“Many happy returns” is a greeting which is used by some on birthdays, and by others in response to “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year .” Since the 18th century this has been used as a salutation to offer the hope that a happy day being marked would recur many more times. It is now primarily used, by some, on birthdays. Prior to the mid-19th century, it was used at any celebratory or festive event. The phrase is more common in British English, Indian English and Hiberno English than in Canadian English or American English.
Current usage is often as a more formal option than ‘Happy Birthday’. It is also often found on greetings cards.
I personally first learned it from Winnie-the-Pooh, who is a silly old bear.
Today, I know a few people who have birthdays, but I especially have been thinking of my friend, Judy.
She was originally introduced to me as J’wyldragon (a chat and journal handle) by our mutual friend ZorkFox (at the time, I knew him by the handle Scirocco as well his real name).
I’d gone to help Zork with a convention. He was working security, and it was a small con, but he was a little short on assistance. Since he knew that a) I was a responsible adult, b) I knew how to use a 2-way radio (he knew I’d worked previously as a dispatcher) and c) he trusted me to be said responsible adult, he’d asked if I could help. He also mentioned that it was possible that the volunteer department head might need some help in the form of gophers. (I had experience here, too, having participated in tech theater in college. And you know, as a kid, due to my dad. But that’s another story.)
So he introduced me to Judy (head of volunteers, known as Ops) and we just … clicked.
She swears she heard an audible click in her head when we met. As if another piece of her just appeared back in the world and fit right back together. I just remember thinking, “This lady. I can be completely me around her. She is awesome. She is keeping track of the exterior chaos around her and she knows how to tug on this or that to make it all just click. And she’s keeping people happy while she does it! She also has a wicked sense of humor and I’m pretty sure I adore that.”
Sure enough, we got along wonderfully, and I even went back to the convention a couple times (it used to be an annual thing, as fan conventions often are), simply to spend time with Zork and her, and others I met.
That was in the late ’90s, and we’ve been friends ever since.
We love seeing each other when we can, even though we live over 300 miles apart. We make it a point to try to see each other every July 4th we can manage it, to go to a local art show near where I live. And I try to make it up where she is when I can, just to visit. We can go long periods without really talking, and click right back together when we get back in touch. We are able to bounce things off each other, and ask for honest feedback; whether those things are painful or ridiculously, wonderful, silly plans for gifts for mutual friends. We share a love of books, art, music, playing games with friends, cats, dragons, fairies, and pretty things. We especially bond over getting people to giggle and be happy.
I have an aversion to calling anyone a best friend, for reasons I still haven’t completely explored; but if I were to fall back into the habit, J’wyl is definitely a person who would fall into that category. I love her very much, and she is the bestest dragoness I know.
I hope you’ve had a wonderful birthday, my dear sweet friend, and that the year which follows brings you many happy returns!
I have two posts sitting in my Drafts folder right this moment talking about attraction. One of them laments the fact that I seem to occasionally fall for people with personality traits that I have a hard time working with. The other discusses physical types and whether or not I have one.
Both of them dance around my past experiences (and inexperiences).
I’m married, again. I’m happy. (Which is… so awesome. I have a hard time putting into coherent words how awesome it is.) I’ve been married before.
I have never, ever, in my whole life, dated lightly. I have flirted lightly, and attempted to be clear with my lack of actual intention in those cases.
I mull things over when I can’t sleep, you see.
Why do I not seem to have a specific “type” of guy that I’m attracted to? Mostly, they’re taller, but not always. (Plus, at just a smidge under 5’3″, being taller than me is hardly a challenge.) Some are very slender and graceful, others aren’t. Some are incredibly charismatic, others are almost painfully shy in large groups. Some see things in strict black and white truths, while others are more willing to discuss the complications that make different things true for different people. The only thing I can think of that most of the men I’ve been attracted to have in common is that when they smile, their eyes crinkle up at the corners, even if their lips move hardly at all. I like curiosity. I like intelligence. I like focus. I like empathy. I like kindness.
And yet, the women I’ve flirted with, well. Those are more type specific. Incredibly feminine curves. Pixie-cuts. Vibrant colors of hair. Extreme blondes. Deep chocolate red hair. Fire-haired goddesses. Women full of sass. Women who are not me. Not entirely my opposite, but definitely not me.
I grew up, at a certain point (let’s be honest, sometime around puberty) learning to fear other women, who seemed to see each other as competition for everything. Men, jobs, scholarships, the next thing. And yet, part of me wanted desperately to be able to be friendly with them. Or, on a few rare occasions, maybe more. I’ve gotten over the fearing part, and have even re-learned how to be friendly with women again.
The thing is, part of me still doesn’t quite trust the way I did as a kid. I want to, and for a while I do, especially new friends on-line. But in person? In person I see body language that suggests a dozen small fibs told, and my own walls go up to protect myself from getting hurt again.
If someone had asked 18 year old me if I’d be better at making friends at 42, I … think I would have said “I hope so, but … maybe not. It depends.” Because honestly, I’ve always been a thoughtful, honest, literal thing.
I want to be optimistic, but… at some point, some part of me always remembers the moments that someone I truly liked expressed how odd, wrong, and not attractive I was. So. It’s hard to share when I like someone, even for platonic reasons, now.
Which brings me back to being so happy in my current marriage: he encourages me to try. All kinds of things: things that are scary to me (athletic physical things! new jobs!); things that I liked once upon a time, but maybe let go (playing games with friends! drawing! writing! experimenting with baking!); and things that are both (going out and socializing and making new friends… inviting them to our home).
I may not be good at anything like that still, but I am still trying. And those two posts? Well. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll flesh them out better some other time. But I think this is the post that I’ve been trying to get out for the last couple weeks.
The world was all scribbles of inky blackness, at least in this little corner. Flashes of white and gray shone in between. As her eyes adjusted, she could see that the long arch ahead was a bridge. At the tangle near the bottom was the base, where the river bank was.
Because she felt lighter than usual, as though her tangle were unfurling, she made her way there, to see better.
Within the tangle at the base of the bridge support, once she looked, she could see other pockets of lighter colors. Stones tumbled from the pale gray dirt to lean up against the concrete wall. Another tangle of blues and blacks and grays and greens and a faint other color sat on the stone.
Because she was curious, she walked even closer.
The tangle on the rocks was a person. Long legs and arms covered in clothing that was still inky, but maybe colors. Jeans on the legs and green and gray sleeves on arms long for holding things. The person was looking away so she thought the tangle on top was hair. A curly mop of perhaps brown, perhaps red.
Because the shoulders were slumped, she walked even closer.
The curly tangle of hair was definitely red, although hard to see in the shadows. Under the bridge, her steps made a quiet echoing sound in the dirt and gravel around her. The person looked up and was a man with quiet guarded eyes. The eyes watched her, and then, softened. His shoulders were still slumped, but not at all imposing. Perhaps tired, or sad.
Because she wanted a friend, she stepped under the bridge beside him.
“Hello,” she said. “Can I have a hug?” And the man’s arms opened and she stepped into the inky tangle which lit up with warmth and light.