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Best Birthday Ever

Aug 21 2017

You guys, I had the best birthday of my life this past weekend and I'm so excited to share it. There were so many surprises and fun moments, coupled by a few not-so-good ones, but it can't be good all the time, right? Seth and Kim just left so to help combat my post-visitor blues, I'm going to write a little recap.

I had told Seth months ago that I really wanted a birthday party with all my SF friends and that I would be working with my friend Mike to plan the event since his birthday falls during the same week. Seth told me not to do it, not to plan anything...which was very hard to stomach for a control freak like myself. I kept trying to whip up some plans and he kept telling me to stop. He's always been good at surprises and planning so I pushed my fears of being disappointed aside and lived in the uncomfortable world of "not knowing."

Last week, I spent my real birthday alone and managed to have a wonderful time. I knew Seth was coming in on Thursday so I spent the work week anxiously awaiting his arrival, especially since I hadn't seen him since June 23. Side note: long distance is a fucking bitch and I can't wait for it to be over. But alas, that is for another post. He arrived as planned on Thursday and as I let him in, he mentioned he ordered food and that it would be arriving shortly. I didn't press for details because I knew the weekend was about being surprised.

On surprises

As much as I love surprises, they also make me anxious because I worry about potential disappointment. I'm also the type that needs to be in control at all times, which makes this sort of thing really interesting. Emotions are hard for me so catching me off guard could elicit a response that I'm not prepared to share. Simultaneously, I love attention, parties and quality time with friends so it's almost like I'm on my own mental fence. I truly want the surprise but have a hard time letting go enough to be surprised. It's almost like I'm seeking to ruin things for myself. Self destructive behavior is not a new thing in my world and will be explored a bit further in this post, but safe to say, I'm working on changing this but it's hard as fuck.

I should learn by now to trust Seth. He is thoughtful, generous, selfless and goes through great lengths for good experiences, especially surprises. When the "food" arrived, he was conveniently in the bathroom so I answered the door. Lo and behold, not a Pizza Hut delivery person but instead, my sister, Kim!

In that moment, I knew this wasn't any other birthday.

I'm not good at recapping events so I'm opting for a bulleted list of some of the wonderful things Kim, Seth and I did together, or that they thoughtfully did for me:

• Kim baked and brought gluten free cupcakes on the flight, then sang "Happy Birthday" to me in my apartment.

• Seth commissioned an illustrator to draw my childhood home and he gave it to me as a gift (thanks Cape Horn Illustration!)

• Kim gifted me an DNA kit, something I've wanted for ages.

• Both attended the Decemberists with me at the Fox Theater in Oakland, one of my favorite bands.

• During down time, we explored the city on foot, walking a few miles per day. This was a great opportunity to see this magnificent city yet again before I depart. We walked from Lower Pac Hts through Nob Hill to Chinatown and lastly, North Beach.

• We had palomas together at Vesuvio, one of my favorite bars, followed by a visit to a small Italian street fest in North Beach.

• We did foaming charcoal sheet masks together.

• We laughed before bed, telling the Google Home to play Smash Mouth and Baguette Quartet.

These are the smaller moments that made this visit so special. But Saturday night was the epic moments. I had no idea what was in store, only a few guesses as to what we'd be doing. I donned a new, crushed velvet gown and the three of us set out on an unknown adventure. It started with dinner at Alembic – we were led to a 5 seater table where I waited anxiously for our two mystery guests, who turned out to be Fran and Julian! The perfect pair for dinner extraordinaire! Fran and Julian have been my California family since I got here in 2015, so sharing birthday dinner with them, Seth and Kim was nothing short of fulfilling and meaningful. As dinner began to wind down, I felt butterflies of anticipation in my tummy. What could be next?

After dinner, I was led into a divey ass bar near Polk St called Soda Popinski's. As Seth led us to the back area, I noticed Mike's smiling face amongst an entire table of my SF FRIENDS! What a moment. Everything I had said I wanted, happening, in real time. It was almost too much. I was shocked to see my friends from distant suburbs or the ones who are mamas to little ones. My favorite co-workers were there. Mike's sister and brother-in-law even came in from New Jersey! And if things couldn't get any better, I spun a wheel-of-fortune type device and won a bottle of champagne – the best prize on the whole damn wheel. Things couldn't go wrong, right?

