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The Unexpected Celebration

After a day packed with work and adulting beginning at 7am, I'm feeling a touch resentful as I make the 20 minute drive out to the local community college where I teach night ESL classes to immigrants. It's my birthday and I hadnt even gotten the chance to check Facebook. However, after I arrive and students start wandering in-- cheerful despite clearly being tired themselves--I force myself to at least fake enthusiasm. But, as we talk about life and cultures and rituals and prejudices and new beginnings, my weariness and resentment disolve. These people, many of whom had been working rough jobs since dawn that a.m., are incredible. One man I learn was a civil engineer in El Salvador and now busses tables to help support the five children his mother-in law left behind after she died unexpectedly. And there are more stories like this, each unique in its brand of perseverance. When they produce a cake and tamales at break, followed by a chorus of a deeply accented "Happy Birthday," I struggle not to cry. What a beautiful birthday, I realize, my heart filling with gratitude.

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