On our first birthday together he claimed he’d forgotten to buy me a present, and then as the day went on little packages and parcels kept appearing from here there and everywhere; the glove box of the car, or behind a cushion on the sofa, culminating with a watch in a little wrapped box sat at my place at the dinner table.
On our second birthday together we were still in term time, and my family came down to Oxford to help us celebrate. Mum baked me a chocolate cake in the shape of a 20, but I suspect it was mostly for him.
On our third birthday together he gave me a sewing machine; an unusual 21st birthday present I grant you, but one that spoke all the words a proper Yorkshireman would never say about how much he understood me and valued me and loved me.
We’re university sweethearts rather than childhood sweethearts; we started dating when we were 18 and we’ve not quite reached the point where we have been together longer than we were ever apart, but this year our birthdays draw level. Today I have spent as many birthdays with H as without. It made for some interesting logistics at times, and some of those early birthdays did seem to be largely spent in thrall to railway timetables, but for some part of every 21st June since we met, we have been together.
I can remember when we first found out, sat in my tiny little college room with the tiny window and the giant evergreen tree right outside; me sat at my desk, finishing something or other, and he perched on the edge of my bed. We weren’t dating then I think, just friends hurtling headlong to becoming much more, though neither of us knew it then, and talking about summers turned into talking about birthdays. He didn’t believe me at first, though I’ve no idea what sort of joke he thought I’d be planning by pretending to share a birthday. I contemplated pulling out my birth certificate to prove it, but settled for chucking a hole punch at him, which either convinced him of my good faith, or put him in fear of more flying stationery.
And thus began years of confusing people with official forms (“I just need to double check – is your date of birth really…?”) and answering “Happy Birthday” with “Happy Birthday!”, rather than the possibly more traditional “thank you”, and probably really befuddling our children just as we did our families.
And now we are 36. It means that today, instead of marking the milestone of having been an adult as long as I was a child (which is optimistic anyway because while the 18 year old me was absolutely adamant that she was all grown up, the 36 year old me is equally certain that I was not. Very much not), I’m celebrating again with my best friend.
Eighteen birthdays together, and many many more to come.
I’m working today, and Kitty is going on a school trip, and H and the little ones will still go to the supermarket and probably still do some laundry, just like any other day. But we’ll have cake for pudding, and possibly steak for tea (yes, please if you’re reading this my love), and it will be in every respects both extraordinary and terribly ordinary. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Happy Birthday to us!
(with thanks to Kitty for the brilliant pictures, and Elma for starting that tickle fight)