My birthday was this week, and it sort of came and went as the wind. The actual day of my birthday some how ended up just watching Arrested Development with my roommate then later a few friends dropped by to help me eat some cake. That fun and all but it wasn’t outside my normal life. I had had bigger plans, but due to schedule conflicts and lack of preparation of my own fault, I was pretty committed to wearing sweatpants and eating Cheetos. There would be no getting me out that night.
It wasn’t until later while we were chatting about, oh I dunno let’s say The Ultimate Justice League, I understood the nagging sensation that had been trying to get through to me all day. I couldn’t get too worked up about turning thirty simply because it is the smallest thing that will happen to me this year. Most people benchmark thirty as when they enter true adulthood; that your twenties were supposed to be practice and this is graduation day. I went into this birthday with nothing to fear about moving into the next stage of life. I am prepared as I’ll ever be; my self-worth isn’t tied to a youthful image, for the first time in my life I feel like I have a clear and defined path toward my goals, and I have my partner for life who will make sure to get me there. Hell, we’ve already begun preparing to start our family in the next 2-3 years. So with no reason to fear thirty, I had no reason to extravagantly say goodbye to my adolescence. That happened the day I got engaged anyway. With no fear of the years that lay before me, the only reason left to celebrate was simply because I am alive and grateful.
Well I do that everyday!
In fact, I seem to do so most frequently on Tuesdays. It was never an official decree, but Tuesdays seems to be the day that my tribe comes together. It tends to be the day when most of us are free and we can enjoy evening of frivolity, games, adventure, and leisure. These nights have become the highlight of my week. For myself, they are a reminder to celebrate and be grateful everyday. This Tuesday in particular especially so, for we would be celebrating my birthday, this new chapter of life, as well as our friend Jon, who just had his first day at his new job.
It was determined we’d go out on Tuesday night to celebrate. With Jack and Mich at rehearsal for the new VarieTEASE (opening March 11), I went about getting things taken care of, car chores, things like that. After rehearsal, they scooped me up from the mechanic’s and we head home where we would be met by Tex and Phil. I have a rather specific collection of friends, either tall, muscular men, or tiny but also physically solid women. The rule is you can’t sit with us if you don’t train. Also, if left untasked for any period of time, some sort of training will happen. In this case, when Jack and I leave to pick up his car, the boys are outside playing with sticks but by the time we return, they’re expertly practicing staff fighting choreography. Basically my friends are all Spartans, top of their game, and I am in constant amazement that they let me hang out with them because all I do anymore is sit in the corner and write everything down.
This tendency toward spontaneity is also why we have a great deal of difficulty getting anything involving planning done. At no point have we actually discussed where to get food. At some point Taco Tuesday at Rocco’s Tacos became a good idea, so we pile in and go for a drive. Indulge me for a moment, I want to share a video with you.
I fucking love my friends. (click this if it didn’t work I’m still new)
Anyway, so off we go. As we approach the writhing collection of humanity that is Sand Lake road and I begin to feel unsettled. Rocco’s Tacos is tucked into a very posh strip mall which is mirrored by another very posh strip mall. You have restaurants ranging from as fine as Ruth Chris or Bonefish grill for your very important celebrations, to Jimmy John’s for when all you want to do is go home and take off your pants. This draws a fascinating cross-section of species from all over social and economic classes. That also means it draws in a lot of people on a Tuesday night, which means crowds. Crowds are not how I wanted to spend my birthday celebration. Also, I’ma little worried to admit it, but I’m fairly certain that my unease about Taco Tuesday was simply paranoia feeding my imagination and I’d convinced myself that The Lego Movie was actually trying to warn me. Besides, if we were going to do fresh mex, I was kinda hoping for Tijuana Flats anyway. Fish Tacos and a Pacifico are all I need to make me happy. However, I’m at a weird place in life where I’m trying to learn the difference between listening to my instincts and ignoring the little voice that says stay in your comfort zone. It’s pretty hard to tell the difference and usually if it comes down to nothing more than disinterest in trying something new, then I ignore it. Not sure which this is, I go along for the ride
The parking lot is full. Somehow we luck out and get a spot in the very front of the row in front of Tijuana Flats. At this point I’m wondering if it’s a sign or if I should say something, but no today we try something new. So into the posher restaurant we go.
