And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.
- Abraham Lincoln
I don't believe in birthdays. I believe in birthweeks.
This past week I turned 27. Starting Sunday I had a Happy Birthday! cupcake from Crumbs bakery every day (candle and song and all 850 calories!) to celebrate. Maybe that's the only child in me. Maybe it's because I'm young. But why not go overboard on celebrating your birth? For better or for worse, we need to remember that we're lucky to have made it through another year.
I feel especially lucky that I made it through another with Nick.
Unbelievably, we've been together for two years! And he knows exactly how to provoke the independent Aries in me: "I know you," he often coaxes me. "I know what you like," or "I know what you're going to say."
Nick said it when we went to New Orleans last spring. Against my frugal judgment, he insisted on renting a car. "We don't need to leave the French Quarter to have fun," I argued. He rented one anyways, without telling me. He was right to do so. After a day of drinking on Bourbon Street, a day of antiquing on Royale Street, and a day of museum musings near Jackson Square, we spent two days zigzagging across the Mississippi River, in a car, to visit all the beautiful plantations.
He said it again in autumn when we went for a day drive up to Lake George. We were supposed to come back to the city that night. Instead he ended up surprising me by renting a cheap motel right on the water so that we could eat pizza, play cards, and listen to the waves crash on our shore all night.
A fine layer of snow had just fallen in Long Island in February. We were staying at his parents' house alone for the weekend. "Lets go for a drive," he said late one night. So I bundled and got in the car. He stopped at the beach down the road and turned off the car. He opened the trunk and pulled out newspaper, wood, kerosene, and lots of matches. Against all my whining ("it's too cold," "it's too dark"), we had a bonfire under a clear, moonless sky.
Each time my scowl flipped into a smile, he jokingly badgered: "See, I know you." And I stubbornly retorted, "You don't know me."
Again, Nick did pretty well for my birthday this year.
On Thursday he decorated his apartment with streamers and balloons, took me to one of my favorite restaurants (Le Bernardin) for lunch, to a pet store so I could gawk at puppies and kittens, and then a legendary jazz nook for champagne.
And he got me three birthday cards (I'm a woman of words, like my mother): one to make me laugh, one for Mooshu (even though he's highly allergic to, and doesn't particularly like, cats), and one to make me cry.
"You're moving through another year, ferocious as a wildcat, agile as a ouistiti, stubborn as a mule. Being with you is a beautiful adventure."
At the end of the night, we curled up on the couch together in our comfy clothes to watch a movie.
"Did I do good?" Nick asked.
I kissed him on the cheek. "Yea," I replied. "You know me."
Sarah T. Schwab is a Sunday OBSERVER contributor and Fredonia State graduate. Send comments to
or view her Web site at www.SarahTSchwab.com