Birthday Surprises

I know. It’s Tuesday and I missed my Monday deadline, but I have a really good excuse.

This weekend I surprised my eldest daughter for her 25th birthday. I had not celebrated a birthday with her since she was 17 years old and living at home. She had left for college (2500 miles and two plane rides away) eight years ago, and after college she was traveling around the world and/or always working in remote locations. Now settled outside of Portland, it was the first time I could spend her birthday with her in years.

It was my middle daughter who hatched the plan to surprise her for her birthday. If she was willing to travel all the way from the East Coast to the West Coast for the weekend, I thought it would be fun if I flew in from Hawaii and she would have two surprise weekend guests.

My eldest daughter’s girlfriend was the one who orchestrated the whole weekend with us. She arranged to pick me up and told my daughter that she was going to pick up her friend “Steve” from the airport and give him a ride home. Since they live about 45 minutes from the airport, they had made plans to have dinner with a friend in the city beforehand.

My daughter did not realize that “Steve’s flight” came in very late. 10:45pm. She was exhausted after starting work at 6am, so she was having trouble keeping her eyes open. But when she scanned the terminal for a twenty-something 6’4” man, she was completely gobsmacked to find ME sitting on the bench in front of baggage claim. She ran into my arms and we hugged for an impossibly long time… and then we both cried a little. It was very special.

A few days later, on her actual birthday, her girlfriend and I pretended that we had not made any plans for the day. We would spend the day doing whatever she wanted to do. She wanted to go back into the city and walk around the world famous Rose Garden in Portland and then grab some lunch. On the way there, I kept thinking about the song “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.” They had never heard the song, so, I Googled it and played it on YouTube. We cracked up at how dated it sounded 50 years later. But, ironically, they ended up singing along to this classic tune as we drove towards the city.

After our walk through the Rose Garden, we told her that we had to pick up a little delicious surprise. We blindfolded her so she would not see the airport signage, but we arrived too early and ended up sitting in the cell phone waiting area for quite awhile. Her blindfold started to annoy her. We told her the surprise was “not quite ready” giving her the impression that we were probably getting her a cake or something delicious to eat.

Finally, we pulled up to the Arrivals, but we couldn’t find her middle sister anywhere. I jumped out to look for her, but an airport cop told me that we had to move our car. I called her sister to find out where she was, and she insisted she was standing outside the Arrival area. She even texted me a photo. It was then that I realized that she was upstairs at the Departure level… which I inadvertently blurted out loud in frustration. When her older sister heard the word Departure, she started to put the pieces together.

The birthday girl was onto us.

In addition to the annoyance of driving around in circles, my eldest daughter became annoyed that she was still blindfolded. We circled the airport one more time before locating my middle daughter at the Departure level. At which point, the my eldest had guessed that her sister had flown in to surprise her and ripped off the blindfold. She teared up a little when she saw her, but then quickly said it was because the blindfold made her eyes hurt. She joked that she was a little disappointed that she wasn’t a cake.

That was the only glitch of the weekend. If it had been five minutes earlier. No slip of the tongue with the Departure word, and had her sister known to take one more escalator down to baggage claim, we would have pulled off two airport arrival surprises perfectly. Oh well.

We spent the rest of the weekend talking, laughing, and eating. My middle daughter slept on the sofa and I slept on an air mattress in the living room. I had sprained my lower back the weekend before playing in a tennis tournament, so the combination of jet lag, a very sore back, and an air mattress did not afford me much sleep. I think I averaged 3 or 4 hours a night. My eldest daughter and her partner offered me their bed multiple times, but I am not sure it would have mattered where I slept… I could not sleep.

Monday morning, we got up at 4:30am so that my middle daughter could make her 6:45am flight back to the East Coast. My flight did not leave until 9:45am, so I had three extra hours in the airport. I didn’t mind. I had work to do. I had downloaded about a dozen podcasts, three Spotify playlists, bought a new book, and just discovered a Sudoku and Solitaire app on my phone. I was good to go for a three-hour airport wait and a six-hour flight home.

My heart was so full from spending the weekend with my older girls that I could have floated home. Who needs more than three hours sleep?

It turns out I do.

When I landed back in Hawaii, I felt like a train had hit me. I could barely climb into my husband’s car when he met me curbside. We went straight to our favorite hole-in-the-wall and ate fish tacos. I indulged in a good old-fashioned ice-cold coca-cola. My drug of choice when I have hit the wall of exhaustion.

My battery was recharged and I was ready to finish writing my blog.

But when I arrived home, the usual Monday suspects were waiting for me: A basket full of dirty laundry, a dishwasher than needed to be emptied, an empty refrigerator, and a dog that needed my full attention. Needless to say, that is why it is Tuesday… and I am just getting around to publishing my post for the week.

A small price to pay for an awesome surprise birthday weekend with my older girls. I loved every minute of it.