Four days passed and I am a year older. I made my wish, blew my candles and ate my cake with a cup of rose tea.
I am now 27. It was never the age that scared me, it was the day. Me and birthdays do not get along well. I love other people’s birthdays; I dread my own. It seems that the main fear is the memories; good and bad. The things you want to forget and the things you try to remember.
However, this was a lovely one. It started the night before, with a balloon on a purple string, hidden under a table. When someone tells you to close your eyes, you do no really expect to see a Happy Birthday floating on the air, and a black bag on the table. L is one of my closest friends and one of the few people that has moved me to tears, something she did again with this gift. Mainly because of the thought she put behind it: from the tissue (purple), to the wrapping paper (Kraft), to the expertly executed ribbon (have I mentioned she is an expert in arts and crafts?), to the contents: her favourite book; and a self-published book, with extracts of our text conversations (a selection of them, as there are enough to fill a tome).
What really touched me though was the message behind the book; L knows how very judgemental I am about my writing, and it was a gentle push to move forwards when you are standing still. On the last page, she had a truly inspiring quote, that of course served as the last frontier between my tears and the outside world.
Later that night, on the roof of a building in the middle of London, we (me, L and my partner) sat in complete darkness looking at my balloon escaping in a sky lit by the city lights. She told me to make a wish, and I did. On the way home, I got a text from E, another very close friend, wishing me a happy birthday in advance, as she was a step away from the REM phase. I could imagine her saying that, sitting on the sofa with her eyes closed and typing, as she did when we lived together. I missed her, but she made me smile.
At 12:00 that night, my partner wished me a happy birthday, we watched tv, and then rushed to bed, so that I can wake up and open my gifts!
I got up with another ‘happy birthday’, went in the living room, and sat on the sofa. I talked with my dad. My partner was inside, wrapping the presents in paper with dogs wearing party hats and sunglasses. I loved my gifts (I got a Lomokino -with a viewfinder-, fancy chocolates, and a card with a badge on the front, that I wore all day).
He made my cake while I was dancing in the living room to music I forgot I liked, and then got out. We wondered around Southbank, and we ate Krakauten and Currywurst in the German Christmas Market. We then crept in the BFI mediatheque, and saw Quentin Crisp (a new hero) both as a character (in The Naked Civil Servant) and as a person (in his interviews before he became famous). We then swapped the cold with the warmth of our home, eating cake and drinking tea, and taking a lovely nap.
Afterward, we got ready (physically and mentally) to meet my mom. There is a lot of emotional baggage there, and I am slowly letting go of parts of the past that hurt. She came to London with her partner, and my brother took us to Brawn, a lovely restaurant in Scoreditch (full review coming soon). It was genuinely heartwarming to see her, and I had a lovely time.
After eating little portions and paying large bills, we headed out. We went home, and I was happy. Then 12:00 passed, and it was no longer my birthday. I sat in front of the TV, had two glasses of diet coke and a bar of chocolate, and then slept.
I am giving up the notion of the perfect birthday, and birthdays become perfect. I am letting go of traditions and creating new ones. I am not who I was, because I became the person I am. 27 years old, and I still do not know who I am. Thank God for that.