About two weeks ago, DJ posted a note on my Facebook wall that began,
SJ, DON’T READ THIS!
So I didn’t.
For the next several days, packages arrived in the mail or DJ came home from work with envelopes. All marked for my upcoming birthday. I couldn’t imagine what he’d asked people to send me. I felt a twinge or two of anxiety. What if I didn’t like it? What if he was embarrassingly, tragically wrong about what I like?
(Never mind that this particular birthday marks a milestone — I’ve officially known DJ for half my life. The man ought to know his stuff by now.)
My birthday is today. I was finally able to read that top-secret post on my wall:
SJ has a birthday coming up January 25. One of the things that she likes doing is collecting interesting-looking rocks.
I would love it if she got lots of cool rocks for her birthday. If you’re interested, could you send one with a little note about where it’s from?
The punchline, of course, is that I received dozens of pebbles in the mail and called my best friend to wail, “But when I said I wanted a rock, I meant a diamond!”
When it came time to open my presents, I put down the book I’m reading (I’m not joking)…
… and tore into all those mysterious packages to see what people sent me.
The rocks are lovely. But even better were the notes that my friends included with them. “The stripey rock is from Petra, Jordan, which is sandstone, and well worthy of being a tourist trap!” “In case you are wondering, I found your birthday rock right where the wallet was lying.” “This is sea glass from Cuba.” “This type of rock can be found EVERYWHERE in the deserts here… one even found a way into my puppy’s tummy late last years and cost us a small fortune!”
Clockwise from top:
*A collection of quartz, obsidian, and assorted petrocoolness (sure, it’s a technical term) from the JP family in Michigan.
*My kids’ gifts: a coloring book, a bag of amber-gold glass beads, and a small cat figurine from Bookgirl, Sparkler, Gamerboy, respectively. The fourth gift, from Ranger, was in the freezer at the time the photo was taken. He got me an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen, and thought it was very important that I have an appropriately numbered candle:
I’m still a little startled that I’m 40. When you’re 20, you never think you’ll ever be as old as 40.
Anyway, moving on around the board…
*A small box of distant treasures from Israel and Jordan, from L & S
*An ordinary gray rock — accompanied by vignettes of the friends and neighbors one makes simply by waving and smiling at people on a daily walk. From OG
*Cuban sea glass, one of which is made into a runelike necklace by my very gifted niece, CR.
Want one? Contact me and I’ll put you in contact with her.
*Can you read the note next to these gleaming golden rocks? They aren’t rocks. They’re chocolate. My friend JR always does things up with pizzazz, and it almost always involves food. She’s one of the friends who broadened my horizons whether I wanted to or not.
*My brother sent me a collection of rocks that he, his stepson, and their friend stumbled upon during a kayaking trip through a swamp. I don’t have any other rocks that fit in that category.
*Before I opened this one from W.E., DJ said, “He has a good heart, anyway.” I was expecting, I don’t know, a hunk of concrete. Instead it was this rock from a beach in Delaware. You have a very shiny heart too, WE.
Two more rocks that I didn’t have at hand when I made my board are these two from the Very Very South. The rock on the left is one that TG picked up from the Rio Grande and mailed to me. Not even for my birthday, just because she knew I’d love it. The pink and black one on the right came from LC’s Arizona desert home. She added a bit of detail about their origins, which I’m somewhat familiar with because I’m reading a book on, well, rocks.
Thank you to my friends and family who made my birthday special. I received other gifts too, all of them showing that people really do know me and like me.
All the gold stars to DJ, who thought up such an offbeat and pleasing idea for my birthday.
And thank you especially to those who took the time to send me rocks. I was beyond thrilled. What I held in my hands–and I love how rocks feel in my hands–was a physical embodiment of the cliche, “It’s the thought that counts.” All these rocks had some kind of significance to the people who sent them. Small, everyday, significance of ordinary lives. My rocks feel alive with human connection.
I had a happy birthday.
yes, I’m going to say it