Today is my birthday, and I’m not afraid to tell you that I’m 53 years old. But I ask myself often, ‘How the heck did this happen? Wasn’t I just 28 and in debt, single but not minding it, thinner, less worried?’ Now, 25 years later, I’m married to my best friend and content, debt-free for the most part, fighting a slower-than-ever metabolism and maybe just a little bit worried (I am pretty successful at keeping that one away).
When I was a kid, birthday parties weren’t a big deal. Mom would bake a cake, but I never recall being asked to plan the dinner menu for my birthday. Gifts were small but meaningful – a diary for the budding writer, swim goggles for the girl who wouldn’t leave the ocean until the last minute, a John Denver album because my parents enjoyed him, too. As my eleventh birthday approached, I asked if I could have a party. I don’t think I’d had a birthday party since I was four, but my parents agreed, and told me I could invite up to eight friends (girlfriends, of course, there would be no boys at my party). So I carefully drew up a list that would be as inclusive as I could make it – having felt the sting of being uninvited, I didn’t want to return the deed. Well, a July birthday can be a curse. Vacations, summer travels, beach houses. One by one my invitees called with regrets, except for the Leco twins, who indicated they’d both be out of town. Everyone except for Anne Marie Scotti, one of the first friends I made when we moved to the new house in 1968. Anne Marie was coming to my party! My dad lit the charcoal and our family of five, plus Anne Marie, enjoyed hamburgers and corn-on-the-cob, followed by strawberry shortcake (the only dessert my dad would eat). Anne Marie gave me some pretty writing paper and saved my eleventh birthday.
When I turned 30, my rich friend Ellen took me to Boston to buy me clothes, then dinner and drinks at Legal Seafoods. On my 40th, it was back to Boston, this time with my husband of four years, and we dined at the Top of the Hub in the John Hancock Tower. And believe it or not, I spent my 50th birthday in Boston, at the annual Fraud Conference, held at Copley Place. Today, it’s a quieter day, but no less special, remembering parents now gone, friends close and far, my best friend treating me with the same love and reverence he does every day. I am 53! And I am blessed.