In two weeks, I will have been in orbit around the sun for 40 years. I love my birthday. LOVE IT. Like each person, it is a personal holiday celebrating one’s arrival in this world. It’s wonderful and exciting and should feel like sprinkles on ice cream and puppy kisses.
But with all the epic-ness I feel about my birthday, it is hard to celebrate as an expat. Firstly, because so many of my loved ones are thousands of miles and an ocean away. Secondly, because I’m not a big drinker and Irish parties are usually 12-hour long homages the distilling and fermentation process. Lastly, I like my sleep a lot, so I find it challenging to achieve the perfect balance of friends/cake/presents/festivities while still preserving an early bedtime.
So, when most people imagine a birthday party here in Cork City, there is music and drinking and dancing and some food.
I’ve been to plenty of parties like that so when I say they’re not my thing, it is because I’ve tried them and don’t like the taste. Kinda like how I don’t like eggplant even after trying it cooked in different ways. But just like when someone serves me eggplant, I eat it. So, when a good friend is having a party, I go. But when I attend a party where people are drinking a lot, I usually duck out after
four three two hours, because I’m tired and foresee more of the same when I could instead be at home…in a quiet room alone. Introverts out there, you understand what I’m say, right? Plus, I have a kid, so sleep is more precious than champagne to me.
I’ve had a few perfect birthday celebrations and many other really nice ones, my 8th (lunch with friends at the House of Magic), my 16th (Halloween party with all my friends and family), my 17th (New Year’s Eve when I made an individual cheesecake for each 30 friends), my 21st (lunch with my 20 closest friends and pear ganache cake), and my 30th (my parents flew 2,500 miles to surprise me and friends surprised me at DishDash) were particularly nice. Some had 10 friends, others had upwards of 30. You know what all those perfect birthdays had in common? Friends and family. It isn’t about the cake or the drinks or the venue, it’s about who is there to mark the milestone. The presents are nice too (sorry, I know admitting that is so gauche).
But drunken nights out still wouldn’t be ideal since my favorite people know me well enough to realize I’d be sooooooo bored. And I’m such a lightweight. Two drink minimum? Ha! After two drinks, that’s me leaning over in the corner taking a nap there.
Basically, on a night out in my post-baby post-liver tumor body, I drink one drink per hour with a maximum of four for the evening. So, at some point everyone is getting more drunk and I’m maintaining a pleasant buzz and probably getting hungry/tired (and wishing I had brought my knitting). There comes a point when I shift to mom again (like Cinderella at midnight) then I begin to worry who is going to get sick or trip on something.
So, how do I celebrate my 40th birthday without just drinking beer, shots, and cocktails for a whole evening? I mean, drinking can be any night. Seriously, I live in a city and I see drunk friends partying it up every weekend. I salute their livers.
Which leaves me with limited options since the masses want to drink. Can I make tea parties the next big birthday trend for adults?
What non-drinking big birthday parties have you held?
Do you feel melancholy about milestones as an expat far away from loved ones?