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Chapter 16 - The Birthday Boy

The stream trickles over the rocks, gentle pushing past the leaves and branches from the nearby maple tree, I stare at the current, the flow of water holding the symbolism for the moment. In the morning I was to celebrate another birthday, in fact it was just a few hours away and yet I sit on the edge of a thin stream that snakes around the rocks and banks of the forest and ponder another failed relationship. Too many to not see a pattern and too many to not see a fault in me.

I had been dating the same type woman, over and over again and as each one ends, I begin again, different name but the same otherwise. The endlessness of it, the boring nature of predictability, the excitement of the beginning and the misery just before the end. But now, I felt different, I could see the pattern and the role that I have played into creating the pattern. Each woman I dated was in fact perfect the way they were but it was me, it was my expectation that was the problem. And while the blame can never fall on to one person when a relationship ends, I know that dating a type of person that is still in the very beginning of figuring out what they would like in a partner could only lead to a short term relationship. Like buying a sampler size of cereal to see which flavor you like best.

Each time a relationship ends, surprise and sadness rolls me up until too much alcohol and false bravado lands me into another relationship and I limp along. But this last relationship was the final straw, the one the camel broke or some other mixed metaphor that I don't really know. The water continues to find its path, find the best route to get from upstream to downstream and I continue to sit at the bank of the stream and stare. My mind wanders from the stream to the faces of the women I have dated, the constant similarities and the vague differences, they pop up and fade out as though I was in a 60's game show.

With a simple swipe of my hand, the last of the tears comes gently off of my face and my voice though cracking announces to Mother Nature and the other Gods of the forest that, the next time that I meet someone, it will different, I will behave differently and look to see the person and not necessarily just the packaging. I push forward, shifting the weight from my bum to my legs and just like that I am standing. I stare at the stream one last time and my eyes quickly dart through the trees, seeing that darkness has taken over and soon the moon will peak through the winter scenery.

As I walk back, laughter emerges through my mouth, the ridiculousness of not seeing this pattern before, of pretending that I wasn't a relationship kind of person. Soon I'm in bed, laughing as the TV program makes its predictable yet entertaining jokes and as my eyes grow heavy, weary from the tears and the late hour, I promise myself that this year will be different, I won't just fall into any relationship, I will be wait until I find the right person at the right time.

The light soon cuts through my dream world and I wake and stretch. Day-off. Birthday. Neither of which are my favorite words but I think to myself, I am going to enjoy today. And so, I slowly walk to the kitchen, grab some eggs and start to do the only thing that I was ever good at. And as the second hand sneaks past the minute hand and the minute hand pushes past the hour hand, I soon find myself truly happy. Maybe this is where I needed to be on my birthday, just cooking, mixing and matching flavors and then eating all of it. I keep going, soon finding that friends are arriving eating some cake and drinking some coffee as the sun is moving from the east to set itself on the west. Finally I find that my house is full, full of friends, full of loved ones laughing with each other and just enjoying the comfort of being there. The sadness that I had felt before was gone, I was doing something that I loved with and for the people that I loved.


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