Forgive me one more birthday story. After this post, I’ll move on with my year.
Forty years ago, on my 19th birthday, I was in my second year at Middlebury College. It was spring break, but I stayed on campus that week. I didn’t mind remaining on the almost empty campus. I had lots of course work to do. Plus, I checked a novel out of the library—something I didn’t usually have time for, because I had 1000 pages per week to read to keep up with my classes. I relished spending some down time around my studying.
The only difficulty was that the college food service was closed, because so few students remained on campus. I was making do with soup and cereal—things that could be made easily in a dorm room with no stove. At least it was cold enough to keep milk in my window sill. But still, I wouldn’t eat well that birthday week.
But I had one consolation—my father was coming to visit. He had arranged a business trip on the East Coast for the week before, and he planned to stay east for the weekend. My birthday, April 5, 1975, was on a Saturday, at the end of the spring break week. My dad promised to take me out to the best restaurant in Middlebury.
The small town of Middlebury, Vermont, boasted the usual soup and sandwich eateries and bars near campus where students hung out. But there were several good restaurants in and around the small town. Students went to these establishments only went when someone with deeper pockets (i.e., a parent) was paying.
My favorite was The Dog Team, which featured prime rib and sticky buns. The campus food service rarely served good beef. Steak and sticky buns would make my birthday special. I salivated over the thought of a good dinner after my week of soup!
Unfortunately, Vermont weather did not cooperate. A blizzard hit the Northeast on Friday. A foot of snow fell all over the state and beyond.
Imagine my horror at a blizzard in April! I had never experienced snow on my birthday before.
My father was unable to drive north on Friday night from New York or Boston or wherever his business had been. He finally made it to Middlebury late on Saturday—too late for that nice dinner I had planned.
I had soup again for my birthday meal. No cake.
He did arrive in time to take me out for brunch on Sunday, and we spent the afternoon in his hotel room watching a golf match. (His choice, not mine. But that’s how we often spent Sunday afternoons at home.)
That 19th birthday—forty years ago this year—ranks as one of my loneliest. But as I look back on it now, I realize how fortunate I was that my father planned the trip at all and that he continued it despite the inclement weather.
Now that he has passed away, I would welcome a brunch and golf match with him, even a day late.
When did someone go out of his or her way to visit you?