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No Strawberry Shortcake This Time, But…

Thursday, June 9, 2011

June 11, 1988.  During a week of record-breaking heat, baby girl Russell is delivered at Beth Israel Hospital.   My sister Alice got sick so she could conveniently stay home and figure out what was going on with this new little creature.  As the story goes, after a month or so, Alice astutely observed, “She’s here every day!”

1994- 2000.  When we were little, birthdays meant a themed afternoon party (in addition to the staple family dinner out and presents).  I remember the joy of going to Connelly’s to pick out candies for goodie bags, and then carefully filling them.  Mmm, I think Siobhan will like the strawberry blowpop best.  Apparently one year my mom was afraid not enough kids were coming, so she invited my uncle, and there he is the family photo album, doing an egg race.  We also had a special rule that you could pick any “sweetsie cereal” to buy on your birthday.  I always picked Honey-nut Cheerios, and my sister picked Rice Krispie Treats.

2000- 2002.  In middle school, I celebrated birthdays with a sleepover in a tent in our backyard.  My mom lamented that sleepovers should be called “over-nights”, because no one sleeps.  This is true, and I remember feeling a little guilty/ hung-over if the family celebration was the next day.  Once we drove all the way to Portsmouth on a school night so we could go to my favorite restaurant, Mr. India.  I also discovered Leonardo DiCaprio was born on November 11, a fact that somehow made me, also an 11, feel special.

2004.   Sweet 16 in Québec City, with a school group.  Divine three-chocolate mouse.

2005.  The day I turned 17 I was driving from Paris to Provence with my high school class of 27.  I wore the new purple skirt I had just bought, and opened a package that my mom had sent along with my best friend.

2008.  My family came to Northampton to see my first apartment.  Alice took the bus up from New York.  We went out to dinner with my girlfriend, and later we hosted a few friends for strawberry shortcake and beer.

2009.  I met my dad at the Kendall Square Cinema to see Rudo y Cursi, the movie reunion of actors Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna and director Carlos Cuarón from Y Tu Mamá También.  I remember going for a run in the cool, overcast morning with my brand-new iPod shuffle I had gotten at NCAA’s.  Later we met my mom for a dinner of my favorite foods at a Mexican restaurant.  I was disappointed when I wasn’t carded when I ordered my michelada (this was the big 21), and then embarrassed when my dad mentioned something about it to the waiter, who, when my parents went to get the car, asked me what I was doing  later.  He was cute, but I didn’t take him up on the offer.

2010.  I turned 22 in Nazaré, Portugal.  It was the warmest day yet of my post-graduation splurge vacation, and I put on a red dress, drank a bottle of vinho verde with my mom on the beach, and ate dinner at a small restaurant with the World Cup on TV.

June 11, 2011.  I’ve been away for my birthday plenty of times, but it’s never been winter.  Who changed the date?  My birthday dessert is always strawberry shortcake, it’s just after the school year has ended, the days are long and warming up.  Here in Palena, it’s, well, see above. 

But I have to say, some things are looking great for my 23rd.  A friend is planning a “surprise” party, though I know it’s in my house on Friday, and we made an invite-list together, but he has banished me from asking about any other details.  So while it might be cold, it might also be the first year I have friends around to celebrate with since high school.  I think it’s mostly that in Palena, everyone under 40 is always complaining about the lack of carrete (partying, dancing, going out), so I’m happy to provide that opportunity!  I’m also planning a special meal with my good friend and Foundation colleague, as her birthday is next week.  And I have a big juicy box under my bed from Ipswich that I’m not allowed to open until Saturday!

All in all, I am feeling pretty good, but also trying not to build things up too much.  My family sometimes talks about a “birthday week” to take the pressure off of one day to be Perfect, because that inevitably ends in disappointment, i.e.  it’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to.  One of my mom’s good friends has taken this to the extreme of celebrating a “birthday month”, sprinkling fun things here and there.  Similarly, I am trying to not put all my eggs in one basket, and remembering all the good things happening here (there’s one exciting new really good thing that’s slowly building, I think!), my family coming in July, and so on.  But this much I can count on: dancing into the wee hours on Friday!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. David Russell permalink
    Thursday, June 9, 2011 5:53 pm

    Oh Meg, How can I not comment! All those Birthdays, such a way of loving and being loved. It will be sad not to share the day with you but also so wonderful to think of you in Palena celebrating. You have really pulled together an amazing experience – because Dah Sherlock, YOU are amazing, xoxo

    • David Russell permalink
      Thursday, June 9, 2011 5:55 pm

      Meg – that last one is from me, mom, don’t know why it’s coming up as Daddy…

  2. Thursday, June 9, 2011 6:17 pm

    well, likely because you’re logged into his email or something. I read the comment and thought, really? Dad’s saying “dah, sherlock” now? Thanks Mommy!

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