First post of 2014! Yaaaaaay!
I decided to write what I can remember from my past birthdays... because I love birthdays. If I know a co-worker's birthday, it goes on my calendar and I bake them something. It's just not a birthday without baked goods, dammit! The exception is my friend who is gluten/dairy/other-stuff-free, and I'm not brave enough to delve into that world of baking, yet. Luckily she's quite good at it so she makes stuff for herself. :)
But: BIRTHDAYS!! They were always a big deal in my family, so I love them. Not necessarily my own, but everyone else's. This morning I started thinking about past birthdays, and decided I have at least a few that were interesting enough to write about. I'd also love to hear stories of other people's birthday celebrations, so leave those in the comments if you'd like! Unless it involves barfing. I don't like barf stories.
I don't remember most of my childhood birthdays, of course. I do remember that when we lived on Guam, my neighbor was my best friend by default. She was exactly a year younger than me, and I had a crush on her older brother, who sometimes babysat for us. He wore leather pants, and that is almost all I remember about him... I was 4-6 when we lived there, so you can see my boy-craziness started super early (hell, I had a crush on my brother's best friend in Japan, and I was 3-4 there).
16: I was grounded for my 16th birthday, because I briefly ran an underground newspaper at my school. We'd just moved to this city and I saw some show on underground newspapers on MTV. Somehow I decided this was a GREAT IDEA! It didn't last long before my best friend wrote a nasty bit about a cheerleader she hated, and the cheerleader found out about it and reported the whole thing. I don't know how it ended up getting linked to us, but a few of us were caught, and I got 3 days of in-school suspension, a thorough yelling from my mom, and grounding. This was the most trouble I'd ever been in, and I cried so much and got so stressed out I barfed (oops, I said no barf stories!). My dad wasn't even home for my 16th birthday... at the time he was working in another city that was far enough away, he just came home on the weekends. My brother was in college. I got a phone for my bedroom (big deal back then) and I think a nightgown. Not really the big "sweet 16" you expect from movies and TV.
17: Senior year of high school! My brother and some of his friends came down for the weekend. I remember one of his friends was very nice to me the whole time, and all day kept telling me I could do what I wanted because it was my birthday. He opened doors for me and paid attention to me, and it was lovely and sweet. The boy I was dating was a fantastic artist, and drew me an awesome picture that he taped to a Wendy's tray he'd stolen (I think we ate there together or something - it had significance). I still have said picture and tray in a box in storage.
18: I know this one is supposed to be a big deal, too, but I don't really remember it. At my university, there was a fountain on campus with a little pool around it, a couple of feet deep. It was tradition to be thrown into the fountain on your birthday, and I believe I was thrown in twice that day. Two of my friends spotted me and scooped me up (an easy task, honestly - I think I was maybe 100 pounds at this age), dumping me in ceremoniously. As I was getting out, another friend - a guy I had a giant crush on because holy shit he was HOT - came along, saw us laughing and me dripping wet, and ran over to dump me in again. I didn't even care. HOT GUY PICKED ME UP.
19: They'd revamped the fountain so there was no longer a pool around it. Booo. Just fountain, and a surrounding area that dipped in the center and had lots of drains. My mom pestered my roommate and sent her some money to have a surprise party for me, but my roommate asked me who she should invite. The party was held at the university apartment that we all hung out at, all the time. Since the fountain pool was gone, the guys had filled one of the bathtubs, and dunked me in that. Somewhere there is a photo of me, laying fully dressed and laughing in a full bathtub.
20: Um. I don't remember. I was a junior, I was dating the guy who would become my husband and later my ex-husband. I think he took me to a nice dinner somewhere and we dressed up and he gave me a rose? He reads this blog. Maybe he remembers. I think this might have been the year one of my friends picked me up and ran through the fountain spray with me, in lieu of a dunking, which was hilarious.
21: I lived in a 3-bedroom duplex with 2 other girls, one of whom was awesome and the other of whom was insane (but we didn't know that yet). I'm phobic of cockroaches - not just "eek" but hyperventilating cannot deal oh god oh god. I can't even deal with pictures or drawings of them. CANNOT. DEAL. Mom says this goes back to an incident when I was a baby, but that's another story. Point is, the week before, one of the roommates mentioned to me she'd seen a roach in our garage, where our washer and dryer were. There I was, in the garage, doing my laundry and looking everywhere, scared and ready to bolt, when they MOTHERFUCKING CLOSED AND LOCKED THE GARAGE DOOR. I panicked. Completely lost my shit. I don't remember why I couldn't get to the big door to get outside, but I couldn't. By the time they opened the door to let me out, I had pulled down the attic ladder and was halfway up, intended to climb through and bust through someone's bedroom ceiling or something to get out. I was pissed as hell and terrified and crazy. Turns out, they'd locked me in there to let some of our friends in for a surprise party. *sigh* I was a bit embarrassed by all the yelling and door-pounding I'd done, not knowing there were people gathering in our living room with cake and Blue's Clues gifts.
I've learned that in Seattle, people do something called a "21 Run." Maybe they do it elsewhere, but I never heard of it before I came here. Basically the point is to get completely drunk, which doesn't sound fun to me anyway. My 21st birthday had the theme of a children's show I liked, and involved lounging about in my living room with friends. I think it was perfect.
