i used to be huge on birthdays – when i was on the sillier end of my teenaged years i would bounce around in excitement whenever it vaguely approached september and start thinking about what presents i would like to buy myself – because that is the kind of person i am, the kind that needs an excuse to justify indulgent purchases. as i got older birthdays seemed to be a bit of an embarrassing occasion that i’d sweep under the rug hoping no one noticed – this has nothing to do with a fear of getting older, indeed, I’ve said on multiple occasions that one of my life goals is happily hitting thirty, excited for all that the thirties stand for (presumably having yr shit together, making peace with who you are and being happy about it, financial stability..). instead i think it has something to do with our social conditioning that birthdays should be a big deal and therefore i feel this pressure to make it a big deal or be something of a failure and so i kind of just hope no one notices the day approaching so i can quietly endure it and then say oh ha ha it came and went and i didn’t even notice.
but of course that in itself is indulgent. and my personal idiosyncrasies with regards to my birthday have nothing on the fact that every year i have come to realise with more and more wonder and gratefulness that i am incredibly blessed to have some of the best, most precious people in my life by strange co-incidence or Godly design. and when times are getting tough, and boy they have been, it is this knowledge that keeps me warm and fuzzy and whatnot inside.
i am also someone, i have come to realise (is 23 the year of self-awareness?), that likes to play down my relationship. rather: i have strong feelings about hollywood’s hierarchy of relationships, that is to say, ROMANCE OVER EVERYTHING ELSE!!!! and so i have always held my friendships close and been proud of it, not having turned into someone who let either part of my life overshadow the other, romantic or platonic. but very, very occasionally i let myself publicly admit that i am also thankful for the very wonderful man that is in my life, who is just as precious to me as the girlfriends i’d give my life for, and i suppose today is one of those times.
this year he and one of my closest girlfriends, georgina, someone I’ve referred to as my soulmate on multiple occasions if youre a reader from back in 2009, organised a very touching and extravagant thing for me which was completely mortifying and which i obviously loved every bit of. i had to go to uni that morning which meant waking up at 6am (fml) and then attend a staff meeting because #professionalism but which i was secretly a bit salty about because my favorite thing in the world is SLEEPING and SLEEPING IN comes a close second and i had very little of either on my birthday. and so i met the boyfriend right after that at ~undisclosed location~ and one of the first things i said was after lunch is it ok if we go and just curl up somewhere and take a nap and he said is that what you really want for your birthday and i said jeez shane when a girl tells u what she wants…
and i dont mean to be sexist or gender-conformative but obviously i do not know what i want because whatever he and G planned turned out to be so much better than sleep although i suffered a hangover from hell for about four days after the event!!
we went to ocean restaurant by cat cora for lunch which turned out to be previously mentioned ~undisclosed location~ and i got very excited because i did not know you could do this, have fancy food and wine and stare at fishes all day. His rationale was that he thought it was a good idea since i just got my diving license and therefore must like fish and while that’s not too far off from the truth the bit that got me the most excited was that i could see some major MANTA RAY action and omg the smiley faces on the bottom of manta rays give me life.
after that he gave me tickets to gv gold class: bridget jones baby (“the trashiest movie i could find because u r very trashy and mainstream right??”) which he had pre-ordered food and wine for and I looked at him and said shane this is very sweet but why did u think it is a good idea to order so much food and wine when we were coming straight from a five course lunch??? and he said sometimes i make mistakes ok?? so that was that.
after the movie i was basically falling asleep standing (see above re: waking up at 6am for school) and so i said this day has been GREAT i have a good idea lets go home and sleep and he said cannot i have already made dinner reservations.
Following that we had one of the most ridiculous conversations of my life which in retrospect i find hilarious and also feel kind of sorry for shane for.
me: shane why are we going for dinner
shane: its dinner time
me: but we just had two consecutive meals
me: and we hardly touched any of the food you ordered at gv
shane: but.. its time for dinner see the reservation is at 7pm which is in an hour by then we should have digested some food so we can eat
me: no no eating a lot is your idea of a birthday not mine mine is sleep
me: ok shane if u love me please know that what i need most in my life right now is sleep so pleaseeee can we just go home and take a nap
me: I’m falling asleep standing up
shane: (in retrospect he must have been scrambling to come up with an excuse on the fly)
shane: or we could go for dinner
me: did you plan something with my friends is that why you are standing in between me and my sleep
shane: no la. ok la. actually. i pre-ordered and paid for dinner already thats why. there was a groupon for this russian restaurant. and it looked soooo good in the pictures. so maybe we can just go and try a little bit of everything and then go back? you dont have to finish it!
me: ohhhhh what a planner
shane: thats me
me: ok i guess we should at least show up and try it. russian you say? whats the name of the restaurant?
shane: shashlik. its on niven road.
