Yesterday was my birthday, and like last year’s extravaganza, I kicked off the celebrations by hosting a house party the night before. I went with a summery theme for the food, making a whole bunch of dips (French onion, buffalo chicken, crab dip, and yogurt fruit dip), two massive pots of low country boil, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. I also muddled some basil with lemonade for a simple drink that could either be non-alcoholic as a standalone, or mixed with vodka or bourbon for something a bit punchier.
After the birthday eve party, though, my actual birthday yesterday was pretty low-key. I had originally planned on a long hike, but the weekend turned out to be incredibly hot.
After taking into account the extreme heat and how late we stayed up the night before, Adam and I decided to cancel the hike in favor of a rather indulgent day of laziness. We spent the morning lying around watching HGTV, the afternoon stopping by an ice cream shop and then doing some chores, and the evening going out for an early dinner and then getting to bed before our early morning flights.
Although it wasn’t quite the lavish affair my 30th birthday was, it was really peaceful and refreshing in its own way. It’s rare that I relax at home without a set schedule, and it was a treat to get to do that with Adam, since we don’t see each other as much as we’d like. And while we weren’t doing a coordinating-wardrobes-fully-scheduled beer bar crawl, the day turned out to have a theme of its own: nostalgia.
This year, my mom got me a really unique birthday present: she made a donation in my name to Luzerne Music Center, the music camp I attended for several summers. My family would never have been able to afford the tuition for a month long sleepaway camp, but I was lucky enough to receive scholarships from the camp to attend, and I’m so thrilled to be able to pay that forward for other kids. I hadn’t thought about my summers at Luzerne in years, but as I reflected back, I realized that they were really life-changing.
I spent at least half an hour telling Adam about my summers at Luzerne, and I realized I could remember so many minute details of camp: the Monday night chamber concerts, the “fripperies” my brass quintet worked for hours on, and even the names of so many campers and staff members and all the adventures we’d have. Prior to camp, I was the nerdy kid at school that everyone picked on. But at camp, I met dozens of other kids who loved music as much as I did, and in that safe environment I came out of my shell to become a lot more confident, even winning the “most congenial camper” award by the end of my first summer. I went back to school with a completely different attitude, and even though I’m not much of a musician today, I think those summers at Luzerne were a big part in shaping my personality and making me who I am today. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to go to Luzerne, and I’m so thankful to my mom for providing such a thoughtful gift that not only paid it forward to others but also brought back so many happy memories.
My evening last night was also reminiscent of my childhood. We started with dinner at Macaroni Grill, where I always asked to go for my birthday dinners as a kid. And then when we got home, intending to catch up on an episode or two of Madam Secretary, we instead got caught up watching the US Olympic Gymnastics Trials. I honestly haven’t paid any attention to Olympic gymnastics in recent years, but when I was little, my friends and I would play “gymnasts”. Obsessed with the Magnificent Seven (the 1996 US Olympic Gymnastics team), we’d spend hours picking characters and then cartwheeling around my friend Sarah’s living room, jumping off the couches and “vaulting” over the coffee table. It was so fun to watch the amazing gymnasts that comprise this year’s Fierce Five (even though I knew nothing about what to look for in a good performance), and it’s gotten me pretty excited for Rio in a few weeks.
All in all, I spent a lot of the weekend looking back to my childhood… but that’s not a bad thing at all. I’m proud to see how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown, and am looking forward to seeing what the next year brings too. There is already quite a bit of change afoot!