Thursday, September 24, 2015

Quarter Century

(written in the style of a 90s preteen chapter book)

"This was the best birthday I've had in a decade," I told L as we both finished our dinner and he headed to bed. "It felt nice to actually celebrate, deliberately celebrate, with a close group of friends who know me well." We were wrapping up our day at 6 PM and life was good.

My birthday has been something of a non-occasion for the past while. The last time I had a celebration was in 2009. It was a lovely gathering but, for the most part, it was with folks I barely knew at all (though, since have gotten to know).

Other years, I've been to scared to have anything happen. Generally, I'm afraid of admitting that I just might be worth celebrating, ya know, which is what birthdays are about.

The most frequent occurrence, since high school, is that I'm away someplace where no one knows me or people don't know it's my birthday and I don't feel like telling them or making a deal out of it. Last year, I worked a bit and then went and spent a night alone in a hotel in Juneau so I could catch a flight the next morning to my grandfather's funeral.

2008 - Seattle, Washington - Mom surprised me when a friend of mine came to take me to a musical - it was lovely
2009 - Arzier, Switzerland - gathering of sweet folks, but not anyone I really knew super well at that point (I did get to know two of them well afterwards, though)
2010 - Olympia, Washington - not a celebration, did get to see a close friend
2011 - Bowen Island, Canada - L'Abri - no celebration
2012 - Haines, Alaska - a friend made me a delicious dinner and dessert and we went on a hike
(this week, I was doing 72 hours of work an this week, in 2015, I'm working 67 hours)
2013 - England - L'Abri - they hummed "Happy Birthday to You" to me and I walked to someone's house to take a shower
2014 - Haines, Alaska - worked a bit then ferry to Juneau, night alone in hotel

So, not that it was totally forgotten, I've had some lovely birthdays - but I haven't had really had a birthday party with a group of folks I know well. I kinda wanted one.

This year I was twenty five.
This year I decided to do a thing and make a thing happen.
This year was different.

One part that made it different was that I finished up a 22 hour shift at 8 AM on the morning of my birthday and started working again, a 16 hour shift, at 4 PM. This gave me 8 hours to celebrate.

I invited a small group of friends to join me to celebrate for tea at the local tea shop I've grown up going to in the adjacent town.

To my delight, everyone could come except for three humans (work, too far away, dance camp).

Two of the humans that could come, I wasn't expecting to get to see at all! Audrey, at the time, was living in California so her being in Seattle was pure magic! Not sure how she worked it out, but I'm grateful.

There was also Kyle, who I hadn't seen sine last year. I tend to see Kyle once a year. This year, of all the days he could make it to Seattle for just one day, he made it to Seattle on my birthday. He even brought his sister (!) who I've been hearing about and wanting to meet for over four years. He normally lives in Africa.

Also attending was my brother Ian, Peter from dance, and Eric from elementary school.

The day started with L. L's the wonderful man I get to spend this weekend with. Generally, his daughter makes sure his needs are met but, when she's away, they have me step in to keep him company and make sure he's doing alright.

6 AM is our go-time. Then we had eggs.
8 AM and I was off.

I stopped by my folks' place and got to spend an hour with my mom. I even got to open presents with her! What a cool family I have. I love those humans. It was rather exciting to see her on my birthday. Last time I saw her on my birthday was 2008 or 2010. 2008, I think.

Then, Kyle and Katie, his sister showed up and we headed over to St. Ed's That park is one of my favourite places in the world. As tiny as my town is, it has this massive park with wonderful hiking trails. It was a good time to catch up and just be with Katie and Kyle. I got to meet Katie! Kyle has told me so, so much about her and I've been hoping to meet her for years. She was even more delightful and insightful than Kyle's descriptions. It was also really interesting to meet someone who really knows Kyle better than probably anyone else besides Kyle himself.

Following our little hike, we picked up Eric at the bookstore and headed over for tea.

Time was spent with chickens and in antique shop and soon, everyone was there.

Crikey. Everyone was there. They were there.
They got to meet each other.

There's something surreal about all of your worlds colliding. One of my greatest anxieties has been worlds colliding. I liked to keep life spaces separate and clean and tidy. I had my dance world, curling world, high school world, exchanger world, church world, etc. This year, I've been experimenting with introducing them to each other, letting them brush shoulders.

Cards were on the table with different questions. It was entertaining.
Ian and Peter at the beginning of their high tea.
By the end. Ian's look says it all.

Tea there was lovely, as it always is there. It's the sort of place where things are nice but you don't have to be 100% top notch nice at all. They let you be casual (which is good - because who can resist lemon curd with a spoon?).

Ian and Peter ended up getting high tea which means some five courses. They didn't pace themselves and ate what was served so, by the end, they barely had room for dessert. It was amusing watching their faces change from course to course as more food was brought.

I ended up having the cozy tea --- raspberry turkey tea sandwiches, lavender earl grey tea, salad, and a small assortment of desserts with a scone. It's definitely a full meal.

After that, we wandered, rode horses, chatted, and I was very, very happy.

There were lots of pirates running around for International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

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