The Virus Diary: A Pandemic Birthday
There have been and ARE a lot of creative ways to celebrate. When faced with the adversity, we can often come up with wonderful ideas. I wouldn't say this was a "wonderful" birthday, but it was unique with memorable moments.
This year my birthday feel on a Sunday, so I had the full weekend to "celebrate." So here in all its thrilling glory is what this 54 year old did...
As usual, Friday started off with a trip to Shoprite. As is typical, the weather was not great. It doesn't rain EVERY Friday morning, but it DOES more often than not. It wasn't raining when I got to the store, but it had been beforehand, so I didn't get out for the early morning walk. (For the most part, if I don't get out there first thing, it's either NOT going to happen or it's not going to be a long one.) The store was less crowded; even the line getting in seemed shorter than usual. It DID take me longer as I debated over meats (the cost of ground beef has certainly gone up) and was happy to see lamb shanks available. (Birthday dinner! Hubby won't eat it, but son will, so there you go. Throw it in a slow cooker and happy birthday to me!) Although there was no line to check out, packing up my groceries as I check out is a time consuming task (and one that I don't like because I just don't go as fast as I'd like.)
I'd ordered a birthday cake from my favorite vegan bakery (ok, it's the only one I know) and arranged to pick it up in the late afternoon. However, they were predicting heavy rain/storms for the afternoon so when a notification popped up that it was ready that morning, I decided to head out at lunch. The bakery is close to my office and not that close to home. It was the first time I had been Route 3 since mid-March. I had forgotten about the construction on the ramp where I get on; although this was not a problem mid-day when I start my daily commute again...well, at least they've gotten quite a lot done in the past few months. (And I'll bet it's been easily with less traffic.) Being midday AND with most people still working from home, the approximately 10 mile drive did not take long at all (how I hope it stays like that, but I'm not holding my breath.) Getting the cake was a snap. It took me longer to get my phone to cooperate and call the store so that they could bring it out than it did for them to actually bring the box to my car. (Thank you ladies...amazing job as usual.)
On my way home, I stopped at the Fresh Grocer. Owned by the same corporation as ShopRite, their weekly sale runs from Friday-Thursday while my ShopRite has sales from Sunday-Saturday. Although I had done my weekly shopping that morning, there were some items that were on sale that I wanted to get before my next trek to ShopRite. (Have to work the sales!) I call the Fresh Grocer "ShopRite Lite." (This especially true of the cleaning aisle which is still mostly empty and looks like what ShopRite's same aisle looked like a month ago.) The one near me is rarely busy. That was not the case midday Friday. Note to self: don't go grocery shopping during lunch hour. (I should have already known that right?) Although I only picked up a few things, it took much longer than I would have liked, but at least I wasn't dealing with the bad weather that we would have later in the day.
Saturday had been designated as family birthday celebration day. My father's birthday falls four days after mine, so the three of us headed south to try and have a socially distant birthday lunch. Because we were planning on lunch (purchased from Jersey Mikes), we left the house just after 10. I would NEVER do this on a weekend, especially a warm weather one. Although traffic was not what it would have been if this had been a typical June Saturday, we did hit some pockets of bumper to bumper on the GSP but mostly on Route 35 South. (The 6 mile drive from Jersey Mikes to my parents' home took a good 25 minutes. When we headed home later in the day, traffic was still bumper to bumper for a good three miles on Route 35 South. Summer may not have officially arrived, but summer traffic most definitely has!)
We had lunch outside and my son did some "chores" for my parents (for which he was well compensated). It got too hot (we needed a bay breeze) so we did have to move inside. We stayed on the back porch where the windows were open and that was where we had our birthday cake. (I forgot the candle...although that may be for the best in light of things.) When we left I DID give both my parents a modified hug (where you turn your face away). Was it right? Was it wrong? It felt necessary and I tried to be as responsible as I could be.
My actual birthday brought some lovely surprises. In a pandemic, social media greetings mean more now than ever! Each and every message made me smile. So if you are a friend and are reading this...thank you! Another special memory will be the special birthday prayer I got at "virch" (virtual church; get it? Not my term, though I wish I COULD claim it!) In addition to my home church (which provides pre-recorded services on Sunday mornings), I have been zooming with another local church. (One that my dad belonged to when he lived up here; and now attends again via zoom.) They have a quiet early service that I enjoy and it is interactive. Even though I am not a member, yesterday, the minister, during announcements asked me to unmute myself for a question...when is my birthday? I admitted that it was today and was given a special blessing, which really meant a lot to me. (It meant even more that my father actually messaged the church to let the know!)
Later in the day, our new neighbors stood in front of our house with a happy birthday sign. (One that I hope they are going to reuse next week for their daughter's 1st birthday!) It was so sweet and so appreciated. Of course they had to wait for the right time, since my son and I ran off to Home Depot. (Yes, Home Depot on a SUNDAY!) He has become quite the gardener and we were in need of a dozen lavender plants. Where else are you going to go on a Sunday? It actually wasn't that bad. The parking lot may have been crazy, but we were never in the store proper and the whole process took less than 15 minutes, so...
Now, on this day AFTER my birthday (and AFTER my birthday weekend), I am grateful for all the blessings that I have received. It may have been an unusual birthday, but more important it was unforgettable. It was full of love and good wishes; which is what we all need, now more than ever.