Some birthdays are more memorable than others. Sweet sixteen on the beaches of Florida, I can finally use valid identification to go to the bar with my wrestling team 19th (if you are in Ontario), the 25th “break your nose on the side of a van” pirate themed party, and the 30th in Boston on St Paddy’s Day with my favourite people (need I say more). I can confidently add the 32nd to the list.
First off, I think I need to talk about my dark side. My fatal flaw. I suffer from a self-imposed “condition” or what is self-diagnosed as birthday princess-itis. Loosely described as the neurotic implementation of high expectations on your social circle (and any other passers by who are game to participate) to stop and celebrate your day of birth. It is the annual opportunity to justify my desire to be the centre of attention and hold the stage for 24 straight hours. And in exchange for your undivided attention I continue to promise and deliver 24 straight hours of entertainment at my expense. Gifts are not required but definitely enjoyed as all I want is your time and sense of humour / adventure. And, on top of all of that, if things end up getting out of hand, you have apologetic coffees, chocolate and repaired / dry-cleaned clothing to look forward to the following day. So in my mind, it is an equitable arrangement.
I can honestly say that I was not expecting anything this year. New to Vancouver, having left all my friends and loved ones who understand just how neurotic I am about my birthday, I had done a pretty good job of lowering expectations as low as a birthday princess could. I kept plans low key and flexible. Wowza, was my mind blown with how awesome my day went!
I awoke to the long distances birthday wishes of my family and best friends in Ontario (who were 3 hours ahead and patiently waiting to be the first to call) and Calgary. I chatted up a storm all morning as I made my way to the top of Grouse mountain where, donning my green tiara, I spiked my coffee with Jameson’s and took in the breathtaking views of the city below and the ships cruising into the harbour.
I made it down into the city feeling extremely zen. I received my first birthday present from my friend and talented hairdresser at BangTown who couldn’t join the festivities that night so he, with his magic wand (aka. curling iron and 5 pounds of hair product), ensured I looked fabulous from the scalp up. I felt like a true diva. Then, with my fabulous new hair style, I was given one of the coolest birthday presents yet. I was invited to experience the process of choreographing a bad-ass fight scene for a film. Yes folks, for my birthday, I got to be a stand-in villain who gets killed by the anti-hero. The real present came when I was able to contribute one of my former wrestling moves to the fight which led to a “good job Andrea” pat on the back from the stunt choreographer. A moment which gave me a non-caffinated high for the rest of the day (and much into the following week).
Finally it was show time. Exposing my new friends to the gong-show, alter-ego that is the birthday princess. I was decked out in my birthday dress, tiara, green helium balloon attached to my wrist and carried a green purse stalked with green beads, leprechaun tattoos and a deck of cards (because a birthday princess is always prepared). My designated birthday buddy kicked off the event with TMNT (teenage mutant ninja turtles for those of you not raised by late 80’s cartoons) shots and escorted me down to Olympic Village where a group of new parkour and circus friends ate, drank and laughed at a pub. I even got the thrill of watching some of the reactions of those who were quite shocked and taken back by this loud, sailor-mouthed, enjoyer of awkward moments with the helium balloon reattached to her green tiara. My circus training buddy made me a beautiful necklace, others generously shared a variety of shots / beers and another friend managed to make an appearance after flying all day from Europe. How lucky am I!
I woke up the next morning with aching cheeks from smiling and a deep appreciation for the awesome friends I have made in Vancouver. They’re freaking keepers! Another incredible birthday for the books and further justification to leave the birthday princess-itis uncured.