How to turn 60: First, live 59 years and 364 days (give or take, with leap years). Then wait.
If you're lucky and smart (mostly lucky), you'll do what I did this past Tuesday, and leave the rest to your family and friends. I promised I'd tell you about my milestone birthday after this post, and so I will. Suffice it to say everything worked out exactly the way I would have wanted without my having to do anything at all.
My lovely wife Jessica had obviously been cooking up a number of plans for a while, but I had decided not to try and decipher the clues. Guessing correctly would have led to a slight letdown, and guessing incorrectly would simply make me look stupid. Neither of those things was desirable so I decided, against my nature, to go with the flow.
A few things I knew in advance: First, Jess, our son Josh and I would be traveling into New York City. That's where our daughter Eve lives and there wasn't a chance this day was going by without seeing her. She wasn't coming here to New Jersey because Tuesday is a working day and she takes that seriously. I also figured there would be a walking tour of some kind because Jess told me to wear comfortable shoes. Which was silly, because she knows I refuse to own any uncomfortable shoes.
There were other mumbles here and there but I ignored them. Go with the flow.
Sure enough on Tuesday morning I was greeted with warm wishes and gifts, the coolest of which was a set of Beatles guitar picks (not used by actual Beatles but with various images of and about the band on them). Then I was instructed to find a parking garage on my app that was near a particular address on E. 8th St. in Manhattan (Jess gave me the coordinates), and we were off.
It's not a long drive and there isn't much traffic at midday. Less than an hour after leaving our home and dog we were on the lower end of Manhattan island and parking in the garage my app had found. The trick was that we weren't staying in that neighborhood and needed to catch a subway to get where we were going. This was hardly our first time in New York so we found our way to Bowling Green fairly easily.
There, in front of the Museum of the American Indian (I don't name these things) we were met by a very nice man named Bruce who, sure enough, was to be our guide on a tour I'd surmised against my will (because Jess said that turning onto Lafayette St. was "appropriate") would have some mention of Alexander Hamilton.
And so it was. Bruce was to take us around Lower Manhattan and point out various spots where George Washington and Hamilton had been present at significant moments during the American Revolution, and we learned a great deal. Did you know that Washington at one point came in possession of General Howe's dog... and sent him back to the general in the middle of a battle? That Washington spoke very quietly because he was afraid his false teeth (not made of wood) would fall out? That Hamilton didn't actually rap?
The tour was very interesting if a trifle hard on the feet (comfortable shoes or not) after more than three hours. It was time to meet Eve and go back to the subway stop where we'd started because that was near the restaurant where we had reservations. There we were met by two of my cousins who live in the neighborhood and a lovely meal was eaten.
But the best part came around dessert. Jess reached into her large purse and pulled out a gift (I thought we'd done gifts already), which I unwrapped. Inside was a photo album.
She, Josh and Eve had conspired to get as many friends as possible to send photographs containing birthday messages, and they'd compiled them in the book with the help of my closest friend.
I have looked at that book every day since then, at least once. I can't sufficiently articulate how it makes me feel except to say it's the best present I've ever gotten.
So that's how you turn 60. If you're lucky--very lucky (like I am)--and smart (debatable).
And there were a bunch more. I can't include them all. It was a very fine birthday, and thanks to all who took part!
Tomorrow: A visit from Circe Link on the creative process of songwriting!