Tuesday, March 06, 2007

my wonderful birthday!

a year ago, i was surrounded by friends at a bar, celebrating my birthday and having a good time. the only difference between last year and this year (besides that i'm an extra year older and better) is that the bar this time around is in holland.

it was my birthday over the weekend, and it was absolutely, incredibly wonderful. i honestly hadn't put a whole lot of effort or thought into my birthday this year because i really didn't know how i wanted to celebrate, who i wanted to celebrate with, or indeed if i even felt like celebrating at all. but since my birthday is, after all, the BEST day of the year, i decided i'd do just a little something to commemorate the most important day in history by at least inviting a few coworkers out for a drink or two on friday after work.

... and wouldn't you know it? like 25 people showed up! seriously!

i was so honored, and so happy, and felt completely and totally surrounded by love. and not that anyone had to get me anything, but a lot of people did. which means even more to me, that they took that extra effort to go out and get me something (a couple people even made my present!), when they hardly know me at all! they didn't have to do that! awwww, you guys!

so on friday i met up with a really sizeable group from work at a little cafe next to the old church in the center of enschede. here are a bunch of really bad pictures of my friends:

we stayed out until about 10:00, not too late, but still it was about 4 hours of celebrating. adam of course made me another obnoxious birthday hat. every year he tries harder and harder to make me a hat that's so ridiculous that i won't want to wear it. but the more ridiculous the hats are, the more attention i get, ergo the more i want to wear them. what's even more hilarious is that i think other people are embarassed to see me with this hat on. they're all, "omg, will you please take off that hat?!" and i'm all, "why? do you want to wear it cuz it's so cool?" anyway, it had a european/american theme to it since i spent half of last year in the u.s. and half of this year in europe. so there's the dutch symbol on it of a lion holding a sword, which apparently took adam like 2 hours to do, and then a star for the u.s. and some streamers from my bike, which are red, white, and blue, and then also he brought along a couple of markers so people could sign it and make it "interactive." nice!

on saturday i had another little party, this time with just a few close buddies from adam's work. stu, the american (he's a "doolie" and has dual citizenship in the uk, but he has an american accent so i just always call him "the american"), and johnnie and linn, the norwegians. (they've been teaching me how to swear in norwegian, and i feel SO SHAMEFUL about it. i keep having nightmares about mema -- my late grandmother -- coming back to haunt me because these words are just awful! to make up for it, i'm also having linn teach me the lord's prayer in norwegian so i can repent if i need to.) stu brought over a german board game that was more complex than it needed to be (imagine rock/paper/scissors but with antique collectibles and detectives) and we sat by the fire and drank wine.

i bought myself a birthday cake at the store along with some candles. they only had 24 candles, so i lit all of them, blew them out, and then lit 5 more and blew those out too. adam thought that was a little obnoxious, but whatever. it's not his birthday.

then on sunday i went to church in amsterdam and afterwards went out with about a half dozen people. we walked down to the leidseplein, a very funky area of town with bars, cafes, restaurants, street performers, and of course "coffeeshops." we went to an irish pub and drank an english beer that i can't seem to find anywhere out here (anyone ever heard of "old speckled hen"? it's not the greatest, but i drink it cuz i like the name.)

so this is the thing, really: i've only lived here for 6 months. i've only been at my job for 2 months. i'm still homesick and still lonely a lot of the time. but over the weekend, i had a dream. i dreamt that my best girl, teresa, came out to visit me here in the netherlands. and when she was here, i was showing her this beautiful garden outside my bedroom. (the garden isn't there in waking life, but there was one in my dream.) the garden was so big, so beautiful, and so sunny, and there were other people hanging out in my garden as i was showing it to teresa. and i kept commenting on how grateful i was for this beautiful space, and how i really should hang out in this garden more often. "i really don't take advantage enough of this place." and to me, that's the best present i could have given myself: the insight into how i've been living my life here. i do have friends. i do have love. and sometimes i'm so wrapped up in staying connected to boulder that i forget that i actually have a community out here that loves me and thinks i'm special. i really do feel so amazingly loved, with all those "virtual strangers" coming out to celebrate my birthday with me. but see, they aren't strangers. they really do like me and think i'm cool enough to have a beer with, and i'm starting to really get that now, you know?

so yeah. i had a really great birthday. really.


Carol n Rich said...

Happy belated birthday, Amber!! I knew your birthday was coming up... I'm older than you are so I can blame it on my old age :)

I'm so glad to hear that you had a good time. You have SOOOOOoooooOOOoo many friends. My oh my! I like you had numerous birthday celebrations; everyone should do that.

Speaking of which, Rich and I are getting married (again, but this time in the UK) mid July. Wanna come?

Oh yeah, The Speckled Hen or whatever it's called is my brother-in-law's favorite drink. I think that's because it comes in a huge bottle.

Anyway, nice work on the hat, Adam, and well done to you Amber, for making it another year!! hee hee.

Zhu ni sheng ri kuai le!
(Wish you birthday happy, in Chinese, in case you forgot!!)


Elizabeth said...

Ohmigod, I haven't even finished reading the post yet and I have to say this: You are such a dork. And I love it.

Okay, finishing the post now.

teresa said...

i love you and already KNEW there was a circle of goodness surrounding you.

"surely goodness and kindness shall follow you all the days of your life."