me: ok lets take an uber there
shane: or a train
me: u must be joking its my birthday I’m taking an uber
so I called an uber and basically completely knocked out the minute we got in. i woke up to him shaking me awake saying jem we are in trouble
me: omg I’m awake. whats happening
shane: ha ha i dont know where the restaurant is
me: what do you mean u dont know where it is??? check the website!!
shane: good idea
we got off the uber, him scrolling through his phone, and me mentally debating the pros (sensitive, romantic, can understand your life) vs cons (not very practical) of dating an arts boy.
finally he went: i cant find the email. lets just walk down and see if we can find it. (in my head: or we could go home and sleep…)
So we did the long walk down niven road which actually isn’t that long, but i was very sleepy. And there was no russian restaurant!! none!!! We did pass by this place called The Music Salon which is kind of like this event space and i wanted to go in because i’d actually taken a handwriting class there before and wanted to show Shane the space. But when we walked past we heard someone yowling inside and so i assumed they were having an event and we didn’t go in..
After we had walked the length of niven road i turned to him and said shane i think you might have bought a scam groupon that doesn’t exist I’m so sorry
and he went: yes thats what i was thinking too 🙁
And he looked so sad!! That i was like ok la never mind lets just walk back and try to catch a cab ok?? Then we can go and take a nap. As u can tell i really needed my sleep.
So as we were walking back to the main road we passed the music salon again and it was quieter this time and he said why dont you just pop your head in and look since you wanted to see it earlier?
me: dont want la later got event going on very paisei one
shane: nevermind la just look only what
So I opened the door and poked my head in and there on the floor eating chips was our friend martin hong and my soulmate georgina pang. And i turned to shane and said hey look! it’s martin and georgina. And then my second thought was walao eh martin must have invited georgina to some indie music performance without me fine lor. And then before I could process that thought, I heard someone (Roz) scream OH MY GOD GET OUT. And then i felt myself being unceremoniously ejected from the venue.
While i was standing outside the place wondering why they didn’t want me at their music performance (for context: we have a lot of friends who play gigs and so i NATURALLY assumed that martin who is a filmmaker had either agreed to attend one of our friend’s private gigs or was using the space for one of his shoots and just didn’t tell me) someone yelled OK U CAN COME IN and shane nudged me and i pushed the door open and it was completely dark with fairy lights EVERYWHERE and there was this set up of food and drinks on the carpeted floor and black and white balloons floating around and on one side of the room there was a screen on which a projection of this slideshow was playing. And on the slideshow there were various pictures of shane and i through the years (nearly three years now) and i turned to him and said u better not be proposing to me because i am not ready for that shit.
And he stared at me and said no dont worry it is just your birthday
AND THEN IT HIT ME.
It was my birthday!! They were doing this thing called a birthday surprise! I dont know why year after year i still dont grasp these things if and when they happen but i am glad because somehow it always fills me with renewed excitement and wonder. Georgina had this entire sound system set up and she emceed the opening of my surprise party, making me guess who else was there by having them recite out a personal memory in a fake voice from behind a curtain. As u can imagine this was a disaster because all of them gave totally obscure memories that i highly suspect were fake. The one person that i did get right though, gave this: I AM THE DEVIL YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE
And i was like, roz is that you?
I was so happy!!! It was the best thing ever because so many of my dearest friends were there in the same place – they even got fred in via giant projector-screen skype where he ran out of his workplace in london pretending that he had to pee or something. The ones who weren’t there were on night-shift at their various jobs which cant be helped and then more people came even later at night so that was ACE. And so we had a night of ridiculous randomness because half of them were musically trained and so decided to terrorise the neighbourhood with a musical rendition of disney’s beauty and the beast, probably causing the owners of the music salon to regret ever installing a piano there.
my eyes are closed in nearly all the pics because see above re: falling asleep. but happy!
and i thought that was the sum of it, but i was wrong. they only had the place till 10pm, so after that instead of deciding to all disperse for the night to get some sleep as normal human beings do, they booked a freaking party bus (one of those things with DISCO BALLS in them) and we were all ferried to Ultra Super New for birthday party part II.
the timing was actually really propitious because they were actually having a party there already celebrating something that we could not really understand, only that the organisers of the party were friends of a friend (or now: friends) and so cheerfully invited us to crash and make of it what we would. And we did indeed:
ok those re supposed to be gifs but i dont know how to get them to play so never mind. Just imagine them moving.
It was incredible.
At the end of the night it was no longer night but actually more like 3am and we were all dying of exhaustion because all of us had regular (or not so regular? but still existing) day jobs and we were not made to party any longer because we are getting old.
But it was amazing. It is not so much that these occasions show me the precious people that I have around me. They have been there, and will continue to be. I have always loved and appreciated them with or without fancy parties with lights and balloons and psychedelic machinations. It is more that these occasions, as we all get older, give us space to all come together. And okay, fine. They are pretty freakin amazing, these friends, their hearts, and their warmth and generosity and kindness that have lit up my life from within. And what is a birthday but yet another year to give thanks for the love that has been shown me? Nothing at all.
Thank you my loves. And with that: I am now twenty four. x