Today is my 31st birthday and it was a pretty good day. I looked cute - I wore the transitional skirt I bought last month with a brown v-neck T and my brown wedge heels that have a velvet flower motif - and it was a good hair day, although I had a few break-outs thanks to my facial from Saturday night.
The commute to work was not so good though - our offices moved from midtown to downtown while I was away on vacation so what used to be a 20-35 minute drive to work depending on the traffic is now a 25-35 minute drive to the subway parking lot, followed by a 10 minute walk to the station and about an hour's ride on the train to my office, which is, thankfully, right upstairs from my stop. That's right folks - my commute has tripled and while I was actually looking forward to the commute initially because I had time again to read the morning paper, I am now officially over it and it is the bane of my existence.
Anyway. I got into work around 9am and about 15 minutes in, my group gathered round me for a "meeting" at which time they presented me with my birthday gift - a gift bag full of fun (and purple!) dollar store finds - de rigeur on my team. I then checked my email and was greeted with, among other messages, a lovely e-card from my cousin, A, in London. We had made a date earlier in the week for a long chat Sunday afternoon, but her friend arrived unexpectedly for a visit from Amsterdam so she called me earlier that morning to tell me. We talked for a few minutes and she never fails to crack me up - "We don't want to draw attention to getting older, but we'll be hot when we're 60 so it doesn't matter anyway."
I was all set to have a very low-key birthday this year when my friend J, who I've grown apart from the last couple years, called me out-of-the-blue last week to ask if I had any plans to celebrate my birthday. He wanted to take me out for a drink, and then took it upon himself to co-ordinate with everyone else - which is extraordinary since it's usually my job to get everyone together.
In hindsight, I suspect it's because his girlfriend was still abroad - we, the friends, don't like her, the girlfriend, very much. She's...different...and when he's with her, he's different. So we all got together for dinner and drinks at The Rushton last Friday and it was fun. J was very much like the old J that we knew and loved, and R brought his new girl out for us to meet. She seemed super-sweet and friendly and we all liked her...so it got me thinking why none of us seemed to like V, J's girl very much, when we've all liked R's last two girlfriends...could it be because J settled? There's much back story here that I shan't get into, but I suspect that has a lot to do with it. He mentioned that he's shopping for a ring so he's well on his way to following his lifescript.
He drove me to my car afterwards and we sort of talked about it...we're nowhere near as close as we used to be and I wonder if he's making a mistake because I never imagined him with someone like her - that is, someone I didn't like - but he seems content in his relationship and who am I to question him now when I haven't been present in his life, nor he in mine the last few years?
I'm usually hit by a bout of the birthday blues in the weeks leading up to today because I take stock and reflect on my life to date...I wonder about the choices I've made and where I'm headed...and this year, the blues haven't been so blue.
When I think about it, I've had a full year, despite the ups and downs: I'd like to think that I'm more accepting about the things I can't change and I'm learning to let go because sometimes it hurts to hold on. I'm fortunate and grateful for the family and friends in my life, and I value the experiences they have brought to me - like hiking the Inca Trail and camping for the first time ever. Who would've thunk that that would ever happen? I'll leave the self-reflection at that...and turn now, to one of my favourite subjects - FOOD!
It's been my wish the last few years to have dinner at home. My mom and Uncle N. are great cooks and they never fail to serve up a fantastic seafood feast on my birthday. On tonight's menu was Vancouver crab, clams, oysters, prawns, fish, chicken, and one of my favourite soups, literally called "monk jumps over the wall" in Cantonese, because the story goes that the vegetarian monk was so tempted by the lovely aroma of the soup that he jumped over the wall to taste it. My mom's version of this soup had chicken, pork, conpoy, shark fin, dates, shitake mushroom, conch and ginseng. And damn was dinner ever good!
My mother asks if I'd like to invite friends over to join us, but I always decline because there is no need for my friends to see me eat like a savage. My sister and I are big on crab and when we're all together for dinner, we're usually the last ones at the table, sucking out the last bit of crab meat. My brother's too lazy and impatient for crab but he gave good game tonight - "I don't want you to have all the crab." Isn't he such a sweeite? I wasn't completely savage today though - while my left hand was greasy with crab sauce, my right hand held my chopsticks, which is quite the improvement from my experience last year. So while I may not necessarily be wiser with age, I'm at least a neater eater.