In an effort to maximize my time (and fun), I invited three of my best friends from college to join me in road-tripping to Philly to celebrate Max’s 21st birthday and visit our college friend Emma (who also lives in Philly). We started the trip dropping by Max’s house with his best friend from home, who came up to surprise Max for his birthday. Since Max needed study time, we left and headed over to Emma’s to tour the city.
We started by getting cheese steaks and sandwiches at Reading terminal, deciding to brave the line at DiNick’s and try some of their famous sandwiches. (They were great, but no where near the best sandwich in America.) Then we headed over to the museum Emma works at, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, which is owned by the guy responsible for all of Philly’s mosaic murals. The inside and outside and ceilings of the museum were totally covered in the uniquely beautiful textural collage of the mosaics. Emma gave us a private tour that made the work even more beautiful.
We strolled over the the liberty bell and then back to Emma’s for some catching up, mimosas and getting ready for Max’s birthday dinner. There’s something that feels like a homecoming no matter where we are of being together again. Even though we’ve all graduated and our lives have moved past Mary Washington, there’s a familiarity and an understanding of each other that’s still there. I know that these girls will be my friends for life, because no matter how long has passed, we can always pick up where we left off, not just re-hashing funny college memories (although of course there is a lot of that) but also discussing whatever is new in our lives.
I debated for a while going to Max’s birthday dinner, since I knew he had a lot of work and didn’t want to burden him with hosting duties; but sitting at the table with my friends and his friends, celebrating his birthday there is no place I would rather have been. There were spontaneous rounds of toasts and at least three of Max’s friends pulled me aside to tell me that my brother is one of the best guys they know. I didn’t give a toast, mostly because I didn’t know what to say, but looking back the toast that night could have been the same as the one I gave at Max’s Bar Mitzvah.
The night of Max’s Bar Mitzvah my parents hosted a dinner for family and friends. During the toasts my father asked me to give an impromptu toast and without a moment’s hesitation, I stood up and said “I never understood why people cried at these things until today. I can’t imagine being prouder of anyone.” It was one of those moments where you are so engulfed in it that there is no need to think or craft the proper thing to say. A moment where your heart and mind are so close together that you can’t speak from anywhere but your heart.
So even though the Monday after this weekend I was exhausted and I spent too much money, I am so glad that I got to be a part of celebrating one of the best guy’s I know, my brother, Max’s birthday.