Monday morning, on my way to work.
Whenever talking about birthdays, I never remember the good ones – I remember the ones that turned into a good story.
Like my 19th one. I was alone in Arrequipa, Peru, South America. I was traveling around by myself, met a bunch of nice people, but somehow ended up completely alone for my birthday. I spent the day in a hammock in the shade of a tree with a brilliant book – definitely not a bad day so far – and spent the evening at the hotel restaurant, sharing a bottle of wine with my tiny little teddy bear. I was rather lonely, but somehow realized that it would make a good story some day. And as that thought occurred to me, the waitress – who I had told it was my birthday – made the piano guy play and everybody sing the birthday song for me, and I got a proper birthday cake with candles. I was still damned lonely, and kind of drunk, but hey, it turned out to be an evening I’ll never forget.
I am no longer as young and stupid, and currently quite sober on my way to work, but still have the feeling that this might be one of those birthdays. I am not as secluded, as internet access is a bit more widespread in Silicon Valley than in Arrequippa, but I am still quite alone and the only person I have spoken face-to-face with is the girl at the coffe-place I stepped by to have the first part of my daily dose of caffein. Oh, and the girl on BART who said “Bless you” when I sneezed five minutes ago.
I always tell the “my 19th birthday” story as though it was sad. But as I am sitting here on the train, on my way to work, not sure there’s anyone in the office (broken fingers, trip to Romania and work-from-home day and whoosh!, everybody’s gone. It’s a small company.) – I realize I am actually very much fond of this kind of solitude. I am sitting here with the feeling that this day can take me anywhere. I can just close my eyes and enjoy the moment. I do get this feeling from time to time, but it is particularly strong today – because after all, it is my birthday, I am turning 24, getting closer and closer to “my late twenties”. And I am not that different from what I was when I was 19 – except I do have a lot better internet connection.
Okay, this story definitely needs a part two:
Monday afternoon, on my way home from work
After wading around in my self-imposed solitude all the way to work, where I indeed was the first one to arrive – things started happening.
I checked my phone. 5 new messages, and new ones kept ticking in.
I checked my Facebook wall. 45 new wall-posts, and new ones kept ticking in.
I turned on Skype. My mom called. My brother and sister called. My best friend called. My boyfriend called.
The door to the office opened, and in came a huge bouquet of roses and a happy birthday-teddy bear. The delivery guy was there too, although you could hardly see him through all the flowers. They were from my boyfriend.
Two of my coworkers had by then arrived at the office, and with the flowers were reminded that it was my birthday. They bought me lunch.
Later tonight I’ll head out of the city with a couple of friends to watch the meteor shower. Fireworks! Even the universe seems to be celebrating me…?
My train is slowly moving towards the city, I am 24 years old today and very thankful for the fact that I have so many great friends and that my solitude is never anything but a welcome break from being social.