I’m writing this on my birthday and feeling more than usually grateful.
“What do you want to do?” my husband, Peter, asks, as he always does on my birthday.
Peter refuses to celebrate his own birthday, but he only applies the no-birthday rule to himself. I am free to celebrate any way I want – so long as I don’t expect any kind of surprise from him. I don’t.
And so I tried to think of what would make my day special, and it was hard. Because, these days, all my days are pretty darned special.
We just landed in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, the day before yesterday, and there are a lot of wonderful restaurants we could go to. There is a hot spring not far away. I could get a massage. But none of those things sounded like anything I wanted to do. When I was totally honest, what I wanted to do was to stay right where I was.
When we are in Mexico, we stay in a little one-bedroom apartment. The countertops and furnishings are very 1980s. The sheets are dried on the line on the roof, so they are nice and crisp. The dishes don’t match. The bathroom is not luxurious. We love it.
When I thought about what a perfect day would look like, it would involve a little writing and a lot of vegetables – and cake. So that’s what I did.
I sat at my little green Formica desk in the apartment, and I wrote a few words. I’m working on a new novel, and it delights me. It’s different from anything I’ve written before, and it has a little girl named Lizzie in it. So I wrote a scene with Lizzie.
Then I went to the market. There is a giant open-air food market just a couple of blocks away from our apartment. My favorite fruit and vegetable seller, Veronica, was there. It’s the slow time of year in town, and she was happy to see me.
“What do you need?” she asked.
“I need everything!” I told her.
When I got home, I counted, and I had purchased exactly 12 different fruits and vegetables from Veronica. She always helps me pick out the nicest produce. Honestly, I might have bought more, but that was all that would fit in my three shopping bags.
Then, before I got back to the apartment, I stopped at the cake shop. All they sell are cakes. I went in and bought myself one. It was a small cake with fresh strawberries on top.
When I got back to the apartment, Peter had already cooked garbanzo beans for my salad. He set to work cooking beets and carrots because, at this altitude, we pressure cook them, and Peter is the king of pressure-cooking. (Peter has many other specialized skills. Pressure cooking is just one of them.) Then I went for a walk. The clouds moved in, and the temperature dropped. I took pictures.
I suspect that there are more than a few people who would say I have a boring life, and I would not give them an argument. But I’ve had a few birthdays by now, and I feel very fortunate to know what I like. I like fresh fruit and vegetables. I like spending time with Peter. I like to write and to walk. And I like cake.
And I am very grateful because I know I am doubly lucky. I’m lucky to have a wonderful life, and I’m luckier yet to know what a wonderful life it is.
Till next time,