I have a relatively good memory (cuando me conviene) and have the ability to remember waaaaaaaaaay back. Sure, pictures help to jog this old noggin, but I can sometimes remember more vividly than others.
For instance, I can remember my 8th (or was it 9th) birthday where we had a piñata and my very pregnant Madrina and my mom's very pregnant friend, Snoopy battled over candy with such fervor that they both fell on top of me. Near death experience. At this same party, one Papi's cousins decided it would be a total gag to rub frosting all over my face. I sure as heck didn't think so and have the pictures of me bawling to prove it. I also wasn't too fond of said person because he thought it oh so funny to flip his eyelids inside out and scare the Bejeezus out of me - frequently. This guy was supposed to be one of the adults, right? Twenty plus years later, I'm still hesitant to be near him lest he do it again and then think: he was un mojon in his twenties -- what the hell did I expect?
I remember all through middle and high school being envious of the kids who had birthdays during the school year. They'd show up to school and all their friends would bring them a balloon. By the days end, they could probably float away given the right gust of wind. Being a Summer baby, I never really had this opportunity. Sure, we'd always take a vacation somewhere -- Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Disney or just the beach. But all I wanted was those stupid balloons so I could flash my so-called popularity. They were the feathers to my peacock.
My thirteenth birthday had a hurricane looming so we didn't do anything special because we were too busy boarding up the windows. We had ham steaks with pineapple and mashed potatoes and mom picked up the last cake at the grocery store (along with some canned goods & water). Good news was that the hurricane didn't hit. Bad news: no party anyway.
My Quinces were everything I imagined and wanted at that time. Blue, blue and more blue -- I even had the florists paint my flowers blue! I still remember that the boy that made my heart flutter at the time danced "Tainted Love" (my all-time favorite song) with me and that kept me on a high for weeks. He never did call after that. Mami sat me down that day and had a talk with me. No, not "The Talk" -- she said this:
"Don't rush in wanting to grow up. It will come sooner than you think and the older you get, the quicker it will come. You're fifteen now, next thing you know, you will be eighteen, then twenty-one, then twenty-five, then thirty!"
I thought she was full of shit.
My nineteenth birthday was full of sugar, cake, and Britney Spears & *NSYNC Karaoke. There is video footage somewhere.
My twenty-first birthday was spent on a week long trip visiting the Magic Kingdom & Busch Gardens. On the actual day of my birthday, we were at Busch Gardens and I had told Papi that I wanted to buy my old man a beer. I did -- I also bought myself one. I didn't like it. I also remember that at exactly 10:44 am, as we were walking past some animal, Papi yelled, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" and spanked me so hard my teeth rattled and I think I even cried a bit. Nine years later, I think my butt is still throbbing. He had been waiting for at least ten minutes to do that, holding his breath and checking his watch every so often. I will pay him back someday.
On my twenty-sixth birthday, I woke up crying. I don't know why and have since shed a tear at some point during that day -- never fails. One of my best friends, Cocation, arrived at my job earlier than me and had decorated my entire office with balloons & streamers. She then, along with my family, surprised me at Coyote Ugly that night for cake & drinks. Its an interesting experience to have a strange woman pour a tequila shot in your mouth while she dances on top of a bar to "Pour Some Sugar On Me". Yep, strike that one off the bucket list!
On my twenty-seventh birthday, Mami sat me down again. "You're not a Spring chicken anymore. You're closer to thirty than twenty-five." I, of course, cried. That was the first year that I heard the toll of the bell in my Vieja Clocktower. The only bright side was that I was engaged to a fabulous guy so at least I knew I wasn't going to be an old maid. My niece was also born six days later - what an awesome birthday gift!
Last year was a tough one. It was the first time I have ever been away from my family. They called all day and Mami made a Lechon Asado in my honor. The only thing missing was me. I asked that they at least place a picture of me at the dinner table so it would seem that I was there. No one knew it was my birthday at my new job and my day just got worse and worse. Mi Gringito was working and it just plain sucked. Needless to say, I cried.
I decided I was going to change the pattern this year. I refused to have a birthday cake (it also helped that it wasn't good for my diet!) and I also decided that I was going to treat this day like any other. No fanfare, nothing. My other best friend, Muffin, flew all the way from Iowa to spend the week with me and that was birthday gift enough. On the actual day of my birthday, we headed North to some outlet malls and just hung out -- we even saw a moose on the drive home! Forget that we were scared of random Indians popping out of the woods and standing in the middle of the road -- maybe the mushrooms in our supper were magical! So, finally, I did not cry on the day of my birthday!
I cried the following day.
I was in a rush because Mi Gringito had a job interview and I had lost all track of time. I was in the shower washing my hair when there was a knock on the bathroom door. Mi Gringito needed to use the bathroom and was asking permission to enter. You'd think after nearly two years of marriage, he'd walk right in -- I do. I tell him OK and don't bother to turn around; I had more important things to attend to like the shampoo that was making its way into my eyes. All of a sudden, the shower door opens. I turned around to see what he was thinking when I looked right at my mother's face. SURPRISE! Mami had come to visit me like a ninja! She offered to scrub my back, I sobbed like a baby. Best. Birthday. Ever. I had my Mami and my Muffin with me for an entire week. Muffin made me cinnamon rolls from scratch and got me the coolest pair of Sperry Top-Siders (I've always wanted a pair!). We hung out, drank wine, played dominoes. I also scored an "ñ" charm for my bracelet as well as a Kindle. Its going to be hard to top this one, I fear!
What are some of your fond or not-so-fond memories of birthdays past?