So, I’m kind of a birthday person. I don’t really want to be, and I feel a little lame about it, but when February comes around I start thinking about my birthday a lot. What should I do; who should I be with; should there be a party? Then I feel like a self-obsessed idiot and try not to think about it. When I was younger I never wanted anyone to know how much my birthday meant to me, but I think I’ve come to terms with my birthday feelings. There’s nothing wrong with liking birthdays; they’re a perfect time to be grateful for the good things in your life and consider how you got where you are and think about where you’re going or would like to go. Plus, people who hate their birthdays are weird—it’s kind of like hating your own life.
This year I had one of the best birthdays I can remember. I was enjoying myself so much the whole birthday weekend that I did not update my mother enough and she resented me for it. So, here is a full play-by-play for my mom. And whomever.
I woke up on birthday morning to the kitchen sounds of roommate Jenny making me a mango pineapple smoothie, coffee, and steal cut oats with pomegranate seeds and whipped coconut cream.
First, kitchen sounds are the best thing to wake up to on a brisk and sunny birthday morning and every morning. Second, there is nothing better than Jenny’s pomegranate coconut oatmeal (tart, sweet, warm, and filling); except maybe mango smoothies. She’s the best roommate.
Then I went to work and tried to get something done besides reading happy friend texts. Mid-morning my friend Wendy showed up at my office with balloons attached to a caramel macchiato (which should be called a Wendy, as far as I’m concerned), a coffee gift card from her family, and a disruptive happy birthday song. Wendy is someone who will put a smile on your face all the time without even meaning to, so getting her surprise visit plus a sweet coffee treat plus balloons caused an unexpected joy overload.
For lunch I went to the best bakery in Texas, Lula Jane’s, with the group of ladies I get to have a girls’ night with about once a week. I’ve mentioned Jenny, Saayeh, Kate and Emily before, but there are more and they’re all hilarious and kind and interested in watching birthing documentaries accompanied by delicious snacks with gross-out, birth-themed nicknames (yeah, forget I said that). Most are artists of one kind or another, and I’m always incredibly impressed with their work (for example this, this, and this). I knew I probably wouldn’t get to see them that weekend, so I hoped that at least a few could come to a last minute lunch. Almost every single one came! They even brought me beautiful birthday flowers and a bag of presents including stamps and animal print socks. We laughed and ate vegetarian chili and took up way too much space.
Then I took a half day off from work so I could frantically prepare for my best friend Liz’s birthday weekend visit from Chicago! (That was a big reveal, if you didn’t catch it. Liz came to Texas for the first time since college!!) Since I had to go pick her up from the faraway airport late that night, a few friends kindly joined in my excursion and we went out for a nice birthday dinner in Dallas before Liz landed.
The group that came (the Dahms, DeAnn, Ryan, and Luke) went to Austin for a fancy dinner celebrating Andrea’s birthday this fall and have been making dinners, so it seemed very right to go eat a very good meal together. Andrea came in my room when I was getting ready to leave and tried to take a birthday outfit shot that I kept ruining with awkwardness. It’s a gift.
So, six people chose to ride in one car. Sorry mom.
I’m not exactly sure that’s legal. Rather, I’m exactly sure that’s not legal. Please don’t tell. It was for the good of the earth; and our conversation. The drive up consisted of absurd jokes, invented acronyms, philosophical conversation regarding Cormac McCarthy novels that I ignored, and birthday wish pronouncements. Typical. Several of my wishes were actually fulfilled that very evening. Several were not. (We did survive with that many people in car, we did get to the restaurant on time, we did not get all of our meals free because it was my birthday, etc.) The three adult males who rode with four people total in the back seat were pretty happy to get out of the car when we finally made it to Dallas.
My best friend from college, Hutch, and her husband Steven live in Dallas so they came to birthday dinner too! They love good food and good conversation, so they bonded instantly with the Waco contingent. Plus, it’s not every birthday that you get double best friends time; especially when they live in Dallas and Chicago.
We went to Boulevardier because it is French, in my favorite Dallas neighborhood (Bishop Arts), and had good seafood options on the first Friday of Lent. The food was delicious, as were the drinks; it’s a cool place; and our server was patient with us. I recommend it.
It was one of the best meals. The food, drink, conversation, and people were all perfect. After we ate, our server brought me out a free birthday glass of champagne, magically granting part of my free stuff birthday wish!
Then we went across the street to another Bishop Arts gem, Emporium Pies, where we had birthday pie and coffee before heading out. We somehow managed to demolished slices of deep dish caramel apple and strawberry rhubarb pie after that rich dinner. Brandon and Steven bonded over a Chemex love fest and I felt very lucky to be surrounded by the people and pies that I was surrounded by.
We then said our goodbyes to Hutch and Steven and headed to DFW to pick up Liz. I hadn’t exactly warned her of what she was getting into and everyone asked how she was going to handle being thrown in a crowded car for two hours with a bunch of strangers immediately upon arriving in Texas after a work day in Chicago. I said that she would probably just roll with it. She did.
She also just rolled with my car refusing to start at the airport because my battery was dying. It was the absolute worst timing ever, and was both the worst and best moment of the trip. It could have been horrible, and was, but was also hilarious and made for a more extended friends getting to know friends time. We sat there waiting for someone from airport security to come help us for almost an hour. DeAnn and Liz talked about teaching high school; Andrea and Liz talked about fancy pajamas; Luke and Liz talked about gardens; Brandon and Ryan stood in the cold, waiting for help. I just kept saying I couldn’t believe Liz was really in Texas and that I couldn’t believe my car was dead. Eventually Ryan went into what we call hero mode and started going around asking if anyone picking up travelers had jumper cables. Within a few minutes he had gotten a cab to give us a jump and we were on our way. Ryan Hero Mode > Airport Security.
On the way home Brandon asked what this new year of life will hold for me and I didn’t know how to answer. DeAnn and I have talked about 2013 being The Year of Casting the Net Wide as I’m now 28, have lived in the same small city for almost a decade, have a master’s degree and a good job, but still don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up. But after only two months into 2013, that wide net seemed like something treacherous I got tangled in. So, talking with some of my favorite people in the whole world all shoved in one car, we determined that it would be better to call 28 The Year of Discernment. I can’t go in every direction at once, which I often try to do, so it’s time to figure out which direction I want to go in so I can actually start moving. Realizing this with a weekend of Liz time ahead of me was ideal. I’ll tell you why soon in a post all about her visit.
My birthday ended somewhere on I-35, crowded by people I love.