Friday, April 15, 2016

Finally, I can Breathe Again

Last weekend I had the total pleasure of sharing in the surprise birthday celebration that I planned for Matt and 23 of his relatives and friends.

Before I go any further talking about this particular soiree, it will help to understand the title of this post if I back up to about 3 months ago when this party first started taking shape. As a manner of comparison, for my 40th birthday all I asked was to be let in on the day and time I had to be wherever I was being taken. Matt obliged me that information but I knew nothing else.

He never asked for the same.

And I knew what I wanted to do for him as the words…

“I don’t know what to do for your birthday, you have to help me, tell me what you want.”

…came out of my mouth back in early 2016. Because this year he’d be turning 40. This year was a huge milestone birthday. And I knew just how he was feeling about hitting that magic number.

In one word, freaked.

I remember when I was getting closer to the big four-oh. In the months leading up to my birthday I swear to you I was convinced I would just up and croak before I ever got there. Now I know everyone says ‘forty is the new twenty’ or whatever other platitude they like hearing themselves say out loud, but to me it was hard to imagine myself getting older.

Yes, despite the graying eyelashes, sagging boobs, slowing metabolism, I somehow managed to delude myself that I was still in my twenties or something. So when Matt admitted that he was kind of losing it over the upcoming day, I was just glad the party planning was already set in stone.

Because nothing makes a person feel younger than getting together in a room, filled with people they love, to laugh, cheer, eat, drink, and do all that ‘be merry’ stuff that makes life the best thing ever.

I chose to surprise him with renting a suite at Chase Field, on opening weekend, then filling it with 12 of his good friends, and get his dad and step-mom in from California, and get family in from Tucson, and get his mom in from Mississippi, and somehow manage to convince his sister and her 3 boys to make the trek out here from Boston.

And by some miracle of chance, all 23 of us (plus the handful of people at his office who also knew what was going on) managed to keep the layered secret since I first asked people to express their level of interest in buying their ticket to the game, and celebrating Matt, back on January 5.

Can I just for one second take a minute to acknowledge just how difficult it is to keep that much awesomeness inside your body? Especially considering:

  • I’ve never kept secrets from Matt in the 17ish years we’ve known each other.
  • He’s usually the first person I see at the end of the work day and I like recounting my day with him.
  • I work at home, alone, so I like to yammer on for a while after he gets home.
  • I just don’t lie. Ever. To anyone. Not anymore. I mean, when I was a kid, sure, but as an adult that seems pointless.

Boy was I ever wrong! The good news is I only had to tell one lie during all of this scheming and plotting. Amazing to say the least.

So are you ready to relive the whole experience along with me? Here’s how the timeline went…

January: Who’s in?
January: Holy crap, everyone is in?
January: Start thinking about where to house people.

February: Collect money from everyone – PayPal, shove cash in my pocket at a happy hour, stop by after work and drop cash just moments before Matt gets home (there was a lot of that kind of stuff).
February: Pay the first half of the suite rental fee / repeatedly hunt down the ticket rep.
February: Start the process of our home’s refi (meaning we shouldn’t put new, expensive purchases on our credit card and obviously the extra added challenge I really needed during party central planning stages).
February: Start formulating how I/we would get Matt to the ballpark. Deposit the last of the money from outside sources. Pay a huge chunk of the credit card bill & pray it won’t be an issue for the refi.

March: Email Matt’s boss/our loan officer to fill her in on the situation (AKA: don’t ask Matt about huge charges on the card, ask me!)
March: Final payment to suite rental. A small lull in party stuff ensues.
March: Close on the refi and (because Matt doesn’t know we will have people sleeping here), start doing construction again all around the house. Silently curse at my ladder every time I walk by it.
March: See about 100 new gray hairs starting to sprout while I try to maintain my composure because despite all the running to pick up/drop off, plan, email, etc. back and forth on party business, I still have to work every day, clean the house, do the life stuff I always do like there’s nothing else going on. Develop twitch over left eye.
March: Watch as my frayed nerve endings start jumping out of my body and realize there’s nothing I can do about it. Sweep dead nerve endings under area rug to be dealt with in April.

