I used to try as hard as I could to party, get drunk and have fun on my birthday every year since I turned 18 (or 17, or 16 *shrugs*). It seemed that fun was a phantom that would play hard to get, especially when your birthday came about. There was this expectation that birthdays had to have alcohol fountains that left your guests with flushed faces and a pounding headache the morning after or it wouldn’t be worth mentioning at all.
Maybe it was being around very media-esque people and being pretty much a quintessential mass comm kid, but for me, birthdays became a high-profile event that doubled as a sort of status symbol in showing who you were or who you wanted to be. And back then, it seemed so important to be, or appear to be, a hardcore party girl with enough cash and aptitude for fun.
Last year, it being my 21st, I booked a beautiful boutique hotel room, had the hardest partyers of mass comm over and drank til I was puking by the drain outside the lobby. I didn’t remember half the night, though I doubt there was much to remember. But I came to realise that it wasn’t the alcohol or the beautiful hotel room that made it memorable – it was the people who had taken the time and trouble to troop all the way down to chinatown just to celebrate and be there for me.
This year I took on a more stripped down version. A rustic hotel room with balloons on the floor and rose petals on the bed. A simple balcony overlooking a charming pool surrounded with creeper-roofed pavilions and crisp green leaves falling from tropic trees and bushes. A swim by the hotel patio, a seafood buffet at the Hilton and a quiet night that ended with wine and choya.
And it was the most beautiful birthday of all.
I was glad that the people that mattered most dropped me texts, whatsapps and, of course, the all important facebook wall – oops, I mean timeline – posts to let me know that I was still in their minds and hearts. My bleaker siblings; my old friends from all over the place; Francesca, my oldest friend; Georgina, whom I’ve lost contact with since god knows when; my polymates, like Amiril, Dinesh and Danny, the few I still care enough to keep in contact with plus those who I’d thought would’ve written me off long ago; old sec school friends; new uni friends – and I had never thought these important before, but I think I’ve been taking these annual greetings and wishes for granted all these years.
It’s funny. I often shook my head at people who got so caught up in social networks and virtual reality that they never realised how little impact they made in actual reality, but I think I might’ve underestimated it (virtual reality) all along.
I think I’m relieved that this year’s birthday went perfectly despite me heading in a different direction from the norm. In fact, it was the best birthday I could ask for and more. This is gonna be crazy cheesey, but I’m awfully glad to finally have a day where I don’t have to make it about everyone else and let it just be about me. And the people who matter wouldn’t expect it to be any other way.
I’ve had crazy birthdays – fun ones that I’d remember for life. But I think this year’s is one that I would remember most of all. I guess from now on, I’m gonna be keeping it simple :)
(Of course, I wouldn’t have had such a perfect and memorable birthday if not for Mr Nonis – as the hotel staff kept calling him to his unrestrained glee. Perfect day thanks to my perfect boyfriend ^^ )