Today is Elena's 30th birthday! Elena is this kind of person who values very much this sort of thing. In Tres Cantos, where she comes from, this is the precise day of the fiestas, where the city has a big fair in the nearby fields in a ridiculously huge amusement park built for the occasion, with state of the art rides and all sorts of mind-blowing, guts-revolving animations in an all-night round typical Spanish celebration. I mean, people give a big deal of the Oktoberfest here, but remove all the beer tents, you have Tres Cantos fiestas left. They also have the simultaneous concerts on football statium-size scenes playing, where her friends and now even her brother would perform. Since her childhood, it has been a ritual to organize a big gathering of dear people at a home party and then go down to the fiestas.
I, on the other hand, am the kind of person who can't care less about this sort of thing. Imagine being actually raised in this magical atmosphere that they usually sell to kids on TV, and getting to hang around with me, who can—surroundings helping—completely forget about the whole business.
Last year, in a conference on a boat trip in Russia, my poor Elena complained very much I had been completely oblivious to this sacred moment when, she was pointing out, even the people sharing the table with us—whom we had met just a few days ago when starting the cruise—had found out and saved their previous day chocolate ration to present her on her birthday. Friends that we knew, Mikhail and Alexander, presented her with a little wooden boat bearing the colours of Saint-Petersburg, now in our library. I, on the other hand, was in my conference mood which means a total disconnection from birthdays in particular. My arguments was: just look at the surroundings, the white nights, the river that doesn't stop mysteriously flowing deeper and deeper and us slowly getting dragged in its horizon. How can you make something else matter? Something that comes from the calendar? I'm not even aware days still exist anymore.
That was pretty lousy, and it's a debate we still have, what does matter and what should matter.
The year before, we were marrying, like, 5 days after. I was totally oblivious to the birthday. In my defence, all three previous years were free of "distractions" and we had magical days out in Madrid.
But thirty is thirty! I have to abide to the decimal system and recognize there is something there.
Although 22 of June is never a good date to do stuff, especially on a Wednesday, we get the afternoon off. She's now learning German in Munich for her morning class kindly organized by the Humboldt foundation, and she sure bought a birthday cake with too much chocolate to celebrate with her fellow students (I told you she's just crazy about this sort of things!) But the afternoon is ours.
We will go to the Olympiaturm and have an evening dinner gazing at the city, 360° (the tower is revolving). Time before that should be walking in the park itself, although I insisted for the Neue Pinakothek and will try to bring my case again.
Also, to make my overall point that the mere fact to be alive on one day makes it special, I prepared as a foreplay a short movie animation to remember all the 22 of June of these years which we have celebrated together, and the one we are about to delight with. It's not perfect as my drawing skill are limited (and it brings the ever recurring realization that I don't know how to write plain text with my bare hands anymore), but it makes the main statement obvious: that she was right. It takes nothing but a whisper of the heart to make what lays down before your eyes a great gift. Without this will of love and kindness, though, they don't get their special connection in a stream of special events. I hope putting things in perspective in this way, stealing a little bit from a few days before or after, I can make up for the lost birthdays! They turn out to be, like everything else, very important.
Happy Birthdays Elena!