What does one do for a birthday of consequence? Milestones are traditionally celebrated with family and close friends. Although I am frequently the exception to every rule, in this respect, I was no exception. My daughters and the Cub colluded to put together celebrations that were fitting for me and for the special occasion.
The kickoff celebration was a home cooked meal chez JaJa & the Chief Optimist, thoughtfully prepared by my two daughters and attended only by my inner circle. The food choices reflected our cultural influences and spanned Italian, French, and Polish cuisines. Starters were a choice of meat or potato baby pierogis as a reflection of my Polish heritage. An architecturally constructed ratatouille tarte paid homage to my life-long obsession with French, followed inevitably by pasta smothered with chicken marsala in tribute to our longtime take-out favorite from Carmine’s. Our family’s favorite chocolate cake topped with strawberries and a la mode completed the meal with a class of champagne in hand. This was perfection – a reflection of the past as I looked forward to my next decade. No birthday is complete without a surprise and the more unexpected the better. A collaborative video was orchestrated by my daughters as together we viewed many family and friends offer their best wishes and memories of the past. I cried.
Leave it to youth and the Cub to suggest that I not merely celebrate my day, week or month but the entire decade. The celebration beginning my decade continued the next evening when a larger group assembled in the comfy Bubble Lounge in my new fav ‘hood – Tribeca. Conversation flowed with the bubbly until we finally made the short walk to the club M1-5 since no birthday would be complete for me without dancing. All I remember is later that night being put into a taxi with $20 in my hand as a thoughtful friend gave my home address to the driver.
It’s also wonderful to have a friend who decides to spoil me with a birthday lunch at Jean-George. It made me feel like a lady who lunches in style. The food prepared and served with such delicacy, the serene décor in a soft palette, the effortless conversation with my bestie all worked their magic to make me feel bathed in happiness on my special day. Further food delights awaited me later in the week as my daughter and I had an impromptu lunch at Sushi of Gari on West Broadway. Letting go was the order of the day as we choose the omikaze menu and the chef made inspired food choices. We tasted and compared each morsel thoughtfully, patiently and lovingly. I left that meal with the singular experience of feeling complete – my palate was sated. I could not imagine any other food passing my mouth with the exception of perhaps an excellent Bordeaux later that evening.
Is there the expectation that by the time one reaches a birthday of consequence one feels like a person of consequence? As I reflect on my past, I have no sense that I’ve achieved anything of consequence. Rather I feel like I’ve achieved small victories – surviving personal heartbreak, absorbing loss, continuing to put one foot in front of the other daily. As I think about the Cub, I’m sure that he has more lofty goals as reflects his youthful optimism. My mature optimism is trending differently – towards more celebratory lunches with friends, finally getting that leather jacket I’ve coveted, upp-ing my yoga game, loving like I’ve never been hurt. At a particularly low point in my past life, I vividly remember in hip hop class wanting long hair that moves seductively. I’ve got that now and it’s not inconsequential. I feel exceptional.