Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yes indeed, as of last Thursday I am 28 years old, which puts me undeniably in my "upper twenties." While perhaps in two years I will "freak out" about 30 as it seems so many women do, I am actually feeling really good about 28. It's a good thing, too, because this year my birthday turned into a rather big deal, with celebrations spanning several days and involving various collections of people.
The festivities began with my boss taking me out to lunch on the 26th, my actual birthday. Dave gave me choice of restaurant, and I gravitated toward tapas (as I often do) at Mesón Sabika, a delightful restaurant set in a beautiful old mansion in Naperville. Dave invited Travis to join us, and we shared my favorite dishes (queso de cabra and datiles con tocino) and tried a few new ones as well (medallones de solomillo and polla al ajillo), along with the trusty stand-by, patatas con alioli. Yum! I topped it all off with a birthday profiterole.

As if that wasn't enough delicious food for one day, that evening was our family dinner at Buca di Beppo to celebrate my birthday and Tim's, which is the day before mine. The salad, pastas, and entree were delicious, and we wrapped things up with chocolate and vanilla gelato, which Buca serves by the pint along with an ice cream scoop and a painter's palette-type tray filled with cute petite ice cream cones. Forget pasta or pizza...gelato is Italy's greatest gift to the world.

Friday evening was spent with my new roommate, Melissa, and her family who were in town for a few days. Late Saturday morning I met up with Suzy to spectate at the Great Cardboard Boat Regatta in Glen Ellyn. We were there to cheer on our friend Jim, who along with 4 of his buddies has competed in the event for the last several years, winning various awards and distinctions. This year their cardboard creation was fashioned after an electric guitar. Measuring 35 feet in length and weighing over 300 lbs, it was a sight to behold on land. Sadly, it did not fare so well in the water. The guys exploded from the starting line and sped along the straightaway, but had difficulty turning at the first bouy. The wind and the water and the sheer weight of the boat did them in, and the crew got a rude introduction to the murky waters of Lake Ellyn. They went down, but they went down in style and greatly entertained the crowd, which was sad to see such an impressive boat unable to finish the course. You'll get 'em next year, Jim!

I went into Saturday evening anticipating surprise number One. Travis had been planning something for weeks, and although I am admittedly hard to surprise, he did a very good job of keeping me in the dark and throwing me off the scent. My only instructions were to show up at his house at 5:00 on Saturday, looking cute. I left my house early in order to beat the storm that was rolling in, and pulled into his parking lot at 4:30, almost ruining the whole surprise (though unbeknownst to me at the time). I was told to pull around the block and wait until I was summoned, which I did, brimming with curiosity. He came to collect me at 5:00 and led me up the back steps and into the which point I was confronted with 10 of my friends yelling "Surprise!" And indeed it was. I think it was probably a good 2-3 minutes before I could form an intelligible sentence and fully grasp the situation. Once I'd had a few minutes to reconcile my expectations with reality I recovered my ability to speak and started giving hugs all around. The party continued my the running "delicious international food" theme - Travis had ordered carry out tapas from Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba, where we'd first met, and other friends had contributed sangria and sides and dessert. It was such a gift to spend time enjoying good food, talking, and playing games with friends I hadn't expected to see.

When it came time to open cards and gifts I learned the identity of birthday surprise #2, which Allison & Alex had planned months in advance. It was a ticket to see the Cirque du Soleil show Kooza the following night! I'd never been to a Cirque show, but had heard Allison & Alex and other friends rave about them, so I was super excited. The show was incredible. According to the production notes, Kooza "is a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil: It combines two circus traditions – acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. The show highlights the physical demands of human performance in all its splendor and fragility, presented in a colorful mélange that emphasizes bold slapstick humor." As such, it incorporates a lot more of the "traditional" acts you might associate with a circus--clowns, trapeze, high wire, juggling, acrobatics, contortionists, etc. However, being Cirque, these are all accomplished with great artistry, set to riveting live music, and follow a story thread that's woven through the whole show, beginning to end. I am now one of those people who would say that if you have the opportunity to see a Cirque du Soleil show, do it!

After the show, the birthday celebration continued and delicious international food made another appearance with dinner at Quartino, a restaurant that serves Italian food in the tradition of tapas--small plates for everyone to share. The food was excellent, and the gnocci especially stood out as probably the best I've ever had. Yum yum yum.

And so now it is the Wednesday after my birthday, and you'd think I'd be done celebrating, right? Nope! Yesterday I redeemed my coupon for free ice cream at Cold Stone and called it lunch, and tomorrow I'm meeting Bethany for a birthday dinner at Houlihans.
So, when all is said and done, my birthday has been VERY happy (and drawn out) and I'm reminded anew that I have truly WONDERFUL friends. And, I've probably gained a few pounds. :) (But it was worth it.) Thanks to all of my friends and family, both near and far, who celebrated with me!


TirzahJean said...

That IS quite the birthday. Glad it was good! 28 has been my favorite year so far, and I hope yours brings you much happiness!

Sheryl said...

I'm glad you had such a great birthday! Keep up the good celebrating!

Sorry if this gets posted twice. :(