The birthday surprise

As my birthday is right around the corner – only 3 days away – I can’t help but to think back 6 years ago. I turned 18 that spring(ish – not sure what the 1st of May counts as… Late spring, early summer?) and my friend Corona (that’s obviously not her real name but protecting people and what not… AND also people for some odd reason had a very hard time to remember her real name but somehow they did remember Corona… odd, huh?) and I planned a crazy 3-days-party marathon. We cheated a little bit and started celebrating 3 days before my real birthday… Needless to say that by the time the 1st of May came around we were hung over and exhausted but when you are that young, you don’t care.

Early on the 1st of May, I tried my very best to look decent, I put on my dark jeans, my light-blue Timberlands (which up to this day I still own and use), a sweatshirt and my h&m tiara (a must when you turn 18, right?). I looked alright, I definitely wasn’t dressed up, just very casual as I headed to my grandparents. The plan was to have lunch/dinner together and celebrate my birthday with my close family. My grandparents were supposed to take me to the restaurant where we were supposed to meet my parents and brothers. I say ‘supposed to be’ because I thought, that was, what we were doing.

As I entered my grandparents’ living room, I noticed that both of them were super dressed up, very formal, very not like me. I asked my grandma why they looked so good (also kind of felt guilty that I didn’t look at my best), but she said that they just felt like it, it was a big occasion, I only turn 18 once. I noticed that both of them were very quiet too, very uneasy, which I didn’t understand, so I tried everything to lift their spirits. It all ended up with my grandma laughing so hard, she started crying in the car on the way to the restaurant. Earlier that day my dad told me, we would meet at a tiny restaurant close to my grandparents’ place but after 10, 15, 20 minutes of a drive, I got a little bit nervous/anxious (and hungry…).

After a while my grandpa slowed down and I saw my dad standing outside the restaurant. Now if you know my dad, you know that he will NEVER wait outside a restaurant. Usually because he is late, but also because, ‘why wait outside, when you can sit inside and relax?’ I hugged him happily and he whispered, ‘Happy birthday, let’s go in’. My dad pushed me through the first set of doors, my grandparents close behind us and then my dad opened the second set of doors while having his hand on my shoulder. – This memory is still very vivid to me, as if it happened yesterday, I tear up, as I write this, just because the sheer thought of this, makes me incredibly happy.

I was greeted by about 100 people laughing and applauding and smiling and the youngest of the bunch were holding individual letters in their hands, reading ‘Happy 18th birthday J’. I did not expect this, at all (now it also made sense that my grandparents seemed a bit tense and excited for the party). As I saw the greeting and smiling and happy faces, I turned around and wanted to run out of the restaurant, but my dad (still holding his hand on my shoulder) didn’t let me out. My parents had planned this surprise party for weeks and weeks, not once mentioning something to me. They rang up my friends and extended family and every single one kept the secret. Even my older brother, who every now and then gets very chatty didn’t mention one single thing to me.

‘Emotional’ wouldn’t even come close to what I felt when I stood in front of the crowd. I was overwhelmed, flabbergasted, excited and happy and most of all speechless. My mom smiled from ear to ear and she did tear up too and so did my dad (although he won’t admit that). They were so thankful that the secret was kept and just genuinely happy that I had no clue as to what to expect.

I later asked my friend Corona why she didn’t tell me and she said, that it was hard to keep the secret but she was reminded about 400 times (by my brother) not to mention it, so she kept quiet.

Thinking back on this day still makes me very happy and also makes me feel veroy loved, it’s one of these moments. You know, these moments, when you look back on your life and you realize that everything is perfect just the way it is.

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