You didn’t ask me to do this, but on that birthday night I took it upon myself to make sure you got home in one piece. I wanted to tuck you in and make sure you slept on your side and not your back (we wouldn’t want you choking on any vomit), to make you a hearty breakfast the next morning to help with the monstrous and inevitable hangover that’d be assaulting your brain and every muscle. So I didn’t get too drunk on your birthday.
Don’t think that I didn’t have a good time, though. Because I did. It was a different kind of night for me, fun to go to new bars and to have a private table in the back. It felt a bit glamorous.
Do you remember what we did for your birthday? As a couple? I can’t really remember. I think I took you out to dinner, but I have no idea what restaurant. Your actual birthday was on a Thursday that year, so we went out after work. I do remember the gift I gave you, though, and how much I struggled with figuring out what you might like.
Your birthday was our first opportunity to give each other gifts. Sure we’d done the whole summer vacation tchotchkes thing where you brought me back this awesome wooden bookmark (I still use it in every one of the books I read) from the Outer Banks and I brought you back this cheesy shot glass and gimmicky Big Gay Dolphin Souvenir Shop t-shirt from Myrtle Beach. But those are fun gifts, unplanned things that are almost meant as throwaways. A birthday present is far more serious. It takes thought and planning. And it’s supposed to last. I knew I couldn’t make a rash decision.
To add to the pressure, we’d been dating for seven months at that point and whatever I got you would then define what you would get me two months later for my birthday and then again for Christmas. I’ve never been good at giving gifts, probably because I’m not that good at receiving them. I also had difficulty picking something out for you because I felt it would define the direction of our relationship.
We weren’t super serious yet; we’d only met seven months before. But we were more than something casual. At that point we’d already exchanged those three words – I love you. We’d also talked about the potential of moving in together, not anytime in the present, but down the road. We had already established the possibility of an infinite expiration date.
I felt weighed down by all of this pressure. Sure, you would have liked an iPad or a really nice bag. I could always have bought you a pair of Cole Haan boots or new designer sunglasses. I could have swung those on my budget. Nice labels, but nothing too expensive. But those things would just be stuff. I wanted to get you something nice, but more importantly, something meaningful. I wracked my brain for weeks, but couldn’t come up with anything.
Luckily, about a month before your birthday, I took a trip to Philadelphia for a mini-reunion with my college friends. All four of them had serious boyfriends at the time. I knew one of them would have a good idea for me. And they ever came through for me.
One of my friends had recently gotten personalized tumblers for her boyfriend. What a perfect gift for you! Imagine how excited I got at the prospect of you opening up my gift to see a pair of beautiful glasses with your monogram on them. You love going out and drinking. And there’s nothing you like more than a nice glass of champagne. I had my gift – a pair of monogrammed champagne glasses. It was fun, personal, lasting and unexpected. You’d hold onto them for years. And I could buy a bottle of good champagne to go with it and we could toast to your birthday on the spot. And then have really hot birthday sex made all the better by the awesomely thoughtful gift I’d just gotten you.
I know that it seems cheap to rely on someone else’s idea for your birthday gift, and I felt a little inauthentic in doing it. Something as important as the first birthday gift for your serious boyfriend should come from you. But my girlfriend’s idea was so good. And I had literally exhausted my brain thinking of what to get you. When I heard a great idea, I couldn’t help but take it and tailor it for you. You loved those monogrammed champagne glasses when you opened them. We had our first toast and it was wonderfully classy. At least, that’s how I felt.
We didn’t use them very often after that, though. It took me a while to remember I’d actually gotten them for you. I think you put them up in your cabinet and they got lost.
Come to think of it, that night on your birthday might be the only time we ever used them together. We should have pulled them out for our last Valentine’s Day. A missed opportunity, I guess. Maybe they weren’t as meaningful a gift as I thought.
Or maybe, and the thought makes me panic, you had an accident and one or both of them got broken. God knows you, me and your friends broke a few champagne glasses when game night got heated. Would you have told me, though, if they were broken? Shit. Now I really want to know what happened to them. If you get this far, can you call or text me the answer? Maybe take a quick picture with your phone so I can see that they do still exist. And if they do, I hope you still use them. A gift’s a gift, no matter where it came from. It still holds those feelings and sentiments I had for you back when I got them.
So that was your birthday last year. It was fun. I think I did a great job all around. I wonder what you’re doing this year…you always said you were going to do it big for 25. It’s a milestone birthday. I’m sad to miss it.