Chw and I went out of town for the weekend. We stayed in a beautiful hotel, our bed was the closest thing to a cloud I’ve ever slept on, we ate delicious food, went to a super fun event, the weather was better than it’s been as of late–all in all, it was perfection… This morning before we checked out, we popped into the hotel restaurant for some breakfast. Initially, we thought we were the only patrons until a booming voice came from around a corner as we passed, “yeah, I’m here because it’s my birthday!” He was seated at a table alone, but we soon noticed he was wearing Bluetooth headphones.
For the majority of our breakfast, we were treated to the very loud, one-sided conversations of this guy phoning person after person to tell them it was his birthday. It was hilarious. To be honest we ranged from annoyance (I’m not a fan of people talking on the phone in public) to feeling sorry for him, spending his birthday alone, and having to be the one to call others to let them know. It all seemed so sad. However, as I continued eating my egg, chorizo, and avocado burrito the narrative in my head began to shift.
Why was it sad?
Was he lonely? it definitely seemed like it, especially once he had exhausted his contact list and called over the server to tell her it was his birthday, ask her if her kids were out of school for break yet, and tell her what he wanted to do to celebrate his birthday in this city.
Even so, who am I to project shame on someone for spending their birthday alone, or calling people to tell them it’s their birthday?
I am no one.
I’ve had my fair share of wonderful, fun, full birthdays, and I’ve had a few lonely ones too. Birthdays are hard and this guy was owning his like a beast. I am an advocate of birthdays and by the time we signed our tab, grabbed our bags, and began to walk out, this guy had moved to hero status. I have no idea whether the prospect of his day was a sad bummer or an independent adventure. The one thing I had matured enough to realize is this guy was NOT ashamed to let people know it was his special day! He was not ashamed to be celebrating the day alone.
There is something really powerful about setting aside our own perceptions and projections to see the situation of another person simply as it is… it’s not always easy to do, and clearly, I am not perfect at it. Happy birthday to this guy out there exploring an Ohio city in the sleeting rain and snow… And yes, as we did walk out I paused, looked at him, and wished him a happy birthday. He was so happy, his smile beaming from ear to ear.
From a few feet ahead of me, Chw said “I knew you were going to do that!” and that made me happy too…