I proceeded to regale my father with tales of the flight, one of which included the conversation the lady who was sitting beside me had with me. You see, I had told her that I didn't mind whether I sat in the aisle seat or not, which afforded her husband the ability to stretch out his legs, and this made them happy. She noticed me reading a book entitled The Quest for Authenticity (Joseph the Dreamer's gift to me) and I explained to her about Hasidic sects and that this reflected the thought of one rabbi. She told me that her husband works in corporate psychology and she works in something similar for the federal government and that she uses a spiritual approach (although not organized religion) to reach her clients. We had a lovely conversation and she concluded, "You have such a warm, wonderful energy. It was a pleasure to sit beside you!" and wished me a happy birthday.
At this juncture in time, my father took me to ABT (the most exciting electronics and appliance store in the world) and we purchased a new laptop for me. Thus, yours truly is a delightfully happy child. Then, because I insisted I had to be carded on my birthday, my father took me to Binny's, which is the quintessential liquor store in Chicago.
I walked inside, chose a bottle of Late Harvest wine (naturally sweet- thanks for teaching me that, Golden-Haired Girl) and waited in line to pay. A man named Andy requested my ID. I gave it to him. He looked at it, did a mild double take, then stated, "Happy Birthday!" I giggled. The black man who was busy bagging my beverage looked at me and says, "You think we're all gonna start singing to you like they do in Chili's (a non-kosher eatery)?" I shook my head no. Andy waved my ID over his head and said, "Birthday girl!" to the manager, who scanned me into the system. And the black guy said, "I'm sure that's not your first drink, but enjoy it, girl," and I was happy.
But it gets better. I walked into my house only to find my family members eagerly anticipating my arrival. They had decorated the entire dining room to reflect this:
I was touched to find that Dolls had sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. You can see them featured prominently in this picture (the roses are from my family; the other bouquet is from Dolls!)
It gets better. After opening an extremely special gift from Grandma, I was informed that the whole family was going out to eat at Hy Life Bistro. This meant, of course, that your steak-addicted child would get to eat her favorite food. Fantastic! So we cleaned ourselves up (see Facebook: my brothers are ridiculously attractive and everyone knows Dustfinger's gorgeous) and headed off to the party.
Hy Life Bistro afforded me the opportunity to drink a Strawberry Daiquiri! And to discover that I like strawberry daiquiris. My brother Urchin described the beverage as "an alcoholic slurpee." Taran wasn't as impressed. All of them had fun telling me not to drink and drive (they can all drive; I can only drink. Thus my father dubbed me the 'Designated Drinker.')
My mother had taken the waiter aside and explained it was my birthday, so after our requisite steaks, soups, salads and sides, he brought out a lovely slice of cake for me:
However, the crowning glory of the birthday celebration appeared in the form of an utterly magnificent cake which my mother had designed herself and ordered from Zelda's. It was, of course, my favorite type: Black Forest Gateau. Some of you remember my magical Beauty and the Beast cake from my 18th birthday; well, this one was a contender for best cakes. It looked beautiful and tasted delicious:
And here you can see it upon its stand, resplendent in its place of honor:
Obviously the evening was interspliced with well-wishes, phone calls, Facebook wall posts and other lovely comments. As far as I was concerned, however, the most wonderful part of my birthday was getting to spend it in Chicago with my family. Thank you so much to Mommy, Daddy, Dustfinger, Urchin and Taran nee Brizingr for the utterly fantastic day! I love all of you guys.