Image by ali edwards
My husband has officially landed on the best birthday gift idea ever. He gave me the gift of free time—do-nothing-but-exactly-what-I-feel-like time.
Of course, technically I could have that kind of me time whenever I want. I could block off a Saturday and decide not to do a lick of work. Jason would be happy to hold down the fort at home. The problem is, that would probably never happen, because I would never make it happen on my own. I might take a few hours off and sit in a cafe to read a book or something, but then I would end up back at home, thinking about the piles of mail I need to sort through and the laundry that needs to be done. I would never be able to devote a whole day, let alone a whole weekend, to me.
So how did Jason make it happen? He invited Jen to come visit for the weekend. It was genius.
Jen and I spent the summer of 1990 living together in a big house on the Jersey shore, with a dozen or so other college kids. (I wrote about our friendship and reconnection here.) When Jason began planning my birthday-weekend party (yes, the big four-oh is tomorrow), he got it in his head that he should invite Jen. She got it in her head that she should make the nine hour drive from Tulsa. That alone makes me feel loved beyond belief—by both Jen and Jason.
Conversation takes time
With Jen here for the weekend, my only responsibility was to spend time with her. After she drove that far to see me, I would certainly feel guilty doing anything else! (Yes, I have a problem with guilt. I’m working through it every day.)
For most of Jen’s visit, we ate and talked. That was the other part of Jason’s genius—he not only knows I love and miss Jen, he knew I needed nothing more than a close friend to talk to.
Jason cooked us a fabulous dinner, while we talked. The three of us sat at the table for a couple of hours and talked. At about 1 am we took a break to get some sleep. Then we got up and talked some more, while Jason made us a yummy breakfast. Then Jen and I went to a cafe and talked, we did some shopping and talked, we ended up back at the house and talked, until it was time to get ready for my party. There, the circle of conversation expanded to more people I love (and stretched into the early hours of morning).
Make new friends, but keep the old
After Jen left on Sunday morning, for her long drive home, I started thinking about our friendship. I especially pondered the different between well-seasoned friendships and new ones. Jason gave me the gift of time through Jen, and Jen also gives me a different gift of time—one that is all about perspective.
That’s what our “old” friends do, after all. Spending time with a friend who knew me 20 years ago helps me step back and see the big picture. It reminds me that I’m still the same person, even though so much has happened in my life, and I’ve changed in so many ways. I often feel so distant from that person I was then, like she’s a stranger, and I simply wasn’t being me. But if Jen and I can go ten years without being in contact, and then instantly love all of the same things about each other that made us friends in the first place, that says something. I was me then, just as she was Jen.
Sure, we have learned and changed and grown over the years, and become enriched in the process, but that’s what growing older is all about, right? By spending time with Jen, I was able to admire a gorgeous vision of that journey into adulthood. I can’t think of a better way to truly celebrate turning forty.
Thank you, Jason. Thank you, Jen.