Throughout high school and college, my friends and I have been big birthday people. So I've had all kinds of things happen for me on my birthday. A few of my favorites include a surprise party when I turned 17 (I seriously had NO idea), a birthday WEEK when I turned 19 (which included a scavenger hunt all around Columbia, many celebratory dinners, and 4 of my friends from out of town coming to spend a weekend with me), and being kidnapped (literally blind folded and shoved into a car) and taken to Atlanta for my 21st. Since moving to Slovakia, I've had to readjust my expectations for this day, knowing I'm not going to be surrounded by my best friends or family. And last year was pretty miserable to be honest. It included my friend's dog leaving a big pile of crap for me to clean up on the kitchen floor, a morning of staff meetings in Zilina, me missing lunch because I had to rush to catch my train back to Bratislava, subsequently starving through small group, and then pretty much going to bed hungry because I was too tired to bother with going to the store for food. It was a little depressing.
This year I was planning to take it easy on my birthday, which was this past Thursday. I was going to finish Christmas shopping, hang up some more pictures around my flat, meet with a few friends... really just enjoy doing whatever I wanted. But then Tuesday evening I received an email about our staff meetings in Zilina on Thursday... WHAT!? I had no idea this was coming, and was super frustrated at the idea of reliving the horrid experience of last year. The reason I didn't know I was expected there was a classic case of miscommunication between my boss and I, so I put on my best happy face and got on my train to Zilina Thursday morning.
The day started out rocky with the crap weather I stepped out into. It was that nasty mix of snow and rain, and it was not only coming down hard, but it was coming down pretty sideways thanks to the constant windiness of BA. So you can imagine what help my umbrella was to me. None. But once arriving in Zilina, my sweet teammates Maruska, Anka, and Janka really tried their best to make the day great for me throughout our day of meetings. Unfortunately for them, my poor attitude was pretty fixed all day, but I really appreciated their effort and need to apologize for my grumpiness. Part of the reason I couldn't shake it was the fact that in the evening we were having a Christmas party with the architecture firm that works below us. The idea of being the only foreigner (Zac and his wife, Kim, couldn't come) in a sea of alcohol and older Slovak men was not what I had planned for the evening of my birthday. Thankfully I was able to side up next to my friend Miska during most of the party, and ended up having a really great conversation with her that made being there worth it. Then I went to bed early, and thus was my the end of the day of my birth.
Last night, my dear friend Noemi threw me and her brother, Jakub, a birthday party. Their mom, Ester, made lots of amazing food, including a sacher tort and tiramisu for desert, which was fabulous because I hadn't eaten all day. The thing is though, I was turning 25, and Jakub was turning 18. So, next to Ester, their MOM might I remind you, I was by far the oldest person at my party. At one point they were playing a Dave Matthews song, and I just laughed and said, "This song came out when I was 11!" One of the girls then said, "that means I was 2!" Oh my.
This post may seem a little bitter to the untrained eye, but really I'm laughing at myself. I know how blessed I am. Especially at how much my life here has transformed over the past year. I'm touched by how many people wanted my day to be great and feel very well loved. However, I must admit that I still have the desire to do something selfish for myself. So, in honor of turning 25 and the desire to celebrate like an adult, tomorrow I'm treating myself to a trip to Czech to visit my close friend Katka for a few days. And I'm desperately looking forward to it!