Upon discovering it’s a forty five minute wait, we leave. Not our crowd anyway, the people crammed into the booths are all dressed in their finest business casual attire. Our group runs the fashion spectrum somewhere between hippie comfort, punk attitude, and bro levels of tank top obsession. There are five of us standing in the door, in tank tops, unquafed hair, and comfortable shoes. They’re all drinking cocktails and speaking loudly to be heard over the ever increasing presence of noise and no one figuring out that if they all just spoke softer, no one would have to shout in the first place). The people waiting have the most miserable and impatient looks on their faces. “Fourty five minute wait? Outrageous! But I do want tacos and there’s no where else in town to get tacos, so I guess I’ll wait.” By the way, that is a lie, there are millions of great taco places in this town and I should do an article on them. Knowing this ourselves, we leave. We call Jon, who will be meeting us, that plans have changed. I’m so happy we’re going to T-Flats my inner child is skipping along in joy until Phil mentions sushi. Now my brain comes to a screeching hault. Oh no, now I have to choose, sushi or tacos? I looooooove me some Tijuana Flat’s fish tacos, I don’t order them as much simply to keep them special but sushi is, well, sushi. There’s just no competing. I had been craving sushi on my actual birthday but Jack and I had just enjoyed a lavish sushi dinner for Valentine’s so I had not mentioned it. Now that Phil had implanted the idea into all our minds, I’d been freed from the guilt of feeling greedy or predictable. So we squeeze back into the car, and head off for Dragonfly Sushi, call Jon to let him know there’s another change of plans and begin to drive away. Our first move should have been to call the restaurant because on the way we find out there is no way they could seat us for another two hours. On a Tuesday Night.
This is why nobody likes living in Orlando. We work minimums of 40 hour weeks, sometimes more depending on your student loans, and there is no true end to the week. The largest part of our workforce is working 9am-5pm one day and 5am-9pm the next. There’s no real weekend because sometimes you work two days, then have a day off, then a half day, then three full days in a row, then the fiscal week starts over and you’re working four days in a row but after having just worked three days. Technically you’ve just worked seven days in a row with no compensation for it, you get two days off to try to catch up and then right back to the grind. And it really is a meat grinder. But that’s a tale for my new project, Love Punk.
So we turn the car around once more and we call up Jon, who is an intelligent and resourceful man and decided to just park and wait for us to call when we were being seated. We end up at a place called Bento’s, a nice, mid range sushi shop with a relaxed atmosphere that can seat us immediately and bring me a simple beer. And suddenly it all made sense. This was the place to be on the night it was meant to be. I began my chapter of “young adult” sitting at a sushi bar with a few close friends on my twenty first birthday, and here I am now at thirty, 30 days from my wedding, 6 days before the honeymoon, and 100 days before our vacation to Bonnaroo. Here I stand on the precipice of the rest of my life and knowing I have all I need to make it as a full fledged adult because I have a wealth of love. Everyone is laughing, telling stories of the great parties they’d been to, favourite birthday moments, excitement for the plans we have ahead of us. At one point we seriously discuss the idea of starting a traveling vaudeville show, and I’m ready to pack what I can fit in a trunk, sell off the rest, and be on our way. I don’t know what other people get for their thirtieth birthday, but the promise and adventure of shared goals is pretty tantalizing for me.
