Month Three. Reserve. #SEA.

Yesterday was my birthday.

I am definitely a holiday person. I revel in the traditions, the rituals of special days. When I was a kid, Christmas was this four month build-up of anticipation and excitement. I would plan out our family's Christmas Eve dinner, set up elaborate Nativity scenes and organize everyone's wish lists into neat little pages to be handed out so that Secret Santa shopping could be made a little easier (and to make sure that my need for a 1996 Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast Barbie was clearly understood).

Thanksgiving feasts, Fourth of July pool parties, Memorial Day picnics. Decorations, treats, invitations. I loved the whole process of it.

And then there was my birthday. The Mecca of special days. When July rolled around every year, I was already in dream mode, thinking of who would be attending my party (pretty much the same crew of kids from age 5 until age 18), what kind of cake I would get (DQ ice cream cake. Enough said.) and, of course, presents.

July 11 has been a big day from 1986 until recent years. Some highlights: Turning 11 (my golden birthday, of course), when we had that outdoor movie/pizza party/sleepover extravaganza. Five best friends, lots of giggling and too much soda and candy and pizza. My poor mother getting absolutely no sleep.

2007. I was the last of my friends to turn 21. It was a classic night of mild wildness, with a quick stop at several neighborhood watering holes for a Island Iced Tea, Appletini, Jagerbomb and then several Mike's Hard Lemonades. In that order. Because you always make the best decisions on the night of your 21st. But we still all talk about that night. Because we were all there, my best friends in the whole world, ordering me ill-advised drink after ill-advised drink.

There were a couple rough birthdays. 25. Pretty much alone and in New York City. Forgotten by my boyfriend at the time. Luckily, a few good friends took me out and with a few drinks, salvaged the day.

18 was a strange one. I had just graduated from high school and longing for the day that I would move away from Wisconsin to go to college. My days were quiet and long. I worked in an office full of old church ladies in long denim skirts. Someone bought me a sheet cake from Pick 'N' Save.

The last two years have been amazing birthdays. Birthday trips to the Washington coast, romantic stays at a little B&B on Whidbey Island, giant 20-person dinner parties at my favorite restaurant. I definitely treated myself to some extravagant birthday festivities.

Yesterday was July 11. For some reason, this year, I felt inclined to be quiet about my birthday. I didn't request the day off from work. I woke up and went about my day like it was any other day. Instead of wondering what I was going to get for my birthday, I marveled in what I already have. An amazing guy who loves me unconditionally. My sweet old cat, Bruce. A job that I absolutely LOVE. A city that always welcomes me back into its arms. Friends that blow me away with their generosity, kindness and understanding. I've got a place to live, some food to eat and a healthy body with which to explore the world.

Happy Birthday to me.


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