"Sure, I'll go," she off-handily offered. "Let me tell my mom."
After a quick check-in they were off, part of the group. Gradually, the laughter and calls dwindled as the two allowed the many to outpace and drift away.
They continued. Walking casually through streets each knew well - he from his daily journey to each morning and from just before every curfew; she from the familiarity found in home towns - they talked of nothing and everything. Comfortable, as friends always seem, to enjoy the silences and the laughter equally. Only bothered by the nagging sense that perhaps she should have some gift, though he insisted not.
Arriving at last, a flurry of activity takes place. There are introductions, cake, and baby cousins to keep her just a bit off-balance. There is the story of how much money he spent on the concert shirts that day and the slight discomfort that always accompanies being with any parents or adults other than our own. But, he is her friend and surprising even herself, she feels some comfort here.
Eventually, the two are alone again. Slouched postures, knees brushing lightly on the top step counting cars as they pass. Calling out "padiddle" and giving a playful punch as the game - and lacking headlights - required. Final tally was nearing a keg for her - which they laughingly agreed he could bring to her wedding one day.
Would you have told him then that this was only the first of 25 birthdays (and counting) he would share in some way with her, he probably would have laughed. He would have blushed at the idea that he would indeed carry the keg in to her wedding - little knowing it would in fact be his as well. But, life sometimes works just as we hope and birthday wishes can come true.
Happy Birthday my love! May all your birthday wishes come true.