The Saturday before my birthday was supposed to have that surprise that Bryce had engineered (and was causing me a fair amount of anxiety). Sadly, Friday afternoon he received word that what it was supposed to be had been cancelled for lack of interest. Which was immediately obvious as a crushing blow to Bryce, who had been planning this thing for a couple of weeks. He spilled the beans over dinner--he had gotten me a class at Writers and Books (a local literary resource I've been meaning to explore) on how to turn your blog into an ebook. HOW THOUGHTFUL! How amazing! How crappy that it was cancelled! But, not to be squelched, Bryce signed me up for a 1 hour 15 minute one on one session with the teacher to be done at a mutually convenient time. So all was not lost! It was a very thoughtful gift and not one that I was terrified of (no writing would be done in the class). Of course, there's that thing that says you should do one thing each day that scares you. That would probably be good for me and Bryce knows it, but luckily for me I went the day scareless.
|I need you to notice Bryce's Einstein tie|
lurking behind the wine bottle.
I love this man so.
Speaking of the food, it was phenomenal. We decided to go all out and eat our faces off. We started with sharing the Duck Tacos. OHHOLYJESUS they were the most amazing things I've ever put in contact with my taste buds. Freshly made corn tortillas holding shreds of smoked duck in a citrusy marinade with peach cole slaw and freshly pickled slices of ginger. I COULD HAVE EATEN TWELVE OF THEM. I still dream of them. They were amazing.
|No picture of salads, but look!|
Pretty centerpiece flowers!
Then... dinner. I got the Sweet and Spicy Duck Breast over cheddar grits with pea tendrils and pickled cranberries. See how happy I am about my duck? Doesn't it look AMAZING? Those grits were so creamy and delicious, and the duck was perfectly tender on the inside and crispy fatty on the outside like good duck is supposed to be, and those pea tendrils were surprisingly good! It was like having little vines on my plate, but they tasted just like sweet pea pods. I don't like my food to touch normally but in this case every little thing added to every other little thing and the touching didn't bother me one bit. It was so, so good. (See? I didn't say AMAZING.)
Bryce got a burger, which sounds not so exciting but it was completely delicious and well seasoned and came with these frites with a russian dipping sauce and the frites were GLUTEN FREE! They have a separate fryer! Hallelujah!
Dessert was a little harder, as almost everything was NOT gluten free. No creme brulee even, but a lot of really delicious sounding pastries. All was not completely lost though, because they had sorbet. I got this very odd sounding ricotta sorbet, which was actually refreshing and like a really light ice cream. We toyed with the idea of one more cocktail for me, but we left. And then Bryce had an idea...
Did I mention that I had sprained my ankle a week before? That for some reason, I sprained it WALKING a three mile vigorous walk around my neighborhood and it had blown up like a balloon by evening the next day and I had just thought, "Hmm, my ankle hurts!" (which is a horrible testament to my pain tolerance apparently), and I looked and my ankle had ELEPHANTITIS? It was helped with ice and elevation and one of those compression sock-type braces, but surprisingly stubborn. However, I was NOT going to wear an ugly black ankle brace and sneakers with my cute birthday dress. I was going to wear NICE SHOES. So, for the evening, I took off the brace and wore these lovely sensible mary jane pumps with a 1940s style heel. They had a buckle. They had a low chunky-ish heel. They were fine aalllll night.
Until...klutziness took over. We got out of the car at the end of the night, in our walkway, and I walked towards the door. Halfway down the walk my ankle turned. Turned hard. In an effort not to slam it into the pavers and do horrible damage, I tried to overcompensate. I hurtled myself forward in the other direction, but that ended up looking like a crazy run as I staggered towards the front steps. And launched myself into the flower bed, over the boxwood, and onto the steps themselves. My ankle hurt, but now my forearm hurt worse as I pretty much grated it on the rough stone and cut it on my bicep and put new bruises on my shin. At first, Bryce said, "Why are you running towards the door?" and then he came running over to see if I was ok. I laughed maniacally. I thought it was HILARIOUS that the night ended with me attacking my boxwood bush and landing on the stairs. My forearm beaded up with blood and started swelling as I limped towards the door. Once inside, I washed out my forearm and put the gauze contraption on so it could air out but not be totally raw to the elements, and put that stupid brace back on. Where it stayed for another week or so. All week my arm turned pretty colors and I was thankful I didn't break the stupid thing. My students asked what happened and I told them I lost an epic battle with my stairs. People on facebook largely assumed I was toasted off my rocker and put comments like "Party ANIMAL!" on my picture, which I couldn't NOT share because it was just so classic. First I sprain my ankle walking and then I dump it at the very end of a very lovely night. It didn't make the night a bust at all, it just added some hilarity, in my opinion.