On alcohol and getting "shitty"

Here's where I'm going to segway into some harder things. I want to use writing and the act of sharing to help me grow past one of my less desirable traits, and that's drinking too much at the wrong time. This event was the perfect storm – a large group of my best friends, celebrating something directly related to me. This time, it was my birthday but such things have happened at many a birthday, going away party, or holiday event. I use alcohol to disappear.

I don't know if it's the need to keep the party going that fuels it. Or escaping from overwhelming feelings of joy and gratitude. Or self destructing a moment that should be happy. I think it's a bit of all of these. I was worried I'd drink too much before we even left the house. I knew if I was the center of attention at an event in my honor, I might go too far. And I did. We left that dive and headed to late-night karaoke where I proceeded to drink too many vodka sodas in the spirit of having a good time. I can't tell you how I happy I was that Seth and Kim had planned such a wonderful event and that Mike had gone to great lengths to get everyone together on the SF side. Was this happiness too much to bear? Why wouldn't I cool it on the booze and enjoy the precious moments of singing with friends?

I don't even know what I'm fucking saying in this post but I know I'm sick of drinking too much and blacking out. I'm sick of ruining happy moments for myself. I'm sick of hurting the people I'm closest to when they have to take care of me. This has been going on for years now, and while this episode of getting "shitty drunk" was certainly not the worst, it still hurt the next day and I was so angry at myself for letting it happen again.

I'm not sure what to do but I'm working on it. This issue has come up in my therapy sessions before and I wish I could skip all the hard work and jump to the mystical "end" of the process...the end in which these embarrassing things don't happen. But, damnit, it doesn't work like that. I'm lucky to have Seth and Kim. They listened and helped me the next day when I felt worthless. And yeah, that was the only low part of the weekend and I am the cause. I debated writing this amazing birthday post and excluding the shitty drunk admission. But then I'm just like any blogger who photoshops the shit out of their Instagrams to show off their "perfect life." This blog is about honestly and healing. And comradery and growth. And that was painful to write, but there it is. I kinda feel better...maybe I'll feel worse when I hit "publish." Anyway, I'm going to dive into this subject at a later time, once I've thought about it a bit more. Back to birthday stuff :)

Even though I had a pretty rough hangover the next day, Seth and Kim still had one more surprise up their little sleeves, thanks to Fran. I got to go to the Color Factory! For those who don't know, Color Factory is a sold-out, pop up exhibit focused exclusively on color. Life sized installations dominate each room and there are fun activities for all, including but not limited to giant green markers for writing on walls, ice cream, confetti and lemon yellow ball pits. We were so goofy in that ball pit. I caught myself lying there, just cracking up at nothing. It was a happy moment, though short lived.

I caught myself getting upset over the dumb drinking debacle – a now past event which was ruining my current moments. This is another form of self destructive behavior that I partake in. Each time I had a good moment, I caught my brain going back to a not-so-good moment, in hopes of crushing my mood. It certainly worked but as the day went on, I told myself to squash it. I had a little moment of tears away from Seth and Kim and once that was over, I felt better. I told myself to pull it together and to stop being so damn mean to myself. What good does it do?

After Color Factory, we hung out in the Mission for a bit before heading home. We stayed in and watched movies with Thai food and I realized that their visit sealed the deal on my move home. I mean, it's already sealed but mentally I have got to go back. I really miss both of them. They left today and it was really hard, even though Seth comes back next week. Those little moments, like watching a documentary together, really made my decision more real and made me feel 1000% okay with it. If those moments are what I'm going back for, then I'm ready.

They left a few hours ago and I'm feeling low, so I forced myself to write, even though I wanted to disappear into Kardashians or Teen Mom. I know the post is all over the place but in closing, the weekend was phenomenal, incredible, touching and reassuring. Parts of it were tough. But I'm working on it. 32 should be an interesting year...