I wasn’t really expecting anything 44 days before my birthday.

As my husband and I were driving the streets of Downtown Dallas, I focused on familiar buildings and in a tourist voice, I said, “Look there is the Federal Courthouse.” I’ve been in the building hundreds of time and at one point knew the security guards and the correct way to pass through the metal detectors. But for some reason, it seem so new to me, the white and black evoking feelings of nostalgia. I was really conversing with myself, the experiences of my law days racing as a flashback in my mind. Our car passed my former law office buildings, local restaurants where I had lunched, and sidewalk benches where I reshuffled papers in my briefcase in preparation for court.

My eyes were still gazing at the streets my husband maneuvered the car into a figure eight around the streets in an attempt to find parking. After a few circles, my husband parked the car and we stood at a restaurant named Iron Cactus. In my years in downtown Dallas, I’ve never dined here before, and am a little curious as to why he picked this particular restaurant.

As I walk up the staircase in the restaurant, I am admiring the ambiance of what is around me, while my husband is almost four steps ahead me. I cross the last step and I hear in unison, “Surprise!” followed by “Happy Birthday Rudri!”

There are at least twenty people there, some of who have known me for over twenty years. I am overwhelmed. I start hugging everyone, one by one, feeling giddy. I hug my husband and my sister especially tight, the masterminds behind this surprise.

I couldn’t help but reflect on my surprise party. At one end of the table were my high school buddies at the other end were friends I’ve known since my childhood. In the middle, seats were occupied by family. I couldn’t help but think, the kaleidoscope  of my own life were intersecting. It was blending of the past and my present, the different phases of my life – My childhood, my high school years, my life spent as a lawyer, and the irony of the name, the Iron Cactus, representing my new life in Arizona.

As I looked at my family and friends, I kept smiling all night long,  like an overgrown kid, relishing in my carefree mood. It was a nice surprise to experience the freedom of being young again and being old enough to understand the gravity of this emotion.

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How do you react to surprises? What are you best memories of a surprise? Did it overwhelm you? Were you surprised by your reaction?

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