April: Finally! But wait, my in-laws, I hear, have plans and can’t house family. I start texting and making calls. Nobody responds in the ten seconds I expect them to respond in. Sheesh, how rude!
April: Oh shit, where will my SIL stay if my in-laws aren’t free? Agita takes hold.
April: Calls back and forth with my MIL – we can split the cost for a hotel stay. Begin researching hotels with a shuttle from the airport and/or are walking distance to Chase or our house.
April: There are zero hotels available in greater Phoenix. This is high season. You can stay in Scottsdale for $400 a night, but only 4 of you, not 5.
April: FIL & StepMIL save the day, the plans they had are altered, all 4 of the Boston fam can stay at the RV, plus I don’t have to lie about where I’m going at 10PM on a Thursday night because they have a vehicle big enough to pick up SIL and the kids at the airport.
April: I manage to exhale just a bit while I start doing the happy dance.
April: I tell Matt my mom is also coming up for the weekend and have to lie when he questions why – the one lie!
April: Coordinate with my sister and mom to be the drivers to the ballpark and arrive for early set up.
April: Consider hugging my friends and not letting go when they agree to put up my MIL for the night before the party as well as agree to be the carpool loading station for the bulk of the group.

April 6: Create an actual flowchart for the timeline of Friday’s events because I’m afraid of forgetting some small detail that will throw off the entire thing and cause my already thinning skull to implode.

April 4-7: Finish the small construction projects that need done for safety when family is in town, work, dry run to the ballpark so I don’t get lost, ensure Boston family is in safe and sound. Drop tickets for friends who won’t be able to meet up with the carpool caravan. Drool on myself and pass out on the sofa at 9PM just about every night.

8:20AM Friday April 8: Matt leaves the house late for work, like really late, for the first time maybe in his life. The moment the garage door closes I fly through a shower because I need to get to Sky Harbor to pick up my MIL, which happens with no drama but lots of traffic. We get breakfast then head to the mall to waste some time and catch up (this was really nice, I don’t always get time with my MIL because she lives pretty far away). My mom arrives at our house to drop some stuff. MIL and I head over to meet mom (praying Matt doesn’t come home for lunch or something). Mom and MIL take off for the afternoon. I haul ass up to the Musical Instrument Museum to drop tickets and a parking pass to FIL, StepMIL, SIL & nephews. I haul ass back home so I can clean before the rest of the Tucson family arrives for our “normal weekend” routine.

4:18PM April 8: I sit down on the couch with a snack, finish it, and go to get up to put my plate in the sink when I realize my legs will literally not move. Sit staring at the wall for about ten minutes while my brain does a hard reboot. Cannot compute. System failure. Switching to back up brain for next 24 hours. Running at 11% capacity.

5:00 – 5:15 April 8: Pray my mom remembers how to get to friend’s house to drop MIL, get text from Matt – he’ll be out 15 minutes early! Text friend to make sure my mom is on the way back.

5:22 April 8: Stare out front window praying the mom mobile rounds the corner before Matt. She does! We get bags inside approximately 4 minutes before Matt rolls into the driveway. Wendy & BIL roll in about 6:00. Drinks and a fun evening ensue.

Until Saturday mid-afternoon our weekend contained nothing out of the ordinary – Matt made a couple runs to Harbor Freight to do a project that morning, the family got showered and ready, and when Matt booted the compressor they all took off to go meet the crew of peeps at our friend’s place.

Then it was just the two of us.

And I knew he was going to want to lie down for an afternoon nap so I had to tell him something.

“Do you love me?”

“Of course.”

“Do you trust me?”

“Uh, yeah, sure.”

“Okay, then you have 15 minutes to finish this project before you have to be in the shower.”

“I knew it! I knew something must be happening this weekend!”

And at 3:06PM on April 9 we were on our way to Chase Field. I took a weird route to throw him off. But it’s impossible to hide a ballpark. He started getting really excited. He knew there would be at least 3 people at the game because they left our house early.

I text Wendy to tell her we arrived.

We head to suite level and he about loses it because he never sat in a suite at a ballgame before. I text Wendy that we’re a few minutes out.

We arrive at Suite 5 and I tap then he enters the room…

Countless phones are up recording his reaction as 22 amazing people yell SURPRISE!!!!!

And let me tell you something right now. All the stress, panic, exposed nerve endings of the last couple months? TOTALLY worth it at the sight of his face when he scanned the crowd and discovered just who was there to celebrate him!

As the day wore on (into the wee hours of the morning with the after party back at our place of course) small bits and pieces of the planning and scheming were revealed but mostly it was a time where Matt could be with so many people he loves. People he doesn’t get to see all that often.

My work was done. He was pretty much over the moon. And as far as I’m concerned, that sounds so much more fun than being over the hill.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.


Launna said...

Oh my gosh Jenn, this made me cry... how incredibly sweet... it must have been amazing to see his face... this was most certainly one of the best presents ever and so worth all that grey hair...(joke) xox

#1Nana said...

Jenn, you are awesome! It's a surprise that he and his family will remember forever. What a great way to celebrate a milestone birthday. Good job!

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Hey thanks ladies! He was really a happy guy that day and I hope the memories help that happiness to last him a lifetime :-) xo