Here in Brasher-Cunninghamland, birthdays are full of surprises. I never know what the day will hold (or even the night before) until it arrives, and even then it unfolds a few hours at a time. When we pulled up in front of the Playmakers Repertory Company to see The Little Prince, one of my all-time favorite stories. The play was beautifully set, creatively presented, and wonderfully true to the book. I smiled when I heard my favorite line, spoken to the Prince by the fox:
One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
My celebration kicked off with an evening of bowling with friends on Thursday night, followed by Mexican food. As though rented shoes and rellenos might not be enough, Friday started with time to relax and then lunch at Mami Nori’s Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken, which continues our tradition of Ginger taking me to eat some sort of ethnic food I’ve not had before. According to the family that runs the restaurant, the pollo a la braza is Peruvian street food, cooked over a wood fire. I had it with tostones (plantain chips) and yucca fries. The meal was made complete by Mami Nora and the fam singing “Happy Birthday” to me and giving me a piece of tres leches cake.
Our evening began by stopping by to help celebrate the sixty-fifth birthday of a friend from church and then we went to the play. After the theater, we went to the Magnolia Grill for desseert (thanks to an old gift certificate) where I had tiramisu waffles with espresso ice cream with chocolate chunks and caramel sauce. I also had a cup of coffee and, since it was my birthday, a glass of bourbon that was old enough to vote. But we weren’t through yet. From there we headed west on I-85, at eleven o’clock and stopped at the Steak n Shake in Burlington, North Carolina, which happened to be peopled with the youth group from Hampton Baptist Church led by our friends Charles and Jennifer Smith, who also parent our godchildren, Ally and Samuel. The last minutes of my birthday passed in the company of friends, even as the day had been spotted with calls and notes from friends all over the place.
I didn’t get much sleep, but my heart sees clearly: I am loved, I am loved, I am really loved. And I am deeply grateful.