I just had a very wonderful and timely birthday.
I have had a hard time in this extended drought of mine being able to accept and fully enjoy the times when people decide to do nice things for me. It sort of soothes me on the surface, but underneath I don’t feel I really deserve it and doesn’t do anything to get my closer to certain goals so it just doesn’t lift my spirit like I need.
There is one day of the year when anything that anyone does especially for you is totally and completely acceptable and deserved. That is your birthday. I really needed my birthday, and I got exactly what I needed out of it.
I got a surprise visit from grandparents. It really was a complete surprise, my sister having weighed the options decided in favor of not telling me what was going on, and thankfully everything worked out well for it. I was actually glad to see them though it wasn’t what I’d had in mind for my birthday. When they got out of the car, I was there, and they were facing me, and there was no time to sulk and tense up and think about the situation. My grandparents are very special people. They’re of course older folks, they have some more traditional views on life and such, they are republican and christian, and my grandmother is …jovially racist. (Jovial when not confronted with a person of color entering her home or dating one of her grand daughters. It is pure luck that my sister and I haven’t had a serious relationship with anyone who isn’t white.) They are however, in all of these things apparently moderate and laid back. Normally I would tell any contemporary of mine who meets them to totally stay away from politics. Things went a little differently this time as the plan had been for my romantic interest and I to hang out with my sister and her husband, we had no idea of any other familial relations attending. I did not have a chance to warn him or go over touchy areas. He did manage to ask me to ‘help him’ with some stuff that he got out of his apt, and he asked me for some pointers with them, I still was so surprised by it all that I really forgot about any political restrictions and just said ‘they’re pretty laid back country folk, use moderation’ thinking of his family which can be a bit tight laced in general. So, my dear radical companion actually managed to strike a balance in total honesty of confronting my republican grandmother with his political ideas, allowing for her to put in a few counter points and coming to some respectful consensuses on current issues. He told some off color jokes that she fully enjoyed and other comments were met with silence. Overall it left me with a great appreciation for everyone involved, and I was glad that I hadn’t had time to ban politics from the conversation. At some point I have to accept that I am part of an american family and it’s not fair to actively keep my family from discussing common issues that effect us all.
I have a pretty great appreciation for the fact that I have conservative grandparents with whom I don’t have to hide the totality of proclivities (I had dressed for an evening with my fellow nerd sister and her husband, wearing a graphic novel t-shirt with a girl with a mo-hawk and myself with unshaven legs) or those of my lover. True they don’t know that I’m bisexual, that I enjoy some mentally stimulating substances (“drugs”), that I don’t consider myself christian in even the slightest degree, or that my long term relationship is actually non- prohibitively-monogamous and includes sometimes heavy s&m, but these things are actually unknowns. They don’t ask, I don’t have to lie, I just don’t rub their faces in it, and for that they give me all the love, acceptance, friendliness and pride they have to offer. I really, really, really appreciate this and I feel incredibly fortunate to be in this position– in the cracks between groups who agree with each other connecting them through family. If somehow my grandmother ever does find out about on of my habits/inclinations that she doesn’t agree with, I’ll deal with it then, and I won’t be afraid to ‘lose’ her support, but I have hope that the time I’ve spent respecting her sensitivity would build up a cushion that might lead her to continue to accept me even if circumstances did remove the veil.
As far as what I received for my Birthday, it couldn’t have been more perfect. Cash and chocolate. Exactly as much as I needed from my grandparents to get to being able to cover important bills and food, and some extra from my sister in a visa gift card. Everyone got me chocolate. It was so very very wonderful. My sister made me a (for the second year in a row, by my request) dark choclate orange cheesecake. Ohhhhhhhhhh, it’s heavely. She is an amazing cook. It was exquisite. This year she did less sugar and more orange extract, which was perfect. I got to take home the remaining slices, along with the stack of various high quality non hfcs chocolate bars from my beloved, the additional bar from my sister and the dark chocolate covered cranberries that grandmother bought from my sister’s suggestion. My sister’s always looking out for me.
We all had dinner a lovely vietnamese restaurant, sat at a table with a lazy susan and shared our dishes with one another. Grandparents tried spring rolls and vermicelli bowls!
Then, the next morning my sister made an amazing breakfast, german pancakes (with butter, fresh lemon juice, and powdered sugar), some fresh fruit and berries, and the most AMAZING bacon I’ve ever had. Ever. Ever. She had coated it previously in some brown sugar and mustard and then baked it. The flavor was amazing. Seriously. Everyone needs to try this… several times in their life.
Near the end of the visit my grandmother started to annoy me with being a little cloying, but she was about to go, so hey, I could stand it. The only other time I was seriously annoyed was when she told me she had wanted to come to my door to surprise me, and as a commentary on my weight loss pretend not to recognize me. Also, when I opened the stack of chocolate from my beloved she commented ‘oh but you’ve been working so hard to lose weight’. Yeah, no grandma… if being broke and unemployed is working, someone freaking pay me for it, k? Not that I want to gain weight, but it bothers me how overly positive she is about me losing weight, like it’s the biggest accomplishment possible. Yeah, thanks. But hey– if she’s not going to start acting like an idiot conservative republican when my guy tells her that some wealthy people are going to have to pay taxes if things are going to get better, I can let some stuff slide. Family is never perfect.
CHOCOLATE. OH MY GOD CHOCOLATE. I have so much chocolate!