Since Adrienne and I started dating back in 2010, my understanding and expectations for what birthday celebrations should be like has completely changed. Generally speaking, the concept has remained the same, but there are subtle details that, while totally normal now, were fairly new experiences for me back then.
You see, Adrienne and I had only been dating for a couple of months when her 21st birthday rolled around. It fell on a Monday, and she invited me to her house for a celebratory birthday dinner with the rest of the family. I showed up, dressed to the nines in a Kentucky t-shirt (big shock), while Adrienne had on a beautiful little dress and scarf.
I commented to her, "Why didn't you tell me to dress nicer? I thought we were just eating at your house. I didn't think it was a big deal."
She said, "You look fine, but it's my birthday. It's a big deal."
It was the first of many lessons I would (and continue to) learn.
It isn't like birthdays were meaningless in the Edwards household...They weren't, and aren't. They were a big deal when I was a kid, but birthday parties were relatively small, and I don't even remember having one past the 6th grade. As my sister and I got older, they got even smaller...A family meal either at home or at the local Mexican place. Cracker Barrel if it was a "big" birthday. We'd take 5 minutes to open cards and blow out candles on what may or may not be a cake, and that'd be that. Wasn't much more than a relatively special day for us.
My idea of what a birthday looks like, however, was put on its head when Adrienne got hold of me.
There's no such thing as a birth"day." No, Adrienne's birthday celebration begins on October 11th...The beginning of what she refers to as "birthday week." Any privileges allowable to an individual on their actual birthday (picking meals, having chores done for them, having someone else make a special trip to get another piece of pizza for them even though they have already finished eating and have laid on the couch to relax, etc.) all apply around the clock during "birthday week." I was totally unaware of such a concept until I met Adrienne.
Anytime the clock reads the time of your birthday, others in the room are expected and required to wish you a happy birthday, even if it's 7 months before or after your actual birthday. The first time this one happened, Adrienne and I were sitting watching TV in like January when Adrienne said, "Hey, it's my birthday." I replied, "What're you talking about?" She said, "It's 10:18...It's my birthday." I said, "Oh, I get it. That's funny." She, as serious as possible, said, "You're supposed to say 'happy birthday.'" I looked at her and chuckled. She didn't. I said, "Happy birthday." She nodded approval and we moved on with our lives.
While we usually got the option to choose where or what we ate for dinner on our birthday when I was growing up, it wasn't quite the same. With the Turners, especially Adrienne, you not only get to choose the entree, but you get to choose the sides, what drinks will be served, and what type of cake is to be made to accompany said meal. I was always satisfied with a scoop or two of ice cream, or maybe a batch of brownies. Now, it's angel food cake, or red velvet, or chocolate, or cobbler...Whatever mood happens to strike.
I've learned a thing or two the last three years. Last year I made the mistake of assuming the birthday cake Adrienne's mom would make a few days later would suffice when, at about 5:00 PM ON ADRIENNE'S BIRTHDAY she says, "What kind of cake are you making me?"
I went to Kroger almost immediately.
I still don't get all that worked up about MY birthday, but I love seeing how Adrienne gets every single ounce of celebration she can out of hers. It's like a microcosm of the incredibly strong, focused, and unapologetically expectant person she is. She knows what she wants, expects you to know, and if you don't, she doesn't hesitate to tell you. I love that about her, even when it gets on my nerves.
The last three years have taken me on the most incredible, fun, unexpected, high-flying ride I could have ever imagined, and it is all because one unbelievably amazing person strolled into my life. Happy Birthday, Adrienne! I love you so much, I can't stand my life.