Since my experience last week and subsequent post on Saturday I’ve been thinking of a friend I met while working at my first publishing gig. Often on Fridays a group of us would go to a local spot for happy hour and I can vividly remember one day when this guy who was very definitely in my circle of friends explained his birthday ‘rules.’ He was fastidious about remembering everyone’s birthday – often he’d be the first person to wish you Happy Birthday as you came into the office or with an early morning phone call. He was just that sort of sweet, charming fella.
On his birthday, I learned, if you didn’t send your greetings during those sacred 24 birthday hours you were cut off from his friendship for the next year. So, if your card didn’t arrive, call was late or you missed the window for sending a telegram… you were cut off. No exceptions. No excuses. No do-overs.
I can remember being a little off-put and considering that this regimented birthday rule was quite high maintenance and frankly egotistical. Who cut their friends off for forgetting their birthday. Bah!
So, here I am eighteen years from that happy hour – wiser and more self-aware and I applaud him. I applaud a person who can clearly define the boundaries they are willing to work within. He articulated his expectations, he lived up to his own standard and felt his friends owed him that same courtesy in kind.
Today I stand amused at how I felt about this philosophy all those years ago and how that stands in opposition to how I feel about it now. The wiser, more mature, more aware version of my self agrees, whole heartedly. If you love me, if I matter then on my birthday you’ll drop a note, place a call, send a text, write on my wall. It’s not about needing a grand gesture, it’s about saying I matter enough to reach out for no reason other than to send some good wishes my way. It’s another measure of my merit in your life – which is neither good nor bad – it simply exists. And that existence allows me to pour time and effort into the mutually beneficial relationships I covet and to let go of the lacking connections I might consider chasing.