I haven't really been at this whole blogging thing for very long, so my absence likely has gone unnoticed, I'm sure. I've thought about this place often throughout the past couple months, but I've been doing more than reflecting. Maybe we can catch up sometime? For now, though, I want to tell you about my birthday. More than my birthday, I want to tell you about my friends. If I only had one of these amazing women in my life, I'd consider myself so lucky. But the fact is that I have a whole team of loving, thoughtful, and beautiful friends who overwhelm me with their generosity on a regular basis. They all got together for my birthday and planned an unforgettable weekend.

It started with an email I sent to a few of my closest friends saying that I wanted to have a party for my 30th birthday, but didn't want to plan it. Within a day of sending it, I had been taken off the email chain and was forced to relinquish any control I once had over the situation. Each friend took on a different task, from planning the menu and preparing all the food, to mixing the agua frescas, to decorating the house, and distracting me the day of the party. No detail was forgotten.

My house was filled with so much warmth that night.

The next morning -- on my actual birthday -- we had brunch up the street at one friend's house, with everyone who was included on that initial email. It was sweet and low key, and exactly what I needed the morning after a big party. At once, all of them looked at each other and nodded and said, "ok, let's go!" We all packed into a few cars, and they ended up driving me to my mom and dad's house. I knew they weren't home, and had no idea why we were there.

They brought me to the back yard, to the furthest point near where all the family pets are buried. There was a shovel stuck in the ground, with a balloon tied to it. It was rainy out, and we were all bundled up. I ran inside and grabbed my mom's coat and boots because I wasn't prepared for what came next. They each gave me a letter that they had written to me, that I wasn't allowed to read at that moment. I still haven't read them. Instead, I had to dig a big hole and bury these letters so we can reconvene in 10 years, on my 40th birthday, and dig them up. Two friends played guitar and sang "Bookends" by Simon and Garfunkel, which is one of my favorite songs. Tears rolled down my cheeks, and everyone else's too.

Once we buried the letters, we stripped down to our bras and underwear and warmed up in the hot tub before my parents got home.

I don't know what I did to deserve such an incredible demonstration of love, but I'm very aware of how lucky I am. I keep thinking of those letters and can't believe I have to wait 10 years to read them.

____________________ These photos were taken by Halley Roberts and Sarah Castagnola.