Celebrating. I’m totally into it! I love making a big deal out of events, for me and for the people around me. A while back I had this really great connection with someone who didn’t celebrate due to his religious beliefs. “It didn’t matter” I’d say. “I’m open minded” I’d tell myself. “Get real” my friends and family would plead. “You celebrate jumping over a rock and this guy can’t acknowledge or celebrate a thing” they exclaimed. Fair call. So, I never stopped celebrating and this year I got to celebrate one milestone many times. My 30th. The first birthday I’ve been completely apprehensive about. The birthday that put many challenges in front of me, but that surprised me greatly.
Let’s begin at 29 years, 11 months and 15 days.
Back in the big city, I was excitedly on my way to catch up with a beautiful bunch of girls I went to uni with… and ta daa, morning tea had a twist and a big 3-0 on the cake. So very surprised and feeling a bit indulgent really.
I then began my week of treating myself. I was super worried that none of my 30th plans were coming together and party planning was normally one of my great loves. It was just feeling so difficult and uninspiring to be planning from afar. I decided that maybe what 30 was to me was celebrating me. You know, solo me. That’s what I was and that’s the reality that I didn’t think I’d be facing as I numerically became more mature (haha). You’re 16 and you think you’ll be married with kids, a house, pets and a pretty cosy life by now. 30 used to seem old. Now I look at 16 and think…’oh, if only you knew how much cooler I am than you’. If no one had bought me a ring and I hadn’t spent my day as a princess yet, then I was going to do it for myself. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride kind of thing (except I’ve never been a bridesmaid). My forever friend ‘Share Bear’ came up with the idea of a Somewhere Over The Rainbow party theme where I could be bright, just like I love to be, and also where I could put my dreams out there. Maybe this was the new chapter. I was finally inspired and two special girls from my small town helped me to get the ideas flowing. We planned two events. A fancy, flirty thirty style party in my big city and a dirty thirty weekend getaway to an island off the coast of my small town. Party hard! The problem was that people can be unreliable. Not always intentionally but an invite isn’t as sacred a thing anymore, what with the likes of a simple Facebook ‘yes, no or maybe’ button. Day by day I felt disappointed as people bailed on both events. I felt pretty dejected about it but I was also quietly determined that 30 was about my happiness. I needed to change my focus from the higher priorities of others to my priority – me. I got my hair and nails done, booked in for hair and make-up before my party and…well, a spray tan never hurts. It was so fun and I felt fantastic!
Amongst all this birthday busy-ness I was also realising that something about how I was feeling was amiss.
But, carrying on…The party was a chaotic mix of getting around chatting to everyone and pure happiness. I’d forgotten what it was like to be the star. I enjoy it a little too much but it meant the time flew and I almost couldn’t remember the night. That’s what photos and my reflective personality was for though. I was so overjoyed at the mix of people who came along. Long time friends, old and new workmates, parents of children I’ve taught, family and just a great mix of mates. Some who I see a lot, some not as frequently. This qualified my thoughts from my previous post. Friends come in all sorts of packages. I don’t think there is a need to discount a single one, unless they are toxic to a happy life. I was the princess I wanted to be. There is just nothing in this world like feeling great within yourself. I don’t often feel that in a physical sense so I celebrated and definitely walked in my sparkly silver heels with my head held high. And a definite sway of the hips.
That nagging feeling of wavering happiness within me just wouldn’t budge though. I was dreading leaving my big city again. The place where my heart was. My heart was worried, even amidst a wonderful celebration, I was anxious of the end.
I extended the birthday love for the next week, got to share my brother’s birthday with him and had a lovely movie day with rainbow cupcakes from the amazing group of girls I taught with at my first school. Then I was back off to the small town. It was impossibly hard and all those worries hit hard. The first time in life where I was really worried about myself. I didn’t feel like me at all. It didn’t make sense because look at all the happy around me but I was completely shaken and scared of spending the actual 3-0 day by myself. How lucky am I to have not spent a birthday away from my family. It was just going to make this one tricky.
The dirty thirty weekend away was creeping closer and, as expected, the ‘I can’t make it’ phone calls and texts came in thick and fast. My wallet was scared because I’d already paid for everyone. But… This is where the surprises started to surprise me!
* I enjoyed a great pre-birthday night with a new friend who completely understands me before I do.
* I started my birthday with lots of messages and a take-away coffee. The small things really count. I could do this!
* Children absolutely make life better! Their excitement outshone mine. Hugs, a very special gift and an amazing Elmo cake made my day. A birthday in the classroom with 25 happy little faces is how everyone should celebrate.
* A rainbow cake in the staff room made by my mystery birthday buddy and about 50 renditions of Happy Birthday made the day even more fun.
* A very big surprise as the school bell rang to end the day and the parents from my class showed up with a ginormous cake with my name on it.
* A wonderful afternoon coffee with three beautiful friends and a stunning view.
* A special invitation to a new house that I couldn’t find. Instead I found a whole table full of students and parents from my class waiting to have dinner with me at a local restaurant. A surprise I would never have guessed. A surprise that I was actually completely oblivious to even though it should have been obvious. Meanwhile, another surprise was accidentally spoiled as I was out to dinner with the school gang. A special visit to my house by my coffee friends from earlier. They kept me company so that I wasn’t home alone. I’ve never been so surprised in all my life by both gestures. I was shaking and felt so amazing because of these selfless people’s acts of friendship.
On to the weekend away…
* They cancelled the boat across to the island and when I called up to say I couldn’t make the first night after all, they sent the owner of the island to come and collect us on his personal boat!!!!!!! Yep! That happened!
* With all the people who cancelled, I think it turned out just how it was meant to be – me and 3 beautiful girls who helped me to get my natural happy back by spending quality, relaxed time together.
* I got my dirty thirty pash! On the dance floor with the dodgy DJ playing his repetitive tunes, I danced the night away (completely lacking any style) with the girls. Along came ‘Undies-in-the-tree Guy’ (I should really give him a better name as there was a whole group of guys with all their undies in the tree) who was obviously drawn in by my groovy moves. We had heaps of fun and I got to hang out with him and his undie-loving, rashie-wearing, headlights-in-hats mates the next day. The happy ending is that we are still in contact and he is super nice, always entertaining and has a great imagination!
A 30th to remember. A birthday where I didn’t realise it but I was brave in my own world. It may not seem much to some. But I spent it alone, without my family. In the end though, I was not alone at all.
The funniest part of this story is that, the title ‘the part where I am blessed with youth’, came right at the end. A man working at the jewellers, where I was trying to find a perfect 30 and Fabulous ring to buy myself, said it with passion. “You’re not 30?!” “You are definitely blessed with youth!” Maybe I can keep tricking people by not changing a bit even though my number has.
Up next: Back to fun stories of accidental adventures. My brush with the law…