Memories from Past Birthdays: A Musing

The house is asleep except for the plonking of the keyboard on the living room sofa. A cloudless, baby blue color painted the sky. Inches of white sugary ice caked the ground. The trees weigh heavy with fresh snow.

Most people wished for a white Christmas and New Year’s, but it didn’t come until today, my birthday. I can’t wish for a perfect setting, except we’re on a lockdown again.

I don’t hold a treasure trove of ‘feel-good-memories’ on my special day, not until I got married. They never involve gifts, although, it’s nice to receive them too.

The notables involve the relationships I cherish the most, whether for the particular season or a mainstay in my life.

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(Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

In my high school days, I remember mama making Filipino-style spaghetti -- it’s rare to find her in the kitchen -- and sacrificing our below-average-household-budget for two loaves of sliced bread and two liters of coke.

I invited my best girls over. It wasn’t easy for them to come. First, it’s after the New Year. Second, I’m that classmate who lives far out from the rest. It’s an understatement to write, I’m extremely grateful. Plus, that was the first birthday celebration I’ve had in my entire life.

The next happened a few years after I became a career woman. Another highschool best friend encumbered himself to personally give me my birthday presents. One was carefully wrapped in a square box. Inside were cupcakes with colorful letter toppings, forming the greeting ‘Happy Birthday’. The other was a small-size teddy bear, the length of a regular water glass, which I've lost after relocating from place to place.

After the gift-giving, we went for pizza. It was expensive in relation to both our incomes, but we didn’t mind. Money couldn’t price the happiness we share inside.

Then, we agreed to visit the mall. My best friend heard that a promising young actor -- in the name of Coco Martin -- is appearing for a special event. We made haste to the venue before the actor’s scheduled appearance.

As we near the mall's parking lot, a crowd greeted us. My best friend held my hand tight, as we squeezed our way near the stage so we won’t lose each other. I haven’t noticed many lady fans in our spot. Most were teenagers and gay and they were the liveliest bunch. I couldn’t stop laughing from the latter’s antics while waiting.

When the actor finally came out (they usually turn up late to build up the anticipation), I got swerved to the unruly ripples of the crowd. Electrifying screams from jubilant juveniles filled the area. I let out an expression of surprise to find the actor shorter than expected. He looks a few inches tall on TV. Still, his talent is enough reason for people’s admiration.

The event ended sooner than we expected. My best friend and I couldn’t stop chatting about the brief afternoon entertainment for a few hours before parting ways. Even today, we still talk about it.

Oh, how I miss his company. He is such a fun and positive influence in my life.

Now that I live a thousand miles away from family and friends, I’m grateful I get to celebrate my special day with my own. Last year, we drove two hours away to Montreal for ramen and sightseeing. Many moons ago -- back in 2015 -- I celebrated my special day in the US, two days after we move to Austin, Texas


As the house stirs to wake up,  my 3-year-old speed towards my direction for his daily dose of mommy embrace. As I wrap my arms around him, I thought of our plans for the day. Perhaps sip my favorite peach juice drink with coconut jelly and feast on chili lobster. I hope The Magic of Lights on Ottawa is still ongoing. But no matter how this day ends, I get to spend it with my special people.

They are the ones that make a truly happy birthday.