When my friend Kir was studying in Japan junior year, a small child stopped in his tracks upon seeing her, pointed, and screamed "WHAT? Is THAT??" Kir is a beautiful woman who might stop traffic in any country. But she is also about 6 ft tall and blonde, her Norwegian good looks perhaps a wee bit out of place in that part of Japan.
I was in Northern England studying abroad at the time, drawing attention for my "Oriental" face and "Yankee" accent. Our letters back and forth related the highs and lows of being so far from home. The courage it took, especially for Kir living with a Japanese family, to face every situation not knowing if she was being understood or accepted, touched me deeply.
When we returned to our all-American college campus we picked up where we left off with a group of friends Kir called "the Asian Beauties." Walking down the street Kir stood head and shoulders above us and would cheerfully remark "I look like a tour guide!" In pictures, Kir, always in flat shoes, slouched a bit to fit in.
Well, Kir just celebrated her 40th birthday with a 1920s Casino Night costume party. And, in her sparkling ivory dress and pearls, high up in her heels with her hair shimmering gold...she glowed. She glowed with happiness and confidence, surrounded by her friends, family and colleagues, reflecting all of our love and admiration for her.
This is what 40 should look like. The fruition of all the care she has poured into her relationships, her family, her work - all around her for all to see. The ability to stand tall and proud, in any crowd, and simply shine.
Happy birthday, dear Kir. Happy birthday to you!