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This weekend I learned that I am loved.

Today I turned 20. Normally one wouldn't consider that a special event with respect to other birthdays (that one will come next year), but we leap-year babies only really get our day once every four years, so I was looking forward to it. Among the events that transpired over the past few days:

  • My mother had the dorms make me a birthday cake, a little round vanilla one with sprinkles and a serving knife. It got here on Thursday, and I carried it regally up to the dorm room. Cake rocks.

  • Wuukiee and mcc got in touch with me and asked me if I wanted to go see King Lear. I said yes, and so they went out of their way to get another ticket beforehand. Friday night, we met up, went to go see it, were awestruck by the acting in the second half of the play (or, at least, I was), and left the theater very satisfied. We swung by my place, picked up the cake, and ate a few slices in Wuukiee's apartment, then played some Double Dash and generally chilled.

  • So it's Saturday afternoon, and I get a call from CzarKhan if I want to come over and watch a movie. Having nothing better to do, I say cool, and he comes by and picks me up. I walk into his house, and people jump out and say "Surprise!" And now I feel kind of stupid for saying this, but it didn't really hit me right away that the "surprise!" thing was for me; I thought that people might have been just trying to get together and scare CzarKhan or something. But I looked up, and sure enough, there was a sign that says "Happy 5th Birthday, Chris!" above the archway, and this is when I realized that something strange and wonderful was happening. Those in attendance were CzarKhan, brainwave, evadyne, Ohler, and Lehmann. (Wuukiee and mcc were invited, apparently, but they had a prior engagement; no worries.)

    They had made potato soup and lime-ade and salad and stuff for sammiches, and we had a wonderful feast. This whole time I was still in shock from realizing that someone had thrown a birthday party for me, and I was just sitting there, munching on my sammich, taking it all in, and eventually it became less incredible and more enjoyable and my mind settled down. We played some righteous Kart, broke out with Settlers of Catan (playing with six players is really fun), had a pseudo-philosophical discussion about The Matrix (don't those always happen somehow?), and generally had fun. And Ohler brought a cake too! So there was a lot of cake in my life. But cake still rocks. And, somehow, I ended up walking home with a copy of Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver and a DVD of Y Tu Mamá También.

  • Today, my parents came up from Indianapolis and took myself, my two brothers, and my roommate out to lunch at Logan's Steakhouse; we ate lots of peanuts. I brought the cards that I had received in the mail, and among them was a surprisingly earnest letter in my grandmother's near-indecipherable handwriting. My parents gave me some money. We hugged and said our farewells.

  • Later this evening, my friends downstairs in the dorm, Paul and Ana (recently engaged), said out of the blue that they wanted to take me out to Pizza Hut, Paul's treat. We walked to the Pizza Hut at Purdue West and had some good pineapple pizza and mozzarella sticks.

  • The weather has been beautiful this entire weekend.

So this leaves me here, wondering what exactly I did to merit this outpouring of good will. Is a birthday really that special? Did I unwittingly commit some great deed of cosmic goodness? Are the stars aligned in my favor? Is the rarity of the leap year such that all the good fortune gets saved up over time and discharged every four years like some karmic capacitor? In any case, I want to thank everyone who made this weekend the best one I have ever had. I feel that this is more than I deserve, but I now know that there are people with whom I truly belong, and I can not give enough thanks for that.