A birthday story

One birthday, when I was turning 10 or 11 years, I was alone with my father. I asked him to tell me again how it all went the day I was born. He started telling me how he was there in the delivery room, how he caught me, how he cut the umbilical cord. Back then I had no idea how extraordinary this was, because even now in Romania in many hospitals fathers are being denied access into the delivery rooms. But that is a story for another time. That day my father told me something he never told me before. He said that after my mother went to sleep to recover, he picked me up all bundled up and he walked with me to a nearby balcony. He opened the door and stepped outside with me to let me breathe in the fresh air of this world I was born in.

A real balcony moment! I am sure that if the Lion King was already a film, that I would have felt like Simba. But it wasn’t. So, instead I asked:

“Wasn’t it very cold. Was there a lot of snow?”

“No”, said my dad. “It was a very sunny day, clear sky and maybe 16 C. It was a beautiful, spring like day”.

I was immediately and utterly disappointed. The only benefits about being born in the dull month of February is that (especially back then, before global warming) there was almost always snow, always ice, and I loved that. I love spring too. But… Till that moment I always imagined my ride back home from the hospital in a beautiful sledge pulled by reindeers, sitting next to the Snow Queen, with White Fang running along me in a perfect Narnia white world. Of course, it was just a very short cab ride through my city Craiova. But still, this was a lot to fathom. 

I love winter. I love all four seasons, but I love winter when it’s real winter. With deep snow that reflects the rays of sun like a gazillion little diamants. With thick, translucent icicles to suck on, even when everyone is telling that you’ll get a sore throat. With cheerful sliding down the heals, snowball fights or ice-skating till your ears freeze off.

A few weeks ago, I was taking a long walk with a friend. We chatted about this and that, my upcoming birthday and the state the world is in now. She asked me if I could wish for anything, something doable, that could really become real in the next days for my birthday, what would that be? I didn’t hesitate and said: I wish for snow and for frozen canals to ice-skate on. She shook her head and said that the chances are close to nothing. I agreed.

Last weekend, when The Netherlands was unexpectedly transformed into winter wonderland and the ice-skating virus was getting us all, she sent me a text:

“Your wish really came through!!!”

I replied back “OMG, yesssss, I guess I should vocalise my wishes more often”.

Today it’s 44 years ago that my father held me to breathe my first fresh air outside the womb. Today, just like then, the sun is shining, the sky is blue and the temperatures are making us all to take off the winter coats.

My daughter is singing one of the few Romanian songs she knows: “Vine, vine primavara”… This means “Spring is coming”… And I love it!