Last week was my birthday. I turned thirty-one. It has been a very painful year, and the one before it was not exactly a cakewalk either. The thirties have not been very kind to me so far, especially with my depression and my terror at being alone. I made some terrible friend choices in Delhi and that coupled with the distinct lack of romantic prospects made me…incoherent with fear over never being made to feel like I was wrapped in a cocoon of love. The Knight helped through the worst, but things have changed dramatically between us now, from my being able to blindly believe him whatever he said, to his actions completely giving lie to his words.

I share my birthday with my sister and for whatever reason I need to have people make a big deal of me for it. Pretty much all my friends know this. I even remind people so they won’t forget. But even so, I’ve rarely had GOOD birthdays, especially if parties were involved. There always was something that would go wrong–people wouldn’t show up, they’d act weird, it would be full of random strangers and not really dear friends, and though they might be wild and crazy and so on, I can remember only about two good birthdays as an adult. And last year! After last year I was petrified about staying in town for it. If I ran away, to visit gramma or something, I would have a good reason for no one making a fuss of me. But then, one of my friends offered to throw my birthday party in my house. Others hopped in to say they wanted to help.

And suddenly, there I was with a birthday party planned! A superb one by the looks of it. The terror began to ease as we approached the day, because eight people I love were putting this together–I was definitely going to have some dear friends at the party even if no one else showed up! I made my big list; I sent my invite and reminders. Many people said they’d come, and then at the last minute many people cancelled. Standard.

The day before birthday I was at the salon and my phone rang. It was The Knight, after nine days. (Long story for another post.) He asked me why no one was answering the door, because his present had been delivered. I must admit, I thawed a bit. I got home to find his present waiting and really I was speechless. Then that night I wanted, of course, to go to karaoke. So we did. My visiting Spanish friend, Kutti, one of my roommates from Hyd, the Hag and husband, Second Me and a recent addition to the circle who must be named. I sang like a lunatic, because I told them it was my birthday, and they even went and did happy birthday at midnight *cringe*. It was truly awesome. And then, at midnight, people whipped out presents! I had made shameless demand that people give me presents. On my wishlist I’d put silver earrings, anything from Body Shop’s Amazonian Wild Lily line, and vouchers to Good Earth. (I’m going to post presents in a haul at the end.) I didn’t think many people would take it seriously! But everyone did!

We got home happy and buzzed at 1am or something and I passed out. I woke up on birthday to Skype with niece and parents and cut my cake on skype while she caterwauled cumpleanos felizzzzzz. Then I baked cinnamon rolls and took em to work. At work FC and another colleague both dumped presents on my desk and I got no work done ALL day giggling about my birthday like a child, and answering the phone. Then SM turned up with flowers and presents! When I got home, The Knight’s second present, the one he was “really excited about” had turned up. I was flabbergasted. That evening we just had dinner, one person came for cake and then I was asleep at 930 because hello sleep deprivation.

Saturday arrived, the day of the party. I ran off to Sarojini in desperate search for birthday dress (they have good stuff at the mo!) and then to get a pedicure and came home in time for party planner friends to turn up. Then we bummed around and set up for the party and people began to come. Sadly Macho was too ill to be there (BAD BAD!), and Second Me was also too ill, only the doorbell rang and it was her! Oh god so many presents. Hee. The whole party was a nice blur of warm fuzzy happy, and for the first time in two years I felt that I could actually make it on my own, far from my family. Perhaps this is why I was not upset at all by the repeat flaking of the Divorcee (now crossed off the list), and the no-show no contact from The Knight. I think it just felt like confirmation of what I already knew, the professed love and importance were more to comfort himself with talk than actually meant!

I wish I could give you highlights, but there aren’t too many, since it was basically one long mellow blur. Wrapped up by one and all the food divided up and the cleaning half done. I’m writing this post mainly to remind myself that I have love, I have community, I feel right now at this moment, that I can do this alone. And if I forget that feeling, which I will, I want this to be here to remind me that at one point in three years, I felt like this. And if it happened once, it can happen again.

Two things that I will never forget about this party:

1. The INSANE amount of effort my party planner friend put into it. She baked me a hummingbird cake, and there was so much food in so many forms and all of it so very good!

2. The fact that my photography mentor showed up. It’s next to impossible to see him–he’s so busy–and he loathes parties. But he always calls for my birthday and he didn’t this time. And then he turned up. With by far the best present I got.

Which brings me to, THE PRESENTS! Sorry pictures are shite and taken on phone.

The first was what Amma got me, on her trip here, silver earrings from Lajpat NagarAmma

The next one to turn up was this, with this message: ‘For your love of whiskey, karaoke and throwing cushions.’ They came from an okc boy who has become dear friend who seems to live inside my head–that’s how well he understands me–and we’ve known each other about two months.
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Then I got the The Knight’s presents.
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Between the two I got earrings from the Hag
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and more from Second Me and visiting Spanish friend, but those seem to have disappeared so no photo.

At work I got a book from FC, in keeping with tradition.
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Followed by a bottle of Jameson’s from another colleague, which is also becoming a tradition. (The bottle’s over. Hee.)
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And then Second Me turned up with this loot:
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The visiting friend got me tarot cards I had asked for:
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The Marathoner (this is new fellow mentioned up top, good friend of The Flake’s and also now living in what used to be The Flake’s flat.) bought me this really cute chinese tea mug thing that I saw in a window and cooed over when we were at Majnu Ka Tilla some weeks ago.
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One set of friends, boys both of them (!) got me earrings AND Amazonian Wild Lily!
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The Wise One, an older friend of mine who is excellent at calming me down and making me behave like the adult I claim to be, gave me a teeny tiny bottle of perfume for keeping in bag:
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Our editorial assistant got me a book AND a beautiful picture:
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Someone gave me this cool credit card-sized and shaped swiss knife:
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My friend from Career Launcher who taught me to make momos got me gorgeous chikan:
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There were red carnations, a bottle of Jim Beam and a bottle of bordeaux as well. Some people are still going to give me presents–I shall update the record.

But the hands down winner was this 2ftx3ft archival/exhibition quality print from photography mentor, especially since it references the amount he has always teased me about my weakness for sunsets and clouds.
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