As planned, we celebrated Matt’s birthday yesterday with much fanfare and made him feel at home. There were a dozen friends here who treated him royally. By the end of the afternoon, we were racing in the pool, reading magazines in the shade and truly enjoying the warm weather and great company. I lost the swimming race — which I’ll happily blame on my bikini — and managed to lose my verve to accomplish anything else.
More than once, I’ve been in a foreign country for a birthday or holiday. The Roca family threw me a quinceanera when I lived in Mexico; I’ll always be thankful for their kindness and how they went so far as to buy me a gold ring — the gift they gave their own daughters on their 15th birthdays. I think I was the only white girl in town to get such a fiesta. It was a particularly hard birthday because I was painfully homesick. I wasn’t supposed to see my family for the year, but thankfully the swim team I was competing with had a meet in El Paso, Texas the week before. My parents went rogue and drove with my brother to the border. We spent the weekend together at the meet, with my team and new high school friends and catching up as quickly as we could.