Ever wanted to experience the gamut of all human emotions in a 24-hour period? It’s easy. Follow these steps:
1. Demand that your boyfriend throw you a birthday party months in advance
2. Convince yourself that it won’t happen
3. Perceive the lack of an event on your actual day of birth as a sign that everyone you know decided other plans and/or Christmas were more important
4. Pitch a hissy fit that lasts until the next morning
5. Continue your petulance until your boyfriend relents and makes you promise you’ll still be surprised when your family arrives at your apartment in 45 minutes
6. Take family to a brewery for a beer – find home friends
7. Start crying
8. Meet family and home friends at their hotel before going out – find them and Boston friends at your surprise party
9. Cry more
10. Feel deep, deep shame at how strongly you believed everyone forgot you
11. Feel even more shame that so many people would go to such lengths to make you happy
And so on and so forth.
My actual birthday was a Friday. I’ve been looking forward to having a weekend night birthday since my 21st birthday fell on a Monday. (My 25th birthday was a Saturday, but was compounded by a massive snowstorm.) Does this sound stupid? Probably. Anyway, I knew Ryan had to have something planned for a few reasons: he couldn’t have been THAT much of a jerk that he would totally ignore my 30th birthday, someone had slipped about an invitation on Facebook, and the small matter of the fact that I asked him to. So, he met me out with some co-workers at a bar and took me to a rather fancy dinner. I thought for sure after dinner he’d lead me to a bar where all my Boston friends would be gathered. After gorging ourselves on steak (Ryan at least had enough sense to ask for a doggie bag for the remaining third of his steak; I declared that “this cow didn’t die to be microwaved tomorrow” and went for broke on the whole 10 oz filet. #yolo), we went back to the same bar. I kept my mouth shut during dinner, but when it became apparent that there was no next component to the night’s plan, my mood must have noticeably taken a dive because Ryan began to insist that we’d do something special next year. This does nothing to cheer me up. We ended up at swanky (well, by Boston standards) bar and I ordered a Maker’s Mark and ginger ale to drown my sorrows. I stared down at my cocktail and swirled its ice cubes around and around in sad little circles. Then the tears started. Pathetic statements ensued. “I would have planned something myself – why didn’t you just tell me?” “Is everyone just too busy to hang out with me-ee-eee-eeee?”
This continued the next morning. I woke up and pondered a yoga class (wasn’t hungover because the steak sopped up all the bourbon), but as Ryan handed me my gifts and a long-winded card apologizing for the lack of a party, my teeny, tiny balloon of hope deflated with a whimper and the tears and whimpering returned. Ryan gently tried to cajole me out of bed with the promise of breakfast but I declined and said I was going back to sleep. (I never turn down going out for breakfast – this is how you know I was pissed.) I texted my friends from work asking why they let me carry on for a month about a birthday party when there wasn’t one; I texted my brother saying I felt like a jerk for thinking something had been planned; I texted my mother that I felt so forgotten and just wanted to drive home early for Christmas. One day, screenshots of these texts should be compiled into a photo essay chronicling the descent of a normally sane young woman into madness and ridiculous self-pity.
Ryan finally relented one small tidbit of the wild day that was about to unfold and told me my family was on their way, but I HAD to act surprised when they got here. Then he took several photos of my mascara-streaked face so that we would have images of my simultaneous surprise and shame in perpetuity.
I pulled it together and the Infantes and Special Lady Friends arrived and we all got lunch. While eating pizza, we chatted about what to do next and someone mentioned Harpoon. Ryan, the unofficial king of apathy, immediately hopped on board with this, which I thought was kind of weird, but went with it. We get there and I followed him around the bar and he stopped said hi to a few people he worked with there over the summer. Then he muttered something like “Oh, I think I see a guy I know over there.” Still thought this was weird but continued to go with it. I followed him and he walked me over to…ALL MY FRIENDS FROM HOME. (Well, not ALL all, but you get what I mean.) Everyone had left New Jersey and New York at the crack of dawn to get to Boston and mobilized quickly when Ryan told them to all gather at Harpoon. Apparently, there were a number of rendezvous contingencies in place, but I squashed all of them by refusing to work at my own beer-y place of Saturday employment and then by refusing to go out for breakfast.
We made a tentative plan to bar hop later that evening and left the brewery. Ryan and I went home to change and he starts putting on a suit, about which I immediately start haranguing him. (Can you tell the theme here? I can’t get out of my own damn way.) I convinced him to change into something more casual and felt pretty pleased with myself that I had saved him from potential embarrassment of rolling into a shoddy dive bar in his nice suit. He didn’t really put up a fight, but also didn’t tell me that maybe a T-shirt, skirt and riding boots weren’t going to be the way to go for me. For the record, this outfit should never have been a thing.
Regardless, we get to the bar/restaurant of the hotel where my family is staying to meet them before heading out. Or so I thought. Ryan decides we need a drink and drags/leads me over to another section of the bar, where we find…ALL MY BOSTON FRIENDS. And my friends from home. And they’re ALL IN THE SAME PLACE. Mind-blowing.
I made a point to talk to everyone and the things they told me were humbling. Sarah changed her Christmas travel plans to be in town for the party. Jarrod talked me off the ledge several times in the month leading up to this and we had a good laugh that night about it. Cait, bless her heart, confessed she hadn’t called me for a month because she didn’t want to risk letting the cat out of the bag. Having so many of my favorite people in the same place at the same time probably will only happen for me one more time (spoiler alert: at our WEDDING!) because my friends are scattered up and down the Eastern Seaboard with a few outliers on the west coast.
As the night wound down, Ryan and I took the drink tickets his mom finagled with her room reservation (B-Tray is quite the negotiator) and got ourselves two Maker’s and gingers at the lobby bar and toasted to his party-planning skills and sneakiness. He has since used this sneakiness again during a trip to Syracuse, but that’s another story for another time.