50th Birthday

For months I had been planning my 50th birthday month. I was to turn 50 on April 4th, 2020. My wife, Simone, has her 50th birthday on the next day, April 5th. We planned to celebrate all month long, with events and activities every day. In the middle of the month, I would be at the Gathering of Friends, a small game convention with great people and 8 days of playing board games. At the end of the month, I’d be the Chief Election Judge at a Maryland precinct for the primary election. Throughout, I’d go to our favorite restaurants and enjoy artichokes at home, which are in season during April. All interesting and fun activities.

All of this was cancelled. By March 15th, my wife and I were completely quarantined, not because we had symptoms of COVID-19, but because we didn’t want to get any. Every day brought scarier news than the last, and we alternated between paying attention to all the news and trying to avoid it since we had already done everything we could to avoid contact with others.

So, on my birthday, I logged into Discord and Board Game Arena at noon. Simone brought me a tasty lunch an hour or so into playing board games online with my friends. Throughout the day, I had local friends and ones from Boston, New York, and California all come play games with us. We played Seven Wonders, Roll for the Galaxy, Russian Railroad, Clans of Caldonia, Terraforming Mars, and a bunch of others.

At 7, we broke for dinner. Simone made me tuna steaks, mashed potatoes, and broccoli with hollandaise. After dinner, we played party games on Jack Box, and Simone served me birthday cake. Everyone sang for me, badly off key and out-of-sync. My friends gave me a gift certificate to the Labyrinth Game Shop, for when we can get together again in person. We then played all sorts of games until midnight. I felt like I had people in my house all day, but I didn’t need to feed them or clean up afterwards. It was great fun.

On Simone’s birthday, I made banana pancakes (not my best batch, but edible). We drove some of the birthday cake to her sister and mother, keeping far away from them, and then we went on a long walk near Lake Frank with Hopper.

We set up our patio with strings of LED lights and a white table cloth dinner. We wore our finest clothes and had cocktail hour. I had a rum punch and she a pear martini, both of which were delicious. We ate fillet mignon, the rest of the mashed potatoes, and asparagus. We took the below picture by setting a phone up on a timer, since nobody else was there.

Then we danced to 80’s songs in the basement until exhausted.

It was not the birthday celebration we were planning, but it was far more delightful than we had expected.