"One of the signs of passing youth
is the birth of a sense of fellowship
with other human beings as we
take our place among them."
My husband put birthday cards next to my pillow at midnight for me to find, a sentimental, heartfelt one and a wildly funny naughty one with music and flashing lights and a pop-up cut-out of love bunnies when I opened it. Oh my God, I laughed. There was a tissue-wrapped present under the beside lamp, but our daughter was already asleep, so I decided to wait and open the gift in the three minutes I had before she rushed out the door this morning. It was the new instant camera that I had been coveting, Fuji's reinvention of the Kodak instant, the camera that documented all the best moments of my twenties. Digital cameras replaced the Kodak and the Polaroid, but now another company seems to understand the nostalgia some of us feel for those blurry, painterly images, tapping into the excitement of watching as the image develops, a surprise every time.
My mother was the first phone call of the day, and my son risked public embarrassment by making his birthday wish to "the no. 1 lady in my life" his Facebook status. My lovely niece at the same college also wished me happy birthday in her status, and now my wall is a scrolling beauty of greetings and messages from all over, making my world feel loving and connected today.
Now I'm off to put in a regular workday, and then tonight will be a pot luck reunion of the South Africa travel group—teachers, students and their parents. My husband is making poached salmon and my daughter is baking a cake, and we will all go and celebrate the success of the the trip and watch a slide show of our students and see the art they help the South African children create and we will feel grateful that they were able to experience such purpose and fellowship.
Speaking of fellowship, I am awed and humbled by the sustenance and friendship I have found here, and on this day I really just want to say thank you for this beautiful and unexpected gift.