Birthday Story for Myself
This is a birthday story for myself but also for you all. In a way, it is a confessional, about a time that is long gone, but a time that I simply cannot shake.
There are things about which I can’t help but think about every now and then, and especially in bed, early in the morning, when I feel too lazy or too tired to get up and do something.
And the story of this birthday or to be more exact, how a get a specific birthday present and from whom is one of these things I think about every now and then. When I reflect on it now, it is both a funny but also a bittersweet birthday story for myself.
But before I get to the crux of the matter I have to take a little side story. Bare with me for a second, it will all make sense further down the line (much like many other things in life, make much more sense later in life, than they do while they initially happen).
I’m a Celtics fan, through and through. I got the green fever, passion or whatever you want to call it from my dad, and he got it from his dad. We are all of the Irish descent and we couldn’t help but cheer for a team that carries with itself reminders of who we are and where my ancestors have come from.
For all of you who are unfamiliar with the NBA, the Celtics are one of the most successful teams in the league, ever since the NBA was founded 60, 70 years ago. Their arch nemesis are the Lakers from Los Angeles. This will come into play a bit later in this birthday story for myself, a true story none the less.
It was my 19th birthday. It wasn’t much different than the previous birthdays I had. The usual birthday gifts, birthday presents, birthday cards. The only difference was that at that time I had my first real girlfriend, someone who I really felt deeply about.
For the first time ever I was really heading over heels for someone and she, for the first time also, feel the same way about me. But, she didn’t attend my birthday party. My mom wasn’t too happy about us dating. My mom, like the rest of my Irish family, were devout Catholics. Helen, my then girlfriend was an atheist, almost to a militant level.
I remember knowing that the religion was a huge divide between us, back then I still believe what my parents believed, more as inheritance than as an actual choice about the principles and worldview on which I want to build my life. My mother also didn’t like the way she dressed.
Helen was a goth girl, always in black, with thick eyeliner. My mom would say that she looked like she has a funeral to attend to every damn day. I didn’t care, she was beautiful and her eyes were full of magnificent, hypnotic shine.
The party went well I guess, a few friends, edgy teenage music, a really delicious cake with chocolate and walnuts, which we later found out didn’t really suit my friend Dylan. Allergies can ruin so many things, not just the spring. I didn’t really focus on what was happening.
I was going through the motions, as one usually does when you want to be somewhere else. In this case, I and Helen were supposed to meet up around 9. She said she had a very special gift from me. I was really excited.
She said she really thought it thought and thinks its a very special gift, a gift nobody else would dare to give me. My expectations were reaching the stratosphere. Now follows the most essential part of this birthday story for myself.
After all the guests have left I showered, get ready and just stormed out the door. I couldn’t wait to see Helen and, of course, to find out what this perfect birthday present was. I came there first. So my waiting and anticipation continued to build. I even started to chew on my nails.
A disgusting habit I know, but there are things stronger than us and I was too nervous. Finally, she appeared, dark as the night that was settling around us. Her long silky brown hair dancing slightly in the icy breeze. Our eyes met and we smiled at each other.
I noticed she was carrying something in her hands. It was wrapped in blue, not too professionally done. She probably wrapped it herself, I concluded. I rushed a few steps forward to meet her. We hugged and then kisses, a few times, my birthday present squeezed between us.
I told her that I could wait to see her, and she just replied, with a dose of cool sarcasm, probably to see that presented that I hyped up so much. We both laughed and she passed me the present, she said happy birthday and called me darling.
I just rushed through that thing like a savage, not caring how to wrap tares or where it will end up with the help of the wind. And what did my eyes see… A basketball jersey.
But not any all basketball jersey. a freaking Lakers jersey. Helen wasn’t really into sports nor did she care to be introduced to them. She watched a few games with me, or to put it more correctly, sat taught them.
So my first thought was she must have mistaken which team I love, and which I freaking hate. Then I looked at her. She was ready to burst out laughing. She knew which team I loved but she gave me that jersey on purpose.
She knew me the best out of everyone during our time together, and she was the only one who could give me such a present, one which I would understand was a gag gift. She always had a wonderful sense of humor. And I laughed too.
One of the last times that we laughed so joyfully together. This is where this birthday story for myself turns from funny to sad or bittersweet birthday story for myself.
Soon after the birthday, we started to fall apart. Everything culminated with 2 hellish months of breaking up and making up almost every day. Eventually, we called it quits.
Years have gone by, but I still think about Helen, how easily everything went with her, how much she knew about me and wonder what if we met each other later down the line, would we have succeeded as a couple and stayed longer together.
It is impossible to know, but at least I wouldn’t have that disgusting Lakers jersey in my closet.
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