40. It’s just a number, isn’t it? Well, I would argue the answer is both yes and no. Having recently attained this milestone in my life, I thought I should wax philosophical about my entry into ‘middle age’ and moving into a new decade. However, that is a bit challenging and difficult. I’m not quite ready to start talking about shaking off this mortal coil, or anything like that. So, I’d rather just focus this post on the awesome party that Deanna pulled together to celebrate. After all, your life is defined by your experiences and your relationships, isn’t it? I’ve been blessed to have both in spades to this point, and this post is at least an opportunity to acknowledge that. Have I gotten any wiser in my age? I think so. Any more mature? I certainly hope not! What’s the fun in that? With that, please read on for a bit more detail on my 40th birthday celebrations.
Off the bat, I would say that it likely wasn’t fair for poor Deanna to be faced with the task of meeting my expectations for a ‘blow-out’ for my 40th. After all, I’ve been imagining this party for quite some time, and all sorts of crazy ideas surfaced. However, now that the time was upon us, the reality was that I was not going to be sky-diving into my backyard pool and have a 3-day on-site music festival. The permitting alone would have been too complex, and funds just a little too tight. Guess those things will have to wait for the 50th!! What we did have was an awesome party with a great range of friends spanning several decades of ‘experiences’ that I’ve shared. In addition, we had 3 delicious kegs of beer and lots of other beverages to keep people ‘hydrated’ and smiling. And yes, there were in fact 3 cakes as well. Two were beer-battered bacon topped monstrosities of awesomeness, and the third was a kid-friendly simpler cake. Needless to say, all kegs and cakes were consumed by the masses by the time the evening / morning drew to a close.
The weather wanted to play tricks on us, deciding to unleash some pretty heavy rains throughout the day, but by 7pm or so, things cleared up and merely left us with brooding skies and a wet deck. To give Deanna time and space to prepare, I left the house earlier in the day to go for a long run. I laughed out loud as I ended up runninng through some of the heaviest rains I’ve ever experienced in Gatineau Park…. at the FURTHEST point in my run! Happily, the weather did NOT stop us from enjoying the pool, hot tub, and fun games in the yard. We ended up forgoing the giant outdoor beer pong match in the front yard (till the next morning), but we DID have a super-cool scavenger hunt. In a nod to my adventure racing spirit, Deanna had set up 10 mini checkpoints with clues scattered around our yard, our neighbours yard and the neighbourhood. It was really fun watching people scattered around our little ‘hood searching for the clues. With each CP was a letter or letters which could be unscrambled to ultimately spell ‘Artisans Alehouse’, the name we’ve attached to our humble abode. Ironically, I was one of the LAST to unscramble the answer, much to Deanna’s amusement!
For the most part, the fun was in simply hanging out with so many great people that I’m proud to refer to as my ‘family’. They came from all over, comprising people I’ve been hanging out with since University up to my latest family of endurance training and racing friends and new neighbours. Lots of great conversations and ‘cross-pollination’ all around. And of course the best wife ever, Deanna, and her sister Cheryl to round out the ‘family’ side of things. Sadly, no blood relatives were in attendance, but plenty of well wishes had been sent our way from all over the world (Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Montreal, Nova Scotia, South Africa, Las Vegas, and Australia to name the more ‘exotic’).
The music was continuous, and as the night wore on, the obligatory dance party busted out in the lower level with plenty of laughs and funny hats. Outside, tiki torches were lit, bathing suits donned, and kids and parents enjoyed the hot tub and the pool. For the main course, we kept things simple by going with BBQ sausages, but that seemed to keep the hungry masses more or less satisfied, especially when it was paired with the many other snacks and side dishes laid out in the dining room.
As the hours rolled by, the numbers dropped, but the noise levels and silliness continued to increase. My self-proclaimed goal was to stay up until at least 5am, since that was the actual hour of my birth a mere 40 years ago. I’m happy to report that I was the last man standing (or rather, sitting at that point), making it all the way to 5:20am. Big shout out to my closest circle of buddies (Matt, Rob, Andy, and Dave) for crashing overnight and making it the perfect ending to the night. In addition, my new neighbour Mark also showed he was no slouch by also being amongst the last people there, and also providing the 2-keg kegerator and helping with some set-up and tear down. It’s really great to finally live somewhere that I feel like I’m part of a ‘community’! At one point, the remaining 4 guests along with Deanna and I were soaking in the hot tub, and Mark was actually fetching beers for us! Now THAT is service!
To complement the memories that I will hold in my head of the night (and perhaps supplement some of the ‘blanks’), we tried to do some documenting of the festivities. I’d set up a ‘truth booth’ where people could record personal greetings to me, and I also wore a GoPro for several hours snapping a picture every second. The results of these two experiments were mixed, so I have yet to put together a final video. If I do, I’ll post it on YouTube. Otherwise, it’ll just stay in the ‘personal files’. We also had a couple cameras floating around to take pictures, so I’ve put up some of the best shots on flickr. Thanks to Dave McMahon for snatching one of those cameras and wandering around taking all sorts of pictures of guests for us.
All in all, this was definitely a night to remember, and I’m so happy so many people could share in the merriment with us. Between the many beers and other random shots that were consumed, I was not exactly a happy camper the next morning when Rob insisted I get out of bed and celebrate more! At 9am, I was being physically kicked out of bed to join Matt, Dave, Andy and Rob on the deck for fresh beers. Although I was definitely not feeling great, I was handed one to drink. After that, Rob wanted to try his hand at giant outdoor Beer Pong, which he and Andy did as I watched on (laying prone in the grass). I can’t help but look back and laugh at that. It must have been quite a sight. Once they finally packed up and left around noon, I crawled back into bed to ‘recover’.
As it turns out, the rest of my ACTUAL birthday, which was Sunday, was very low key. My sister and family initiated a Skype call which I woke myself up for in order to talk for a while. We shared some laughs, and I opened a gift they had sent me and saved to open in front of the kids on the video. It was pretty swell. I only talked to my dad the next day as well. As for my birthday supper? Well, let’s just say I only made it as far as the closest McDonald’s for a feast of terrible comfort food, which I enjoyed while laying on the couch watching something on Netflix. Not exactly a fancy birthday meal, but it had to do. I only felt slightly bad for having not trained that day, but in truth, that was pretty much what I had planned!
With that, I will close off this post. As mentioned, I truly feel lucky to have such wonderful friends and family, and such an exciting and eventful life. I have never taken it for granted, and certainly don’t plan to start. Since I live in the present, every day is a gift! With that, we found ourselves a mere week away from the next adventure, Rideau Lakes Bike Tour, a 350km weekend bike tour from Ottawa to Kingston. Stay tuned for that next post! Till then, may your days be sunny and warm, and if they aren’t, enjoy the refreshment of rain!