A Surprise Birthday Celebration

We find out today that it is Yana’s birthday. Yana, a Pacific Rim Park alum, has joined us from her home in Russia. We decide that we must celebrate!


After a big push at the site, we gather together outside. The night is balmy. The humidity hints at rain. Thick  clouds conceal the moon, and the winds haven’t picked up yet so our celebration does not feel in immediate jeopardy.


We surprise Yana with a beautiful cake and some famous Yantai wine. Everyone joins in a toast to her, and we joyfully engage in a moment of sweetness. Someone corrals a guitar and a ukulele. Nicael, Sam, and Tanner take turns strumming the instruments and we all gather around  to listen. Yana tells me that this is the second birthday she has spent at a Pacific Rim Park build. Her last birthday with PRP was in Kaohsiung, and she feels she has been reflecting about her time there ever since.


We begin to share how long everyone has been connected to Pacific Rim Park.Some of us have been involved for three or four years, others fifteen, and some over twenty. Still, for many here in Yantai, this is their first experience in the  Pacific Rim family. We realize, seeing many different generations of Pacific Rim Park together, that our amicable musical group tonight represents only a sliver of the human connections — real friendships — that support this project.


We sit closely together through the night, singing whatever songs we can remember together. From a distance we appear as almost one entity. Cloaked by the muggy clouds, we connect to one another like roots beneath a cloud-tree. We are a new living network that erupts spontaneously in laughter, songs, and dance.


We will cherish this night, and the moments together, for they are the best gifts of all. Our time together wanes as the moon waxes We can’t think about this  too long and grow melancholy because we have far too much finish work still to do. We sing our songs in joyous gratitude for the space and time we have been given together, and we collect new memories to remind us of the unwavering community that we now belong to.