Monday, August 31, 2009

It's Such A Perfect Day

Sit back and close your eyes. Now, try to imagine your best day. OK, Open your eyes again. OK! OK! Open your eyes! Awww, man this was a dumb way to start a post.

I'm just going to assume that you opened your eyes and I'll start again.

On Saturday, I had a perfect day. When I woke up, my back was killing me and it was raining. How's that for a good start?

After a bagel and iced-tea from my favorite bagel and iced-tea joint, I was picked up by Brian and Jason and we headed over to the Umass campus to do a little in-studio appearance at WMUA. It'd been a long time since I had been in the campus center concourse and I was happy to see that not much had really changed. There were some differences certainly but the general over-all feel of the place was the same. It was a dreamy stroll through my past as we made our way down the escalators and passed the orange and yellow sofas and mural paintings on the way to the WMUA studio.

We met Oliver and Beth who host the show and we all set ourselves up around the microphones with our headphones and acoustic guitars and ukulele and melodica and little keyboard and snare drum and cowbell. The studio was small and cozy and we spent the next couple of hours talking and playing music. I remarked, "I could do this all day".

You can download and listen to the show here: WMUA - Rub Wrongways for a limited time.

When we were finished, we strolled back to the parking garage and headed home, I asked Brian if he could drop me off in town so I could get some lunch, but he said he needed to get a high-hat from my house first and he would take me town later. That'll work out for me, I thought, I can grab an umbrella and a book.

As we pulled up to my house, I saw a number of cars in the driveway and lining the street. What the?!

Brian and Jason seemed nonplussed by the cars everywhere and very quietly walked up to the house with the equipment. It started to dawn on me what was happening. When I stepped inside, I could see some orange and blue balloons outside and also what looked like a giant white tent. I crept up the stairs and jumped out on the deck. The back yard was full of people who all yelled "surprise!". The back yard was completely transformed from when I had left it only two and half hours earlier. There were two tents, fifty chairs, tables of food, balloons, and kids running around.

I think my face was blushed as I walked down the stairs into the party. Max was crouching down hiding behind the deck snapping photos as I scanned across the tables of my friends. Then I saw my brother Norbert and his family, Darlene, Zane, and Ayla. Then I saw my parents and then Lesa's family. "Woah", I thought. This is a big party. People traveled. I looked back over the tables and saw my friend Ian and his family. I turned around and saw my friend Matt walking up the driveway. "Crazy", I can't believe people came all the way out here. I looked back at the tables, faces started to jump out at me. Thane, Alex, Jody, Rick, Tony, Shelly, Jason, Emily, Ken, Sarah, Gwen, Emily, Lauri, Karen, Debbie, Benjamin, Dennis, Lauren, Brian, Eliza, Dave, Kelsey, Max, Anya, Miles, Ian, Vicky, Aiden, Norbert, Darlene, Zane, Ayla, Cord, Elin, Ed, Betty, Carl, Judy, Chris, Matt, and Jason and Brian laughing behind me. And standing in the middle, beaming, was Lesa - who, I'm guessing, was breathing a huge sigh of relief that she managed to pull this off with me being 100% surprised.

I walked around from table to table saying hello to everyone. People started milling about. There were snacks and barbecuing (Lesa's family had transformed our garage into a full-on outdoor kitchen with three cooking stations going). There were coolers everywhere. Soon some more friends walked in like Ryan, Philip, Flora, Mark, David, Brad, Amanda, and Ashton. Well, Ashton didn't walk. He was carried. Clumsy baby.

I sat down at one of the tables and Brian stuck a laminated book in front of me. It turns out that he had contacted many people and asked them to write a page for me. Max then did a hilarious job of adding high-school yearbook type graphics to it. I read the whole thing in one sitting while around me people were working on the themed crossword that Brian and Karen had made.

Inside there was a giant bowl of personalized M&Ms. Half of them had my name and birth date on them, the other half said "uncomfortable". They came from Lauri Mac. There was also a giant plate of brownies that Debbie brought, cookies from Darlene, a cherry pie from my mom, and an amazing chocolate cake that Emily created. There were snacks and people everywhere.

Outside, there was a wonderful mix of music playing that Brian had made. So for the next few hours, I strolled around from person to person, catching up and joking around. I played with some kids, I ate some great barbecue (cooked by Carl and Chris) and marveled at all the work the Bezo family had done to clean up the yard and get everything organized.

When the eating was done, I lit a fire in the fire pit and sat there just letting everything sink in. Just a few hours earlier, I had thought that I was at the high point of my week in the radio studio and now here I was surrounded by friends and family and feeling the warmth of the fire while the crickets, my crickets, chirped all around me.

Can you even imagine somebody going through all of that work and planning for you? Award of the century goes to Lesa Bezo for pulling off the secret event of the ages.

....and guess what? My perfect day wasn't over.

After most people had left, a few of us settled inside in front of the TV for a little Red Sox action and some conversation...which lead into an impromptu watching of the first episode of Summer Heights High (a DVD gift). After a half hour of non-stop laughing, we all jumped up and drove down to The Elevens to see a concert by Spanish for Hitchhiking.

At the club, I ran into many more birthday wishers and I collapsed into the soft red sofa in front of the stage, feeling exhausted, and took in the entire Spanish set. They were so great. I had forgotten how much I missed seeing them play. Dennis' new songs were excellent and the old ones were welcome friends and when they were at there almost last song, Lesa leaned over and said, "I hope we're going to take the palace". Without missing a beat, the band played their huge hit single and we all sang along, "Tonight we take the palace!".

Fancy Trash then took the stage and one great concert was followed by another, the addition of Katie on pedal steel and dobro and harmonies transformed the band into a whole different realm. I dug the whole thing.

What a day. Thank you, everyone.

(PS. I closed my eyes and tried to picture everyone at the party while writing this. If I missed you, please forgive me. It was a lot to take in.)


sarah. said...

the show was great! ken and i tuned in.

Henning said...

Thanks, Sarah.