Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Princess for a day... or two


The tiara that "J" made me, the birthday girl, wear on Sunday

Well, what was meant to start off as an uneventful birthday, ended up being one of multiple celebrations. I hadn’t planned on any major celebrations AT ALL. After the age of 30 what’s another birthday? Just another day. My parents generously offered to take me and several of my close friends out for dinner on the actual day- the 31st. I thought it was quite a loving gesture. These days it’s not about the gifts or a wish list. In fact, I think I’d have to think long and hard to write up a wish list. Guess I’m just that lucky! …and generally content with my life. Besides, some things I’d like are not the sort that could be listed on a wish list, nor are they things that anyone could actually buy or give to me.

Then one of my dear new friends of late- "J", who lives up in Taipei found out it was my birthday and offered to organize a birthday dinner for me in Taipei on Sunday night. So out went the email and several text messages. At first it seemed like it was just going to be a small gathering of 3 or 4 friends who had also planned to get together late in the afternoon around 5:00pm at The WALL to catch some bands on the Rose Tour, which was promoting the TAIWANATION bracelet. We planned on cutting out for dinner at 7:00pm.

People in Taipei are notoriously last minute about getting together socially. People always seem to do things on the fly. Forget the rules. There just seems to be a mutual understanding and acceptance that you’ll be there for your friends when they call you up to have dinner or drinks in a few hours, if not, then there’s always next time, or later. By Sunday afternoon, my phone was ringing non-stop and text messages started flying back and forth. In the end there were about 12 or so friends who ended up at my birthday dinner! I was pleasantly surprised by all of the friends who made an effort to come. We had a fun, casual dinner at a dim sum place in the area around National Taiwan University. At times I felt somewhat displaced, as if I was in a Chinatown restaurant; we sat upstairs on red satin covered chairs at a big round table, eating dim sum dishes off of a lazy susan; a bright neon sign shone just outside of the large window at the opposite end of the room, looking out onto the street where crowds of people were milling around below- in and out of the alleys- which were lined with various food carts and night market stalls.

Afterwards, we debated about what to do and where to go on a Sunday night. When the café that we finally settled on going to ended up being closed, we ended up at this lovely tea house “a la English high tea style”. What a contrast to dinner over dim sum! Inside were elegant wood tables and arm chairs, walls of tea cups and china displayed, in soft, warmly lit rooms. I’ll definitely consider going back there on a lazy day for relaxing afternoon tea.

After taking a 7:00am flight back to Kaohsiung, and catching a few more zzz’s that morning before teaching in the afternoon, I rushed home to get ready for another birthday dinner Monday night. This time I had dinner with my parents and four of my closest girlfriends in Kaohsiung. There was no cake because I’m not really a fan of cake and who needs the extra calories?

But what’s a birthday without a cake or at least a candle to blow out? So during dinner, one of my friends "C" slipped out to buy a cake at a nearby bakery. I guess the cake is as much for the people who want to celebrate the “birthday star’s” day, as it is for the birthday person. It’s always fun to blow out the candle, to make a wish, to have hopes and dreams and to feel so loved and cherished.

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