On my actual birthday, Bryce kept the celebrations coming. I came home from work a bit early, and was hanging out at home when he called.
"Are you at home?" he asked.
"Because I need you to leave."
"Leave? Like for a walk, or can I hide in the backyard?" I asked.
"You need to leave. Like get in your car and drive somewhere. I don't want you walking for the twenty minutes I need."
Hmmmm. So I left. And sat in the parking lot of a local county park like a creeper, wondering what the heck he was up to. Was he confetti bombing the house? Would there be ponies? WHO KNEW WHAT HE WAS CAPABLE OF!
I came back and Bryce was in the window, out and out giggling. I looked in the mailbox and there was an envelope sticking out:
I had six clues that led me all over the house.
I don't know if you can read these, but they were quite clever.
1) Make your way to the digital gutenburg press. (printer)
2) Race cars, travel through time, fight battles, kill zombies, dusty and white.
This one was tough. I thought maybe it was hidden in our copy of I Am Legend, because it contains most of those things, but I was wrong.
(It was the X-box.)
3) It is closed. It will open again soon. It sits in the center of the table, keeping the rain from my head. Watch for the spiders...
(This was the patio umbrella in our Secret Garden on the side of the house. I have an irrational fear of spiders dropping from it when I open it up... this time only a clue dropped. Thank god!)
4) It comes. It goes, taking with it just enough to sustain the cold. Here one moment, gone the next, like a candle light ________ing in the wind."
(So clever! Flicker, as in the Northern Flicker that sometimes graces our suet feeder off the back patio. WE ARE SUCH NERDS, but this was so much fun!)
5) YOU ARE CLOSE NOW. RED.
(I have this little red chair without a seat that I have been meaning to spraypaint lime green or violet for the garden, it's in with my ferns and hostas in the shade garden but I knew just what he meant!)
6) I did so well until the last one...
"If at midnight you were to creep down a dark basement hallway of an abandoned rustic house with nothing more than a flashlight...no matter which way you faced you would always think there was a ghoul here"
"IN THE CLOSET!" I yelled. Bryce looked a little strangely at me. "No, you're in the basement. No closet. Where's the ghoul?"
And when I whipped around, I saw this:
He could have totally just jerry-rigged a wrap job, but he sent me on a hunt all over the house and yard to find it in the most fun way possible.
I LOVE THIS MAN SO MUCH.
He literally took my birthday and made it impossible for me to be sad about it. How can you be sad about scavenger hunts and delicious food and surprises galore? YOU CAN'T.
Dinner was a home cooked meal courtesy of the man, dry aged rib eye steak with waffle fries and lemon-parmesan asparagus, accompanied by a wine we'd been saving since the year we started dating. A 2006 Amon Ra shiraz that was the first pricey wine we'd ever bought, and it seemed like forever before it would be "ready." But 2014 fell in the early end of "ready," so we popped it for my birthday. It was really, really tasty. (And in case you look it up, when we bought it it was NOWHERE NEAR the price you can get for it now.) We ended the night with Frozen (a gift from my Dad along with Tangled, and because it was my birthday Bryce COULDN'T SAY NO! BWAH-HA HA) and gluten free Gooey Cake, which needed a bit more doctoring on our end but it was delicious and cream-cheesy all the same.
It was a beautiful tribute to another year of life on this planet. It was a beautiful weekend of surprises and laughter and a lot of love. It was a day that made me realize all over again how incredibly lucky I am to have snagged this amazing man, who makes each moment a fun one and brings out the best in me all the time.
We may not have the present we've been longing for, but man, are we lucky to have each other. Thanks, babe, for the amazingly special birthday, and for making me nearly completely forget what we're missing. For a little while, that absence didn't feel like a missing piece as much as a highly-desired addition we'd like to include in our incredibly full life together.