How I Celebrated My Birthday
A week after celebrating my birthday on January 30, I don’t feel a day older than the first time turned 25! This past week has been a profound reminder that I am loved and I’m left feeling beyond grateful and totally inspired. Since moving to New York almost a decade ago, I’ve seldom had a happy birthday. The last two found me miserable, at home alone, homesick and in tears. This year, however, my birthday was beautifully spent.
My day got off to cheerful start thanks to phone calls from family and friends back in Barbados. The first call came from my friend Reynold, who stayed up just to greet me at the stroke of midnight. Next, as she does religiously every year, my mom called at 4 am (5 am Barbados time). My 10-year-old nephew Nicholai followed an hour and a half later. Then as if they conspired to NOT let me sleep late on my birthday, as soon as I dozed back off, Shawn called, Hazel called. Anthony, Edwardine, Carolyn, my godmother Ornella and more called. Because it was also my sister Sancia’s birthday, we called each other a few times throughout the day to make sure it was going well.
My close friends in the US weren’t to be left out. They usually stay in touch via text and email, but always call for my birthday. This year was no exception. Hearing their voices added extra warmth to my day. And of course, nowadays, birthdays wouldn’t be the same without Facebook. I was immensely appreciative of the few hundred greetings, whether posted on my wall or sent privately. Some of the messages were especially touching.
“Maquita, some might say that your birthday falling on the warmest day NYC has had in weeks is mere coincidence. I say it’s symbolic…” my friend L.A. wrote. “Enjoy your special day and know that as wonderful as your past has been, the future holds even greater blessings.” The weather was almost 60 degrees on my birthday – in January!
Another friend and wife of one of my best friends wrote: “I hope you have the best year of your life. I feel good about this year. I believe it will be fabulous . . . The gifts of life, faith, health, wisdom, experience, enlightenment are all to be celebrated. God has His own plans for you – keep doing all that you are doing and everything will fall into place.”
Birthday love also came via what is seemingly becoming a thing of the past – greeting cards. In an era where e-cards/gifs and texts are prevalent, I got some of the loveliest cards, including one from my adorable 3-year-old twin godchildren Chaunté and Jerome in Barbados. Two others from my friends Toni-Ann and Vin were particularly heartfelt. Among my other birthday gifts were bouquets of flowers from both male and female friends and as a huge fan of classic pens, I was overjoyed to be presented with a gorgeous Cross fountain pen with my favorite color ink – black!
The day ended on a high. Two dear friends – Toni-Ann and Svetlana – took me to dinner. My newly found friend Jahnesta and her cousin Marquita joined us. Jahnesta’s friendship is testimony to the power of social media. She lives in South Florida and were it not for our respective passion for food and cooking, I doubt our paths would have crossed. We met late last summer on Instagram.
I often post photos on Instagram of dishes I cook and they somehow ended up on Jahnesta’s “radar”. She started following me and “liking” all my food. I followed her back and I too “liked” all her food. We began chatting often via photo comments and discovered that we had several other things in common, like we’re both from Caribbean; she’s from the US Virgin Islands, I’m from Barbados. We also found out that we share a background in journalism, we’re both writers.
Coincidentally, Jahnesta was in town to visit her cousin the week of my birthday. I thought it would be an ideal time to finally meet in person. I told her that my friends and I would be at Negril Village restaurant for my birthday and suggested that she pass by. She did. It was as if we’d known each other for a lifetime; we all instantly hit it off.
So maybe I didn’t jet off on some exotic trip with some super sexy suitor, or I didn’t book a fancy hotel for the weekend, or I didn’t even throw a rollicking birthday party. But for 24 glorious hours, I forgot about all my troubles: single life, the loneliness of an island girl living in New York; the job hunt; the dreams I’m still chasing. Savoring the combination of some of life’s simple pleasures: great company; delectable cuisine; stimulating conversation; delightful surprises; well wishes; prayers; and the love of family and friends – I made it one of my best birthdays ever.
What about you, what do you think makes a great birthday?
~ I Keep it Irie ~