Erin was 17 when I met her.
I remember not knowing what the hell to get her for her birthday. We had been dating for six months, and I had quickly learned that this was a girl that did not want things. She was then and is now someone that wants gestures and such, events and things, feelings and whatnot.
Even for a girly guy like me, these things are not easy. Men operate on an object principle. We like stuff. We enjoy things. Items always go over well with us when birthdays roll around. I’m usually pretty good at finding presents for people like me.
To be honest, I don’t remember what I came up with for her birthday that year. I’m sure it was fairly crappy, seeing as I had no money and didn’t know what one bought for girlfriends (never having had one before). I do remember finding it strange that her family acknowledged her birthday on the day itself, baked a cake, sang Happy Birthday, and made an effort to be together. In a house full of guys, we didn’t often remember when each other’s birthdays were, and we never sang, and we often bought our own presents and submitted receipts to one another.
(Before you judge us, I will point out that this system worked very well for as long as it was just my dad, my brother, and me living together. Whenever women came into the picture, they fouled up this system and insisted on proper birthday etiquette.)
Now Erin and I are celebrating her 28th birthday, which makes me feel really old. Baby’s birthday isn’t all that far away now (6 weeks or so), and I’m pretty excited to find out when it actually will be (although I hope that it isn’t one of those loser days, like the 12th).
I think that the 0th birthday is by far the most impressive one, and should be celebrated to the utmost. If you think about it, it takes a lot of nerve to work your way through a tiny opening to leave a warm, comfortable womb for the cold, loud, hostile world outside. I don’t even like to get out of the shower in the morning, so I can only imagine the force of will necessary to get out and then have to use your lungs and digestive system for the first time. Those babies are tough customers.
So happy birthday, Erin, and happy future birthday to my other girl, still waiting to set the date for the rest of her life.