A Thing or Two About Life: A Birthday Chronicle

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A photo of the besties in costume for their big performance honoring/teasing my aunt

My aunt turned the big 6-0.

She’ll probably kill me for broadcasting this to the world.  But I think it’s necessary for my purposes.

Mostly because, it’s kind of a big deal.  In Russian, we call this a “circular date.”  A milestone.  Something huge that deservedly requires something grand to mark its presence.

To commemorate, my aunt invited friends and family from our town, other states and other countries.  I’m pretty sure she invited everyone she knew.  Old friends, new friends, relatives I’ve never met and neighbors who treat me like family.

She decided to put aside that whole “shit I’m getting older” situation and decided to have a big damn blow out.

And we applauded her.

And we braced ourselves.

Because we knew this meant a “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” style party, during which we would eat enough food for 30 days and those of us “youth” would stare with mouth agape wondering how it was possible we ever made any friends.

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One of the tables. It could have fed a 1st world army. Instead it fed 50 of my aunt’s closest friends.

Unfortunately, this post isn’t about my eventful childhood (we’ll save that for later).  It’s about my aunt’s choice to ring in her important birthday with a positive attitude and a hell of a lot of fun.

She always tells me about the parties she and her friends throw together.  The kind of fun they conjure up, seemingly from nothing.  When she phones me to catch up, the conversation inevitably turns to some gathering these friends had and the songs, skits, poems, readings and/or ensembles they put together.

My aunt’s birthday offered me a peek into their traditions.

These weren’t ordinary toasts.  The MC’s main job was passing the microphone around from group of friends to group of friends so they could start on their “prepared piece” in honor of my aunt.

My expressions went from awed shock to laughter.

And at the risk of showing the world the insanity that is a birthday party in “my culture,” I’ve attached the video of one of the performances here – my favorite one.  Where they dressed up in “Ukrainian wear” and sang a Ukrainian folk song in jest to tease my aunt.

You don’t need to watch all 2 minutes and 48 seconds of this video.  I realize it’s a lot to ask.  But should you choose to click on the link below, keep in mind that these women are dentists, lawyers, doctors and engineers by day.  Also – I had no idea they even knew how to speak Ukrainian (my family speaks Russian).  Also – I had no idea our friend the MC could play the accordion.  Or that people still played the accordion.

It was absolutely ridiculous.

But so damn fun.

I’m thinking my aunt and her friends have a thing or 2 figured out.  Maybe they know how real fun is had.

Between catching up with my cousin and family friends, dancing with my boyfriend, my uncle and my dad, stuffing myself with deliciousness, taking hundreds of photos, and watching my family members dance together, I was absolutely caught up and living in the moment.

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My dad dancing with his sister, the birthday girl.

Admittedly, I enjoyed myself thoroughly.

We laughed.  We danced.  We sang.

What more can a person ask for?

Awesome.

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The Art of the Goodbye Party

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On T-7 days until the big move (Chicago, are you ready?!), I got appropriately dressed for going away party number one.

Having come to New York right after college and spent five years in the glorious city – I decided (and friends approved) that inviting a slew of individuals to one of our favorite bars from our “just-out-of-college” days was the best way to proceed.

I reserved half the bar for myself and said brood of (sophisticated) jaeger-bomb loving friends.

To start the night, we held a “pre-game” at my brother’s apartment and appropriately took some shots and made some toasts to start the night.

Feeling pretty happy and ready to party like its 2007…. We made our way to one of my beloved bars to properly say goodbye to New York City.

The night was a fantastic success.

I found the following to be essential to my fond memories (in no order):

– A tiara (No, it’s not my birthday. Yes, I pretended it was half the night.)

– A throne (The bar had a wooden throne. I utilized this surprising item to my fullest enjoyment.)

– Vodka

– Friends from all walks of life that reminded me of the great life I’d built

– New friends (brought by old friends.)

– My brother

– Angry bouncers (how I’ll miss your spunk old friends.)

I was my hyper self.  I took random photos that looked absurd in the morning.  I shared nachos with 20 people.  I danced.  I hugged (a lot of people). I made new friends.  I spent time with old friends.  I celebrated.

Hung-over breakfast was even sweeter than usual.

Awesome.