22: By this time I was both married and separated from my husband. I was living in a double-wide trailer with 2 guys I'd worked with previously. They took me to dinner at Denny's or IHOP or something, and we had Monsters, Inc. hats and little party favors. I also drove up to see my parents for my birthday, and got pulled over (didn't get a ticket). This was just less than two weeks before I attempted suicide for the first time. Parrrtyyyyy.
23rd birthday, I have no idea. I was back together with my husband, but we were both unhappy. I guess we probably went somewhere... we lived in Colorado, that's all I remember.
24: Husband and I were separated again and definitely planning on divorce. I still sometimes joke that the divorce was my birthday present. I think I did something celebratory with my best friend at the time, with whom I stayed for a couple of weeks while I looked for my own place. She's a rad girl. Just over 2 months later I attempted suicide again.
25: I'd lived in Seattle for less than a week. My parents were upset I moved out of their house literally days before my birthday, but I was READY TO GO. I drove across the country with my cat, and was sleeping on the futon of a family I barely knew. Their wedding anniversary was the same day as my birthday. I think they had people over and I met their friends (many of whom I'm still friends with).
26: Living with college girls in a college town. We had a slumber party in our living room, watching 80's Brat Pack movies that, for the most part, they had never seen before. We got Little Caesar's Crazy Bread because that shit is THE BEST, and they got me a pint of my favorite ice cream. My boyfriend at the time was there, too, even though we had 2 dogs and 2 cats and he was allergic to all of those things. He went and got us donuts in the morning.
27th birthday, also a blur. No idea what I did. I know where I lived and where I worked, and that's pretty much it. My co-workers - there were 3 - surprised me with a cheesecake, not knowing that I don't like cheesecake. It was a nice gesture, all the same.
28: I think this is the year my co-workers (new job/company) all chipped in to get me an iPod Nano, knowing I'd been trying to save up for one. They decorated my cubicle, surprised me by singing Happy Birthday the second I walked in the door (I nearly had a heart attack), and a bunch of us went bowling. Afterward, some of us went back to Genie's apartment, where we got fairly drunk, played Wii, and attempted to make both cookies (disaster) and funnel cake (hilarious, and who doesn't like to cook with hot grease while drunk?). One girl got me flowers, saying every girl should get roses on her birthday. It was pretty much excellent. I can't remember if it was this year or the next that I also went to a hockey game with a bunch of folks and got my picture taken with the team mascot, telling him it was my 21st.
29: karaoke at my friend's bar. She was a bartender there and kept sending drinks over because she'd never seen me drunk. I would drink a little and then give them away. This was a really, really good birthday. Another friend whose birthday is the day before mine merged celebrations with me and so we had tons of people. Lots of fun, lots of friends, and one of the girls I met way back on my 25th birthday showed up because we hadn't seen each other in a while - and ended up meeting her future husband. *schmoopy*
30: Decade birthdays are worth making a big deal over. I invited pretty much every person I knew in the entire state to my "regular" bar for karaoke, instructing them to wear their pajamas. I'd just started a new job, and a couple of my co-workers showed up, which made me happy. People sang to me on stage and I got brownies and blew out candles and hugged a lot of people and it was delightful and good. A boy I'd sort of been seeing walked me home and kissed me (he was only brave enough to kiss me when he was drunk) and gave me a rose he'd made out of paper and a weird awkward card. He wanted me to spend the night but I looked at his twin bed and his single pillow and turned around and went home.
31: Basically the same as 30, but without pajamas. Someone gave me a bottle of nice rum that I still have because I drink at home that rarely. I met a guy that night that I ended up dating briefly. He was a total flake and I finally got sick of him canceling plans or simply not showing up, so that was that. I'm a sucker for curly hair, though. *sigh*
32: This was the year I realized 30 is when you stop celebrating birthdays in a huge way every year. A friend who was turning 30 the day before me wanted to combine parties, so we invited a lot of people to a bar, then migrated to the regular karaoke bar after. It was super fun, but the next day - my actual birthday - I was weirdly depressed and ended up drinking with a random weird dude I didn't know very well. Since it was my regular bar, I got my drink for free, but I remember feeling distinctly uncomfortable with this guy and deciding I didn't really want to be friends with him. He went on to date a friend of mine, and sure enough, he's a complete and total asshole who lies and picks fights and treats people terribly. Whee!
33: I went to a cabaret show with just a few friends, and one of my besties paid the performers to pull me up on stage halfway through. I was brought up with one performer, with whom I did a shot of vodka, and then I sat onstage while he danced around me in spandex zebra-print pants and a huge 80s hair-band wig, lip-synching. He got random guys from the audience to come up and play air guitar for me. One of them told me afterward it was his birthday as well, so he was happy to have been a part of it. It was pretty much the best thing. A week later, I took a solo vacation to New Mexico, which is hands-down one of the best decisions I have ever made in my entire life.
Which brings us to now, 34. Tumbleweed decorated the shit out of my desk at work, and I had dinner with Boyfriend and his kids. Quiet, simple, and awesome.
The nice thing about having done this list and thinking back on all of it is seeing how much has changed. I went from an awful, depressed existence, where suicide attempts were A Thing I Did; to some wonderful, vibrant, friend-filled true celebrations; to strongly independent, quiet, love-filled birthdays. There's something truly fantastic about that, which makes this a bit of a sappy post in the end, but fuck it - why not? What are birthdays (or thinking about birthdays, in this case) for if not considering how far you've come in life?
Now, seriously, I would love to hear other people's stories. Because, I don't know if I mentioned, I LOVE BIRTHDAYS!!