Starting The Book of Delights on my 38th birthday

A hot shower first thing in the morning when the world still feels dark and dozy

Soft leggings + soft wool base-layer top (it’s purple) + soft bra + giant long cozy hooded cardigan (it has pockets) + space heater

It’s raining outside, just a little, off and on, just drops 

Grey-white December daylight in every room 

Erik is doing preschool drop-off and pickup so I don’t have to leave the house till dinner 

The big speakers hooked up to a new mellow-music playlist I spent last week putting together 

Quiet time to write in my journal, new ink in my favorite gel pen

I can breathe through my nose: which, given I’m fighting a cold, is no small thing

Quiet time to read

I have two good books to choose from, one new from the bookstore and one from the library, newly arrived after nearly two months of waiting, balanced beside me on the back of the sofette while I answer a birthday text 

I pick the latter book, recommended by my favorite new friend (someone I never get to spend quite enough time with). It is called The Book of Delights and it begins with an essay the author, Ross Gay, wrote on his 42nd birthday (today is my 38th).It’s just a few pages but Gay is a poet and those few pages are so sharp and full with delight that I almost want to cry, just to let some of that delight back out again. 

To read this essay on my birthday, amidst these other delights, knowing that my journey with this book is just beginning. 

I text my delight to my friend and she responds that she bought me that very book for my birthday and will give it to me tomorrow. 

I go into the bedroom where Erik is working, and take off my glasses and lay face-down flat on the bed for a few minutes, leaning against his shoulder, completely overcome.

We decide to order food and I find a Cantonese restaurant I’ve been wanting to try and pick everything off the menu that sounds good. The driver gets lost. I get very hungry. The food comes. It’s lukewarm but still good. I consider just chowing directly from the boxes but decide instead to use my favorite bowl, the one I bought from its maker in Barcelona, managing conversation in Spanish. I fill it with braised e-fu noodles, shrimp and scrambled egg, Fujian fried rice, rock cod and vegetables. Erik and I talk. After one bowl I’m full. 

I chat online with friends I haven’t seen in months or years. 

My best friend since age 10 texts me: has your package arrived? I venture out to check. There is a box with hot-pink writing. Inside it hot-pink tissue, a bubble-wrapped cookbook, refrigeration instructions, and an entire birthday cake, tucked securely into a foam cooler lined with ice packs. 

Our babysitter arrives in a few hours. Erik and I will go out to dinner, down the street. 

All these delights and there’s still more day. 

38-year-old Chinese American woman with short hair and glasses
Tired, sick, but happy. 38.