Twice over my birthday weekend, I heard that cheesy Baz Luhrman spoken word piece written as a mock graduation speech and played ad nauseum during its heyday. You know, the one written from the viewpoint of an older woman who's fairly sure she's figured a few things out.
Of all the unlikely birthday happenings - and there were several - one had to be the hour spent talking to my aunt/godmother, a woman I rarely see but with whom I share a passion for theater, ballet and the like. At 70-something, she has season tickets to the opera for the first time in her life. That fascinates me, that she's still trying new things.
I hear about the feminist meetings she went to when she was a young woman working at the World Bank on early computers and how strident she found some of the organizers. How even though she never had children, she's appalled at the parenting she sees today. How she resented being picked up from school and missing a school play because I was being born and my Grandfather wanted company at home.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded.
On the other hand, you will never be younger than you are today, so why not smile when the phones come out for birthday pictures? Although we're still tallying up the results, birthday photos appear to have been taken at Metzger, Nota Bene, L'Opossum, Acacia and Lucca. Only Garnett's was spared.
So. Much. Documentation. ("At least I'm not Instagramming it!" one photographer says).
The tasting menu and wine pairings at Acacia made for a beautifully leisurely meal with exquisite bites -white anchovies over radicchio, skate wing, venison over farro, melon soup, tuna tartare, calamari with curry - following sublime sips (thoughtfully chosen, as with Newton Cabernet Sauvignon or delightfully different as with Kesselstatt Riesling tasting of lime and stone fruit), set to a soundtrack that included Chaka Khan and Barry White.
Came home to a friend's message improvising a song about my extended birthday celebrating, a tuneful message that uses up every second of the recording mocking me.
I do, every day, before I go out to have my evening adventure, having taken up the habit when I read that doing so could add six years to my life. Do you know how much fun I could have in those six years? When I told a friend this is why I took up flossing, she responds, "Of course it is."
We managed to close down Acacia, with Robinson Street long since having rolled up the sidewalks, me clutching three itineraries in my hand. How to choose?
Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or what other people think of it.
After a sunny lunch at Garnett's with an old radio friend who insists on double chocolate chess pie to celebrate, I go into full birthday girl mode, meaning I had a massage (hella good birthday gift) and then went to Victoria's Secret to buy bras, including a purple one that fellow Gemini Prince would have given the thumbs' up to.
For that matter, as I got ready to go out tonight I listened to the radio playing all Dylan and Dylan covers in tribute to my fellow Gemini's 75th birthday today.
Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few, you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.
That would be Leo and Bonnie, she another fellow Gemini. I love when you two remind me how little and how much I have changed.
Tonight's social companion is another fellow Gemini and when she comes to pick me up, I suggest we walk. My jaw drops when she tells me she's worn cute shoes and prefers to drive. Not ten minutes earlier, I'd chosen sensible shoes over cute, just about certain she'd show up ready to hit the pavement.
"Go put on your cute shoes," she directs me and I do.
Whether anyone at Lucca notices or not is debatable, but the feast we enjoy constitutes all the food - Maryland and Newfoundland oysters, an octopus and potato salad that could inspire poetry, clams in green garlic sauce, mushroom and Gruyere risotto, charcuterie and cheese, roasted calamari with fresh garbanzo beans and mushrooms - leaves us so full that even our shoes feel a tad tight on our feet.
Then I remember my mother's rule that everyone has a corner in their stomach for dessert, so we gorge on chocolate hazelnut crostada and panna cotta.
And travel to romantic places while you still have a romantic bone left in your body. Like Dublin...or Vienna, Prague and Budapest...or Paris and the Loire. But definitely travel, and not with hot rollers or there will be ultimatums.
Advice is a form of nostalgia.
Power and beauty fade, albeit a bit more slowly with judicious use of sunscreen, but birthdays are forever. Or at least a solid week or so.