The Community of Celebration
A few weeks ago, I celebrated another year of life in this world.
It snuck up quietly as most adult birthdays do. But celebration is central to my philosophy of life so I started devising a plan.
About a year ago, I had the idea of doing a “Coffee Shop Hop.” (Think pub crawl but with coffee shops.) The problem was, no one was up for waking up before the sunrise and consuming grotesque amounts of coffee with me. That is, until my birthday came along and they were all guilted into it.
It was a bleak and drizzly morning. Hubby lamented the weather but I was delighted that Hawaii had provided the best sort of coffee-consuming winter weather it could muster.
We drove across deserted streets in the dark to pick up a few friends. As they climbed into the back of our Jeep, they told me I better feel loved because they were waking up before 6am on a weekend to celebrate with me. I was loved.
At our first stop, sleepy customers were filing into slowly to have the barista hook their caffeine IVs up. My friends were probably in the same boat, I chipperly skipped into the line.
As we all filled in around the first table, my sweet friend implored everyone to take turns saying something they loved about me and it ended in a roaring version of the “Happy Birthday!” that drew some looks but also drew our lips into smiles.
We crept back out into the darkness and drove along the coast to the next stop. After the first shop, we had decided to go to only new shops that other friends had recommended.
Unfortunately, we didn’t realize the the second shop was set up on a pier, with only the coffee bar and a few small, full tables under cover. The rest was set so that you could sit and watch the sunrise across the water. The drizzle that tarnished the bottoms of our pant legs and mussed our hair insisted that this be a “grab and go” spot but we all resolved that on a clear day (and maybe, a few grumbled, at a decent hour), we would all love to return and sit on the pier with our coffee.
The third stop was in a little college section of Oahu called Manoa. It came highly recommended by several people. The coffee itself might have been my favorite but we didn’t care much for the vibe. We instantly felt like outsiders. I’m not sure if it was our peppy attitudes in the early morning (okay, by this time it was after 8) or the quickly identifiable military haircuts the fellas all had but as we stood in line and sat sipping coffee, we felt as if we were intruding on a family breakfast.
The final shop, Blue Tree Coffee in Honolulu, was my favorite. The baristas were the most engaging and enthusiastic we’d encountered that day. The coffee was delicious and the environment was delightful.
As we sat there, we FaceTimed friends, made plans, and laughed the sort of laugh that rumbles deep in your belly before shooting out into the world. It is a memory I will cherish forever.
It doesn’t matter where we start from, our journeys take us all around. Our surroundings change. Our celebrations change. We change. But no matter the changes, I think birthdays bring us back to our roots. To the simple things of life. To the joys of a cup of coffee and licking batter from brownie bowls. Of celebrating and delighting in the beauties of life. In the midst of a tumultuous year, having friends set aside time to celebrate, especially at 5:30 in the morning, was the greatest gift I could ask for. They gave me more than companionship, they gave me community. In that community, there is partnership in the past and the security of fellowship in the future.