24 January 2012


I've decided that today, on this anniversary of my own birth, I'm going to list every thing that comes my way in this 24-hour period that seems a gift, whether it was gift wrapped and bow-tied or slid into an envelope or not.

* An occasion to put on my sunglasses. Sunshine! God knew I needed some of that.

* A tearful and sweet conversation with my sister (actually late last night but who's counting?), whom I love more and more every day. It's a strange thing to grow in your love for someone with whom you didn't think that was possible, especially someone you've known from the start of your very life. But it is.

* A sprightly, spring-hued, vintage-style kitchen apron from Rose.

* A card full of encouragement and well-wishes from one of the dearest friends God ever did give me. She tells me I'm loved and beautiful, and I believe her.

* Another dear friend, a walk, a cup of coffee, a photograph and laughter.
photo cred: cute little meg

* A little bag holding pepperminty foot cream and a pretty hair tie from the Aveda store. They're from a fourth grade girl, a sweet one named Eliza, and I don't even teach her this year! What a kind and thoughtful gal.

* Something I would be remiss to leave off this list is the absolute glut of happy, beautifully-worded Facebook messages I've received. It makes a person feel pretty loved, gotta say.

* A happy birthday wish from one of the science teachers here at school as we descended the stairs to our respective classrooms early this morning. He said "You know Evie, I heard someone say how old you are and I can honestly say that I did not expect you were anywhere near that age." Haaaaaa-lle-lu-jah!

*A music recommendation from a friend, The Staves. Holy Lord. Hold onto your socks. (And forgive the intermittent coughing from the person holding the camera.)

* A lively, sweet birthday text from my dear brother Joshua who is currently in the process of losing his dad to a long-time illness. I have never felt my heart so torn in two opposing directions.

* The fact that my fifth graders, God love 'em, are on a field trip today which means that today I teach....shhhhh.... one class. One!! This puts me squarely and immediately in the window seat of the library with computer in lap, coffee in hand, trees outside, M. Ward in my ears and a lovely, unusual quiet in my head. Busily going about the fun sort of work, seeking out and researching a professional development opportunity for the coming summer. I'm thinking plein air drawing and painting in Montreal. Stay tuned.

* Deserving, definitely, a most honorable mention is the sweetest gift from my dear Annie B. On Friday she drove straight from South Bend, Indiana right to my doorstep and, after we squealed and squeezed the living stuffin' out of each other, she took me to a fine, fine dinner at Margot. We munched on toasted bread with Humboldt Fog cheese and a dried fruit agrodolce. I sipped a Vieux Carre and she a classic Martini, olive garnish. Since I chose the cooked-to-order roasted chicken with white beans and kale, we had to wait a bit and ordered also the roasted beet starter with pink grapefruit sections and a toasted hazelnut vinaigrette. Among the tastes and the sips and the orders and the bites, we talked, laughed, eavesdropped, told stories about life and pontificated about men, wondered at children and at food...and then we laughed some more. Such pure goodness and deep understanding there is in our friendship -- I could not be more grateful than I am. Our meal ended with a time-honored dessert, the baba au rhum. It was wholly polished off, believe you me.

* The fact that during his lunchtime announcement from the stage, a terrific, sure-footed, fro-headed little fifth grader named Julian said into the microphone, "Be sure to wish Miss Coates a happy birthday." You can imagine what ensued. It was delightful.

* The happy birthday serenade I just received from my third graders.....in Chinese.

* These flowers from my sister and brother. They came from Oshi, perhaps the finest floral artist in Nashville and are as bright-shining, sweet-smelling, beautifully-asymmetrical, and perfectly-arranged as can be. Add to that the fact that the givers are currently in a hospital, walking through one of the most dim and difficult experiences life has to offer with Joshua's dad. Here we have the perfect recipe for Evie falling to pieces during drawing dragons with the kiddos in class. I feel special, loved, considered, and loved again.

* And now, since I have a moment before I'm off to the next portion of my day and since I know I won't sign back on later tonight, I'll paint how I assume the remainder of my day will play out... After school mom and I are going to meet and have our toes done and sip on glasses of white. This evening, I'm meeting my best girls for a festive, intimate dinner at ChaChah.  It's a pretty and a genteel restaurant with white, grey and wood finishes, chill and warm at the same time. (It actually looks nothing like the home page of their website makes it appear. There's no purply neon anywhere that I can see.) They also have what is probably my favorite dish in Nashville, anywhere, on their menu: the starter of warm Brussels sprouts with Marcona almonds, Thai chili, house-smoked vinegar and thin shards of Manchego cheese. I could have three orders of that and nothing else and be perfectly satisfied. It also says "kindly remove ball caps & silence cell phones" at the bottom of their menu so naturally, I'm an instant fan. After that, who knows? 

...Maybe a nightcap with someone somewhere, to stretch the day beyond its usual worth. To toast my own self and to wish my own self another year full of beauty, surprise, hard work, satisfaction, love and gratitude. Because it's my birthday and I can do what I want.