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  • Writer's pictureElijah Ricks

Numbing the Pain

The tragic dance of life continues as I complete yet another pass around the center of our solar system. My family did all that they could to help ease my transition into being 34. Kira let me sleep in and then took the kids to pick up some groceries while I took my time getting ready for the day, and relaxing a bit. When they got home, Hakan slept, and I fed the kids and opened my gifts. Carver got me an awesome Hot Wheels truck. I don’t necessarily care much for toy trucks these days, but I know how much he loves them, so I was very moved by his thought to get me something that is so cool to him. Avey made me a “Birthday Boy” crown out of yellow paper, and so I wore that most of the day. Kira, along with some wonderful gifts of things I needed, was very kind in taking over many of my daily chores. I also had some kind and generous gifts through the mail and email, and some delightful phone calls from far away places and people.

For the day’s festivities, Kira talked me out of moping around all day. Instead, I thought the kids might enjoy experiencing a little of my daily commute experience. We went to ride the train into the city. On Saturdays, the train comes infrequently, so we prepared for a specific time, and headed to the station. I should have thought ahead better, though, because the ticket office was closed, leaving us to purchase our tickets on the train, but they take only cash. Kira and I rarely carry cash. The train was due to come in about 4 minutes, so I ran frantically from business to business asking if they do cash back or have an ATM. No luck. I gave up and went back to the station, knowing that we had 2 hours until the next train would come. I checked my watch to see that the train was late, and decided to make one last attempt to make this work. I ran across the tracks (legally) and found a Walgreens with an ATM. I made it back just in time to get us all on the train and into the city.

The train was the most packed I had ever seen since we moved here. Apparently everybody in the suburbs decided to celebrate my birthday with us. Kira and the kids found some seats while I tried to keep our enormous double stroller out of everyone’s way. Somehow, we made it to Chicago intact.

Every day I cross the bridge next to the train station and look down at the river taxis in the water, and I think, “Jeepers, I bet the kids would have a swell time riding on that!” So I wanted to be sure they got to. We found one just about to leave on a 15-minute trip, so we plopped in for a leisurely boat ride through the city. We went under several bridges, and it was a unique view of all of the skyscrapers from a river in the middle of Chicago. We all agreed afterward that the boat was our favorite part. Hakan even kept us all entertained with his “OOOooh”s and “WOOOAAAH”s, while often waving at people walking by or in other boats, “HIIIeeee!”

We then rode back to the train station on a bus to complete the circle of public transportation available, but missed our train home by about 60 seconds. It turned out to be okay, because we were then able to feed Hakan his meal and Carver got a good nap, passed out in the stroller.

On the ride home, I ordered a deep dish pizza (compliments of my siblings), which we then picked up on the way home from the station. After getting Hakan in bed, we then all settled in to watch Pixar’s Inside Out, even letting Avey and Carver stay up past their bedtime. It was a delightful film: fun for the whole family. 

It was about as good as a birthday can be at this age – we made good memories as a family (and ate a lot of chocolate cake). Here’s to another great year!


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