For over a decade now, most years on January 12th, I find myself in a different country, celebrating (and sometimes stressing) about turning another year older by doing one of my favourite things: travelling.
This trend began on my 24th birthday when, much to my mother’s tearful chagrin, I boarded a plane to Kenya, which was in the midst of its post-election violence, to volunteer for several months at a school and children’s home. My 25th was much more subdued as I made my way to New York City, one of my favourite cities in the world, to spend my birthday skating at Rockefeller Center and watching Broadway shows. My 30th birthday was spent in Vegas with bright lights, penny slots and a trip to the Grand Canyon, with many other birthdays being celebrated on the beaches of Mexico, Jamaica and Bahamas.
There has been the odd year where, due to work schedules or injury, I’ve found myself in the country on January 12th. For the most part, though, those years still ended up with at least a little getaway to someplace like Blue Mountain or Windsor to check out breweries or watch Cirque du Soleil shows.
That is, until this year, when I find myself at home in the midst of another Covid-19 lockdown in Ontario.
Birthdays tend to bring out the anxiety in me. Normally not an anxious person, I often spend the time leading up to the big day wavering between being stressed by it and wanting to celebrate it for the entire month of January. I used to think I was just afraid of getting older, but have come to realize that gaining another year has never been the issue. Rather, it’s the feeling that with each year, I’m running out of time to check off all the hopes, dreams, plans and wishes I have for my life—a feeling I come by honestly, as my dad recently said he calculated that he would need to live to over 200 to finish all the projects he’s put down on his multiple “to-do” lists.
These past 10.5 months of being at home, off work and unable to travel have only added to the feeling this year. This past week, it’s been a struggle to force myself out of bed in the morning and do something with my day, as reminders pop up on my Facebook and Instagram memories of where I was heading off to celebrate my birthday in past years (with many more of those memories flooding in today).
My day didn’t start with a buffet and breakfast mimosa’s. Instead it was a slow start, with a cup of coffee with Forty Creek Nanaimo Bar cream and bacon and eggs made by my finance. Curled up on the couch reading my new Dolly Parton book, instead of taking my book to the beach. A lazy day filled with homemade lasagna made by my Mom and an ice cream cake (is it even a birthday if you don’t have one of those?? I don’t think so!)
Texts, messages and calls from friends and family and homemade cards and cupcakes delivered from some of my favourite little people (and their moms).
It was definitely a different kind of birthday for me, but still a good one filled with special little moments.
I fall victim to wanting my birthday to be extraordinary each year. A celebration of another year of great memories of travel and experiences with family and friends and the kick-start of the next year and what I’m going to be able to see, do, try and accomplish just beginning. If this past year taught me anything, it’s that the universe has a way of upending even the best laid plans. Sometimes years that were supposed to be big, important years filled with weddings and travel can end up being a year filled with gardening, crafts and baking, and that while I can’t wait to get back to celebrating my birthdays abroad…occasionally having a birthday that’s not extraordinary but merely ‘extra ordinary’ might just be okay.