On February 14th, 2013 I turned 30 years old. I had dreaded that day for a couple of years anytime the thought would cross my mind, but oddly it would become my best birthday yet.
We made tentative plans over Christmas to head down to Jonny and Chiara’s house for a long weekend to celebrate my 30th. I didn’t give it much thought, and a couple of weeks ago I told Jonny we wouldn’t be able to make it because I had to coach a basketball game. He was pretty insistent that I find a way out of that, so I got a friend to pinch hit for me. Strangely this didn’t raise any red flags for a surprise party in my brain, but even if it would have I couldn’t have imagined the scale of what was being planned behind the scenes.
We had a nice time on Thursday, and then on Friday Jonny and I took advantage of a twilight golf rate and walked 18 holes in 3.5 hours. I thought Chiara was making dinner for us, but I was a little confused when I saw a full veggie tray on the dining room table when we walked in. Believe it or not, I still didn’t really think anything of it because Chiara typically goes all out when she is putting together a meal. A few seconds later my pacemaker got a run for its money when the lights came on and about 20 good friends yelled “Surprise!”
If you have ever been surprised, you know that feeling of excitement and confusion that immediately takes over. The first face that really caught my eye was my good friend Steve Turpin, who currently resides in Las Vegas, and that is when I knew this wasn’t some party thrown together earlier that morning. As I made the rounds I came upon Nerk Duggar (AKA Derek Mills), who lives in Austin, TX and is the father of 17 children. Frankly, I was stunned.
The rest of the guest list included a number great friends from my time in college. Virtually all of them found a babysitter and drove anywhere from 45 minutes to 6 hours to be there. A few that I mentioned earlier flew in for the occasion, which was truly overwhelming the more I thought about it. We had a great night of telling stories that I am sure everyone had heard several times before. In my opinion, those are the best kind.
As Tracy Lawrence once said, Time Marches On, and often that marching involves friends moving away, kids being born, and free time disappearing. In that process, it is easy to lose touch with people with whom you share some of the greatest memories of your life. The interesting thing is that in my mind it feels like no time has passed, and there may be people who I haven’t seen in years that I still consider great friends of mine. With all of the planning, time, effort, and cost that went into this weekend, I was reminded that there are a bunch of people who feel the same way about me. That means more to me than I can adequately express, so I’ll just say “thank you.”
To put a cap on the weekend, we left our sons with grandparents back at home for 4 days. As we got closer to Cincinnati, we were increasingly excited to see them again. When I walked in I immediately picked up Jackson and said “Hey, buddy!” His first words were “Dad… I wanna go home.” As hard as the party was to top, it doesn’t get much better than that.