Happy Birthday to Me

Last Thursday I celebrated my 28th birthday in Prague (the middle stop on our European travels). The day started with sleeping in, breakfast, and returning to bed to nap and watch the news. The afternoon included our first ever Segway adventure, which was not only amazing but also the perfect way to see such a lovely, hilly city. Mark and I were both previously convinced Segways were for the lazy and/or weird, but it’s a brilliant experience. The evening was a little less riveting – a good meal, trying to check email in a loud, empty bar with non-working wifi (the only thing more annoying than no wifi is non-working wifi), and an interesting night tour of the city’s more ghoulish tales with an odd and slightly annoying guide. All-in-all a pretty good day out.

I’m not usually very precious about hitting certain ages. Some people get caught up in the idea that they’re almost 30 or 40 or whatever. Maybe I will eventually, but thus far I’ve never been particularly fussed. I do, however, remember my 18th birthday pretty clearly, and find it unbelievable that was a full 10 years ago. A decade. Wow. To be honest, a decade ago, I doubt I ever would have predicted my life would become what it is now, despite having always been a planner and always having a vision of  the future. Similarly, I barely recognize the 18 year old me. Thankfully, my changes have been predominantly for the better, which is all we can really hope for.

As a kid, I always loved my birthday. Celebrations typically included:

– Some sort of meaningful, but not overly expensive gift. These sometimes relied on inside jokes, like the year I got an industrial-sized pack of AA batteries and a tube of decorative cake icing. We typically got lots of gifts for Christmas, which is my Mum’s favourite holiday, but birthday gifts were more subdued.

– Sugary cereal of some sort. Junk food, and especially junk breakfast food, weren’t often allowed in our house. I distinctly remember standing in Lucky’s grocery store in Fremont, CA as a 6-ish year old on the receiving end of a lesson about ‘empty calories’ after requesting some sort of sugar-laden treat. For our birthdays, however, we got a box of whatever cereal we wanted. My sister, whose birthday falls a week before Halloween, always got the seasonal Count Chocula (she likes horror stories and chocolate, win-win) while I was partial to Lucky Charms. Having heard this tradition, Mark once very cutely bought a box of (imported, and therefore overpriced) Lucky Charms from Selfridges, wrapped it and gave it to me. This might’ve been the best birthday gift of my adult life.

– No chores! This policy was to make us feel ‘special’ on our birthdays, and I loved it. One of my fondest childhood memories is watching my Dad empty the dishwasher for me, because it was my chore for the week and needed doing on my birthday. My parents are awesome.

– Ice cream cake. Bringing two of my biggest loves together, I have always loved ice cream cake. Being a small child in California, ice cream was always seasonally appropriate (I’ve also been known to eat ice cream in the midst of blizzards in Colorado), but was the clear and obvious choice for a mid-summer Birthday and continued for pretty much every year until I moved to the UK.

– Family dinner at a restaurant of my choice. Being an avid fan of Japanese food, and teppanyaki tables in particular, I’m hard pressed to remember a year I didn’t’ go to Nijo Castle (in California) or Suehiro (in Colorado). The only exception I can think of was my 21st birthday lunch at Red Lobster, when I was craving their cheesy bread rolls.

It’s funny seeing now how much of my birthday traditions revolved around food. I guess this is part-and-parcel of my love of food, and also a solid illustration of how infrequency we had treats or went out to eat when I was a kid. One or two annual visits to Nijo Castle were a huge deal. Sad to think that novelty has worn off now that I’m a grownup with my own money and decision making abilities!

For the next year, my biggest goal is obvious – getting us settled in San Diego. Beyond that, I think I am mostly over plane travel (or will be by the time we get to San Diego), so I look forward to exploring San Diego and its more local (read: accessible by car) destinations. I also keep asking myself if this will be the year I get my 10K under 50 minutes, run a half marathon, get into yoga (ie doing it more than twice) or various other fitness related goals. It would seem without a pesky day job to worry about, I’ve not really got excuses. Here’s hoping I’m ringing in 29 as my most physically fit self yet.

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