1. When I turned 4 we had cake with my brother's friend from 2 houses down, Adam, and my 2 cousins who lived next door, Amy & Jenny. The cake had one of those shaped sugar decorations in the shape of Snow White, and I was making everyone laugh with jokes about eating her head. It's my first memory of making my peers laugh.
2. On my 5th birthday, we lived with my Aunt Jeannie. I remember a bike (tricycle?) with a basket on the front being wheeled into Jeannie's kitchen. More than the bike, I remember that the basket was full of books.
3. My brother Richard and I spent a few weeks with our grandparents in Naperville, IL, the summer I turned 10, and we met up with our parents & little sister Katherine in St. Louis on my 10th birthday. We went to church (it was on a Sunday that year, too), we went to the St. Louis zoo, and saw the arch, which freaked me out. It seemed unreal, and at 10-years old I had a Buddhist moment in which I realized that everything was illusory or impermanent. Then we went to the Spaghetti Factory for dinner!
4. During my teen years I always requested the same birthday meal: shrimp and twice-baked potatoes, yellow cake with chocolate frosting, and my Mother always complied beautifully. She makes the best cake.
5. Around my 17th birthday I'd made vague plans to do something one night with my best friend Robin, who was nice enough to come and pick me up, though because she was really late I gave her a hard time about it all the way back to her house. Back to her house, where a surprise party was waiting for me! I felt bad about giving her a hard time about being late, but not so bad that I didn't totally enjoy myself.
6. When I turned 20, Toby surprised me with a trip to New Orleans. I'd never really been anywhere on my own, as an "adult", and it was the first of over 50 trips we've taken together over almost 18 years.
7. On my 23rd birthday Toby gave me a "promise to get married when we're both ready" ring.
8. For some reason I remember everything we did the day of my 25th birthday, which culminated in a dinner with friends featuring rabbit as the main course.
9. When I turned 30 I wanted something special, but I didn't, and I didn't know what it might be that I might want if I really did want something special. But it didn't matter, because my best friend Heather took care of everything and threw me a surprise party.
10. The 30's, so far, all run together, much like the teen years, but there have certainly been some fun times, like a bunch of friends gathering at Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant, going to visit my sister right around my birthday and having her homemade frosting, and all of the rounds of "Happy Birthday" sung to me at bookclub.
11. So far today I've had a lovely Sunday morning with Toby, read a little, painted a little, and had a pimento cheese sandwich for lunch.