Matt’s birthday is this week. He is not a big fan of birthdays or having a lot of attention given to him. We’ve been talking about his birthday for quite some time, especially what he might want as a birthday gift. Let’s just say that his ideas and suggestions were less than helpful. Luckily, I had a few ideas up my sleeve, so I did not have a problem coming up with what I thought was an awesome gift.
As awesome as I thought my gift was, I would never be able to top the gift he received a few days before his actual birthday. There has been a surprise in the works for many months. When I say surprise, I am talking about a surprise of epic proportions. I was fortunate enough to be in on the surprise and to help Ben plan some of the details. Keeping things a surprise is very challenging, especially when Matt has a way of finding everything out.
On Tuesday, October 21st Matt’s dad, Roger, and stepmom, Toshi, arrived in Paris. This was both of their first trips to France and the occasion for their visit was Matt’s birthday. Ben went to the airport to pick them up and I stayed in Tours to make sure that everything went according to plan. Matt worked the night before at the hotel, which meant that he was going to sleep until early afternoon. My job was simple: make sure he was awake and did not leave the house prior to Roger and Toshi’s arrival.
Luckily, I had some online classes to teach that morning, and as I am still waiting for the Internet to be installed at my apartment it was the perfect excuse for me to hang out all morning at Matt and Ben’s. Of course, the one morning that Matt had to be awake at a somewhat normal time he decided to stay in bed and hit snooze four times! By the third time I was up and about moving around trying to wake Matt, without making him mad.
Eventually, Matt got out of bed and came downstairs to the kitchen. We talked for a bit, while I was texting with Ben to get constant updates on their ETA. After what seemed like hours, the door bell rang. A little back story, Matt loathes the doorbell. Every time it sounds he becomes enraged and has a one man show about how much he hates the doorbell. This time was no different. Except that on the other side of the door was his dad and stepmom. Ben filmed the event from the street and I filmed from the house. It was an awesome moment to witness!
Of course Matt had not showered and was still in his pyjamas, however he was so overwhelmed by the moment that he didn’t really seem to care. Until he realized we had filmed the whole experience. The next several hours were a blur, but so much fun! This was the first time I had met Roger and Toshi and I was very happy to be included in this very personal moment with Matt.
For Matt’s actual birthday there was a bit of a ‘surprise party’ at his house. I spent the day preparing from my upcoming vacation and cleaning my apartment. Because I don’t have the internet I’ve been spending a lot of time at a bar/café on the same street as my apartment. I’ve become a regular, and the best part is the resident border collie, Goomba. I now can get puppy cuddles on a daily basis! 🙂 That afternoon I was hanging out at le Bartók being productive when I saw Matt and Ben wander by and then come in. Turns out, they had just stopped by my apartment to invite me to grab a drink in honor of Matt’s birthday. Since I was already at the bar, I put my computer away and spent time chatting with them. (The whole time Ben and I were having a secret combination about the upcoming events for the night).
Once we finished our drinks we parted ways. Matt wanted me to return home with them, as ‘we were having a traditional French dinner’ for his birthday. I told him that I had to stop by my apartment and drop off my computer and to get his birthday present, but that I would come over shortly. I arrived at his house and it seemed like any other night. We were hanging out in his kitchen and talking. We were all drinking either a coffee or a water and were about to being our apéro. During this time Matt opened his gifts and was completely oblivious to the impending events.
As we were opening presents and talking the doorbell rang. (This completely reminded me of the book “The Doorbell Rang.” The first guest was our friend Céline. Matt was completely surprised, as he had only moments before finished saying how he had to introduce his dad and stepmom to Céline. Over the next 90 minutes the doorbell rang many, many more times. Each time, Matt had the same reaction. It was such a low-key relaxed night, but also a perfect way to celebrate Matt.
We ate, drank, and talked for many, many hours. This was a turning moment for me, as it was the first event in France that I felt neither intimidated nor out of place. I was comfortable starting conversations with each of the guests. Also, I was able to act as a translator for Roger and Toshi, which was a huge boost in my confidence.
Around 1am many people started to leave, but I hung around talking with my new ‘family.’ After several more hours and several heartfelt conversations, I decided it was time for me to head home. At this point it was about 5am. What an experience walking home at 5am. I was not scared, but it was a new experience for me.
All things considered, I would say that Matt’s birthday was a huge success. I also think that this birthday is going to be near impossible to top!