On Saturday, I turned 29.
I wanted to boycott my birthday this year. I have a lot of my mind. You wouldn’t guess that. My Instagram and FB page make my life seem fun and easy. It’s not. Nobody’s life ever is what it seems online – that’s why it’s so important to care about people offline.
That’s why I realized the best person to spend my 29th birthday with was a person who wouldn’t let me sulk in my own blahness – he’d yell at me until I smiled and laughed – and realized I was being ridiculous.
That’s why I spent it with my best friend, Ray, who is 86.
Except right as I went to hug him hello, I realized the last time I saw him was when I gave him my book & figured he’d read it eventually – like years from now – or something.
I was nervous for him to read the book because he’s IN THE BOOK and it’s never easy thinking about how people will react to them being on the pages of a book thousands of people (hopefully) will read.
But there he was, demanding me to sit down, and I figured great – it’s my 29th birthday and Ray is going to scream at me until I’m red in the face about writing a chapter on him.
“I have to tell you,” he begins, slowly and seriously.
“You read the book and…” I try to talk before he has the chance to say anything else.
“You should be very proud of yourself. I can’t remember the last time I read something so…so….honest, raw, hilarious. You truly cut yourself open and let everyone see who you really are and what you are about. It’s scary to do that. I laughed the whole way through and I would not lie to you, you know that.”
I checked my pulse. My heart was racing and my body was in shock. I wondered if age 29 was too young to have a heart attack. I wondered if Ray would laugh at me If I fainted. Who am I kidding? He probably would.
“But how could you relate to a book about my life and being a bridesmaid?” I shot back, trying to downplay the greatest compliment I’ve ever had someone tell me.
“It’s not a book about that,” he said. “It’s a book about being human and everyone can relate to that.”
I’ve been going through a lot lately. You wouldn’t know, but I have. Yet there I was, on my 29th birthday, hearing a man who is 86 saying he laughed, cried and held onto the lessons in my book more than anything he can remember reading. And he meant it – because if you know Ray, you know he doesn’t have the ability to lie.
“Well, what about the chapter on you?” I asked. “Are you mad at me for writing about you?”
“Mad?” He replied. “No. I had no idea I made such a difference in your life.”
Perhaps most people in our lives don’t know until we tell them or we write a chapter about them and have thousands of people (hopefully) read it.
Anyway, this year I learned the best gift a person can give you isn’t a physical gift like a new purse or pair of shoes – it’s simple simple like a hug, a letter, or a compliment from a person who reminds you to be proud of an accomplishment you haven’t taken the time to acknowledge.
The 29-year-old version of Jen Glantz