Tuesday - November 03, 2009

Category Image Birthdays

I have two favorite birthdays that I remember.  The rest are all a blur.  One was when I was in my mid thirties and a bunch of guys I hung around with at work, Jamie, Jason, Randall, and others, all came over to my place, completely unannounced, and took me tubing down in San Marcos.  It was a nice surprise and I still don't know how they knew it was my birthday.

But to this day, my most memorable birthday was in August of 1975.  My dad had been transferred by the navy to Keflavik, Iceland.  He had been living there the past couple months alone while waiting for housing to become available for us.  We arrived just a few days before my birthday.

I remember it for two reasons.  First, I was so relieved to not see molten lava flowing down the streets.  I had read too many National Geographic articles and news stories about the volcano eruptions in the early seventies.  I fully expected that we would die a horrible death shortly after arriving and until that happened we would be running from the lava flows every moment.

When we arrived and I saw that the skies were clear and sunny, I couldn't have been happier.  That the buildings looked older than a few weeks was quite reassuring.  

We arrived a few days before my birthday, so my parents had too many things to take care of to be too concerned about my birthday.  When the day came, I was still pretty out of sorts from adjusting to the time change, the continuous daylight, and the alien surroundings.  

Usually on birthdays in my family, we had a nice party, cake, ice cream, and each sibling was expected to buy a present for the birthday kid.  This time was different.  My mom and dad took us all to the nearby hobby store extension of the base exchange.  It was in walking distance and had all the typical hobby stuff of the day:  tube testers for televisions (does anyone even know what these are anymore?), radios, arts and crafts, and most importantly to me, model ships and air planes.

Mom and Dad probably felt bad that the day wasn't set up to be more "special" but I still cherish that day more than just about any in my life.  I picked out the nicest model in the store, a three foot long USS Enterprise CVN-65, and they didn't say no, they didn't tell me to find something else, and I got to pick it.  My brothers and sister were so nice to me, too.  They all stood by and patiently watched as I picked it out.  They didn't ask for anything for themselves and they all said such nice things to me.  Sibling rivalry was on hold, if only for the few minutes in the store.  I was so happy, and being re-united with my dad made it special too.  

Of course, I don't have that model anymore, but I have a grainy picture of it in my files somewhere.  

Okay, it may seem silly to anybody else, but that's probably one of the happiest days of my life.  I got a nice birthday present AND I wasn't running away from lava.

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