, so I brought up the idea of me flying to California for the weekend. He didn’t mind, so I called my parents and asked what they thought. They were both excited and my dad bought my plane ticket for me on the spot as we spoke on the phone.
Ever since that phone call, I’ve been super excited for my trip back. I love my home in the Northwest and I am happy we moved here, but I’m close to my family and I really miss them. And, birthdays at my parents’ house are a blast! My parents throw great parties with lots of people. It’s always loud and chaotic and everyone usually ends up laughing til they have tears streaming down their faces at one point or another.
I left for California on Friday night after work. I’ve only flown by myself once before, but I felt pretty relaxed in spite of the fact that I’m not wild about flying. My sister pointed out to me that I was more likely to be attacked by a donkey than be involved in a plane crash, but still, I much prefer cars to planes. This particular flight wasn’t bad at all though. I had a window seat, so I could look out at the city lights below me, and the man who sat next to me was a nice older guy with a poodle in his carry-on bag. He teased me, asking me if I liked pet rats.
When the plane landed in Ontario, I was off in a matter of minutes. I had a seat near the front of the plane, and now that I’ve experienced sitting near the front I can say that it’s the only way to go. Last one on, first one off. The terminal at Ontario isn’t very large, so I was able to make my way through it fairly quickly. My parents were waiting for me as I rode down the escalator toward the exit. I love the moment when I first see them when I arrive after being away. The first hug, the big smiles all around….it’s a great moment.
Dad drove us home, and since it was pretty late we went to bed nearly as soon as we got to Apple Valley. In the morning, Dad and I went out to breakfast together. This is a birthday tradition with Dad and my siblings and I. On each kid’s birthday, Dad would take them out to breakfast. We talked and ate way too much food, then ran a couple errands and went home to get ready for our birthday party that night.
As usual, the house was packed. My brother and sister came over with their respective significant others, and my friends Keri and Jenn both came. We’ve been friends for nearly nine years, when we started working together in 411. Mom’s best friend Debbie came with her husband. It was a loud, fun crowd of people.
To prepare for the party, Mom made a TON of food! We had fruit bowls and veggie trays, potato salad (my favorite, I don’t like potato salad at ALL unless it’s my mom’s, in which case I can’t get enough of it!), and watermelon (Mom had sliced open the watermelon and made the rind into a basket, then hollowed it out, balled the watermelon itself, and put the balls into the rind basket. So cute!). My brother Steve grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, my sister Melissa brought mini corn dog muffins that she’d made as well as cookie dough truffles, and her boyfriend Doug brought pasta salad. I fixed some margaritas and Keri and I watched, enthralled, as my sister’s boyfriend expertly cut up an onion for my mom. We were impressed that he had actual culinary-grade knife skills and was able to make the onion slices so pretty.
My dad and I opened our presents while everyone watched (thanks for the gifts, everyone!) and then we ate the barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner, along with helping ourselves throughout the night to the variety of other foods available. I was stuffed but I couldn’t stop eating! We eventually took a break from eating and all hung out chatting for quite awhile, and then it was time for birthday cake. Dad and I each had our own (Dad’s was chocolate with chocolate fudge frosting, and mine was chocolate with cream cheese frosting) and everyone sang ‘Happy Birthday’ for us and watched us blow out the candles.
We even had some natural entertainment that night. As the sun set, Mom noticed a pretty awesome lightning storm in the distance. Those of us that weren’t scared of lightning went outside to watch as bolts of lighning continuously lit up the dark night sky. It was pretty impressive. I tried to capture it on video with my phone, but the picture came out terrible and all you can see is darkness, with flashes of light in it. I love thunder and lightning.
It was nearly one in the morning by the time everyone went home, and Mom, Dad, and I went to bed. I woke up around seven in the morning when I heard my mom say, “Oh, Steve’s here!” My brother works the night shift as a security guard in the emergency room of one of the local hospitals, so he had dropped by after getting off work. I threw on clothes and went to see him. We talked for awhile, and then he fell asleep in the armchair. Dad and I decided to go to the store and get some eggs and bacon to have for breakfast, and my parents cooked me a breakfast that we enjoyed outside on their back patio. Ahhh California, I love your weather. Steve woke up after a bit and joined us outside.
Not long after Steve decided to head home to get a little more sleep, Melissa came by and we hung out talking until it was time for me to leave for the airport. My parents drove me, and although I was a little sad to be leaving so soon I was more happy that we’d had such a fun time together. The time-to-go-home part is getting a little easier over time. I was through security in under five minutes, and got to settle in and watch people struggle with boarding procedures. They had a hard time understanding that they couldn’t get on the plane when first-class passengers were called and they were not first-class. They had an even harder time figuring out why they weren’t allowed to board when the attendant called for rows 25 and up, and they were assigned a seat in row 12. It was great entertainment. I’d purposely selected a seat in row 10, the furthest forward available when I did my check-in and printed my boarding pass, so I among the last people called to board and got to watch the mayhem.
All in all, I had a terrific birthday and I am SO grateful to Mom and Dad for the plane ticket and for making sure I had such a fun time. I got to have both a great party on my birthday, and some nice quiet family time the day after. I’m definitely tired today but it is beyond worth it, I get a huge smile on my face whenever I think about the weekend. This was definitely one of my favorite birthdays and trips back to SoCal.
Jenn, Me, and Keri