My sweetie, known here as Raven on account of her once-Rave-black hair (now shot through with grey) and her preference for keeping an extremely low online profile turned 34 on Monday. For a variety of reasons, including the aformentioned greying hair, she is not thrilled that she is, as she put it more than once over the days running up to the anniversary, "getting old". (That I am now looking "forward" to turning 53 in February means any sympathy I have for her chronowoes is pretty pro forma.
Anyway, after something like 6 years of working a moveable shift, never knowing more than two weeks in advance what hours, or even what days, I would have to make my way to the airport, I have now begun working a regular shift. Monday through Thursday, 14:00 hours to whenever they send me home — usually between midning and 02:00. Long hours, yes, but regular, four days on, three off.
However, that means that this year, I was working on Raven's birthday, so we agreed to celebrate as we celebrate just about everything: with food, and on Sunday, the day before her actual birthday.
And more, she was willing to wait until after my championship soccer game. (See my previous post, Weeeeee Are the Champions, My Friends ...) After all, I had officially given her her birthday present a couple of weeks ago, when we went to see The Phantom of the Opera at the National Arts Centre. (I think quite highly of Jesus Christ Super-Star, but of the Phantom, all I really have to say is that the music didn't move me, but the sets were really nicely done.)
Now the truth is, we're not actually very big on rituals, Raven and I. We've been together for more than 7 years now, but have never married and, in fact, we both forgot about our anniversary this year. It was a week or so after the event that I realized it and brought it to her attention.
But that doesn't mean that rituals don't have some importance, even to people like us.
After I returned, cold but triumphant, from the pitch, I showered and then came downstairs, to where Raven had called me. She had found a restaurant she wanted to try and wanted to make sure I would be open to the menu, featuring food from one of China's southern, non-Han, provinces. The menu looked fine to me, the web said the restaurant closed at 10:00 PM (restaurant closing times are a Big Deal in Ottawa, in case you're wondering; trying to find trying to find food that isn't pizza, Chinese or Vietnamese after 9:00 is difficult at the best of times. Sunday nights, nearly impossible), so we headed out into the rain to the Virus Car I'd booked for three hours.
I should have known we were in for trouble when Raven's GPS lead us on a wild goose chase, costing us probably 10 minutes before we found our destination. And when we did, at around 9:05, we found out the interwebs had *gasp* lied to us. Not only did Yunan Fusion close at 9:00 PM on Sunday nights, it closes at 9:00 PM every night.
Raven was already frustrated by the wonky GPS directions, and we reached our second choice and found that it too was closed.
By this point, Raven was right pissed. And a pissed Raven is a scary Raven, make no mistake. I tried to jolly her out of her funk, but — with considerable restraint — she asked me to just let her vent for a little while, as I drove us back to our own neighbourhood and my favourite (yes, mine; Raven says they all taste pretty much the same to her) Vietnamese restaurant, a mere four blocks from home.
Her mood did improve over dinner (as it always does; her mood droops badly when she's hungry), but she was still dealing with a lot of disappointment as to how her not-quite birthday had gone.
And so, I decided that I wasn't going to wait for the card I had intended to get her and went to my office, where I had secreted a small box, in which lay a pendant I had picked out for her a few days before.
Nothing really expensive (of course nothing really expensive on my barely-more than minimum wage salary), and far less than the theatre tickets had cost, but it was a necklace whose stone had caught my eye and hoovered another 55 bucks from my wallet.
(A confession: Though when I bought the pendant last week I did so with her birthday in mind, between the Phantom, a couple of dinners out, and the fact that I hadn't found a card for her, I had been having second thoughts and was pondering saving it for a Christmas present. But her downcast demeanour put an end to that selfish fantasy.)
There really isn't much more to the story. I left her sitting on our bed, and came back with a small box.
"I was saving this for when I found a card for you," I said, "but you seemed so down I thought I should give this to you now."
And reader, face lit up story-book fashion: she beamed.
Yes, she liked the pendant, but it wasn't the gift that so lifted her spirits, it was the fact of the gift. That I had made the effort to shop for her (she knows I hate to shop), the fact that the gift was strictly for her, and not (as with food and theatre) for us.
And that's it, really. Nothing earth-shaking, but a good reminder to someone like me that people need tangible reminders, from time to time, that they are loved.
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