Ever since I turned 21 I imagined that my 30th birthday would be remarkable. Somehow all of the following would be involved: tons of friends, family, a limousine, an elaborate dinner, cocktails, wine, dancing, a great big cake, all in a location too far from home; a place where I’d have to treat myself to a night in a lavish hotel. When the day finally came around, it was rather unremarkable. The day fell on a Saturday. I awoke to HOB and SSOB (husband and step-son of blogger) already up, on their way out the door. I stayed in bed and read until MOB (mother of blogger) called to wish me a happy birthday from 2600 miles away. I read a little longer and finally rolled out of bed, knowing that IOB (in-laws of blogger) would arrive at the house in a matter of hours for a weekend visit. Yes, my big birthday would entail cleaning, cooking and entertaining – definitely not what I’d expected. HOB and I were at the tail end of purchasing our first home. Between the stress of the home-buying process, not spending a dime on anything but bills and groceries for months (not even on bottles of wine!), and turning 30, I was at my breaking point and very frightened about when and where the tears would start pouring out.
IOB arrived mid-afternoon and the lot of us headed out to do some city sightseeing. It was about this time that my day started perking up. As we wandered through the city markets, I looked up and realized just how beautiful the day was: the sun was shining at about 75 degrees in late October in Pittsburgh – unheard of. After a few hours we trekked home and I started dinner. HOB set up the grill, I was stationed at the stove while SMIOB (step-mother-in-law of blogger) worked alongside me. Our menu was simple but delicious: barbequed chicken, roasted potatoes with garlic and rosemary, and olive oil-sautéed green beans. To drink, we had Zinfandel, a surprise bottle HOB had brought home earlier in the day. He and I gulped it down greedily, only because it had been so long since we had treated ourselves to any kind of wine. With its light hickory flavors, the Zinfandel was delicious with the sweet and smoky chicken and equally tasty with the soft, sweet, oven-roasted garlic on the potatoes. When dinner was over, HOB and SSOB surprised me with a dozen beautiful assorted cupcakes… their early morning trip had been to one of the best bakeries in town. My family sang happy birthday to me – complete with candles! – and presented me with touching cards and a lovely new necklace. We sat around the table and devoured double fudge, caramel spice, red velvet and peanut butter chocolate cupcakes. The remaining Zin in my glass tasted best with the double fudge flavor.
Waking up that morning I didn’t expect that I would have been so completely happy and satisfied on the day that I turned 30. Although there was no limo or hotel or elaborate meal, it had been a beautiful day with some of my favorite things in the world: family, great food, great wine, cupcakes and even jewelry.