Eventually the waitress reminds us we came to eat by arriving with our food. We’d each ordered a sushi combo box. You select two rolls and you get four pieces from each, as well as the california roll (which everyone loves but nobody wants to admit), and two sides, a seaweed salad and cucumber soaked in something dark brown, watery and delicious. After the initial feeding frenzy of garlic and spicy edamames, our ravenous appetites were being patient enough for diplomacy. I don’t know how the rest of the world does sushi, but I am a sharer and I will only eat sushi with other people that share. It is just a better system. Everyone gets a little bit of everything, you don’t have to worry about picking the “right roll”, and nobody is given the stigma of “mooch”.
What, am I the only one that feels incredibly stressed out when eating with people that don’t share? Well fine, you can’t sit with us anyway.
What was really amused me was the system of trade we’d established. The group then began to ooh and aah over the spread. Jack and I essentially count as one person and since we already knew what we wanted from each other’s plates, we started to trade. Then he put out a plate with a few pieces and encouraged the rest to take what they want. After everyone took a piece of sushi they replaced with something they wished to share with the group. Once that plate was done, I put out my own offering and was quite delighted by what returned. I’m not entirely sure if this feat of diplomacy, cooperation, and teamwork continued after I’d received my plate because my eyes rolled back, my jaw unhinged, and I began to devour. As the plates grew more bare and frenzy was reduced to a comfortable pace, the little gluttons that operate my brain began to figure out what to do for dessert. Yes there was the marvelous cake that Jack had made at home, but there is a place for Fro-Yo just around the corner. I began to go through all the mental hoops I must jump to justify having a decadent treat. I just had cake yesterday, but it is my birthday, I have my honeymoon coming up and I’ve already been pretty indulgent, but I’m no where near not fitting into my bikini. Jon is also celebrating, he approved in a new role at the park, but then again it’s not fair we’re doing all this on my birthday, I don’t want to take away from his accomplishments.
The delicious cake that Jack made.
I must have had smoke coming out of my ears at some point because I look up to Michelina, who is right across from me. Our eyes meet and, as so often happens when they do, we both burst out into tremendous laughter. Once our cackling subsides, we inform the group that we’ll be going to fro-yo after this. That’s no typo, we don’t go and get frozen yogurt; the way we do it, Fro-Yoing is a verb. So we wrap up our sushi experience and head out into the night to Fro-Yo. Fun Fact about Jack, Jon, Tex or Phil. At any point, if at least two are within 50ft of one another, they will burst out into song and dance. It’s just a scientific fact, you would have known that if you’d watched the video. And sure enough, we sang and danced our way right through the front of some high end restaurant with judgy valets who were actually just jealous we had they night off and they didn’t. What amazes me most about these impromptu jams is the level of skill they demonstrate and the rhythms and beats they just all seem to organically find for themselves. I’m fairly certain my friends all get together without me and rehearse.
Menchi’s frozen yogurt shop has become an unintentional birthday tradition for me. We ended up there last year and here we find ourselves again! The details are fuzzy, but I feel like the song continued into the empty store. A poor, lone register girl greeted us cheerfully but had no idea of the swarm of locusts that had just descended upon the quiet little shop. The volume of noise in the store immediately jumped 50 decibles due to our uproarious laughter and boisterous converstaions. We wove in and out and around each other and the few other customers that had filtered in behind us as we sampled EVERYTHING! At one point I found myself bewteen a polite looking woman and her male companion. The man was a tall, gaunt fellow with thin but pronounced features who looked like every professional runner I’ve ever seen but had managed to take very good care of his skin. He sharply spoke, “Jack, did you see this?” Startled, I turned around to look at him, as did the woman with him. As did all the rest of our group, looking on with confusion.Who was this man and why is he so concerned with what Jack sees? The woman who’d come with him also looked, “Oh that does look yummy.” The tension breaks and we all laugh, explaining we too had a Jack in our midst. Even with this new knowledge, everytime he spoke her name, we all stopped and looked, like giant meerkats hopped up on sugar.
The rest of the night was spent the way many a great night is ended. On the couch, cartoon movie on the tv, and great conversations until I can’t keep my eyes open any more. If you can think of a better way to spend a birthday, keep it. I have everything I need.
Ps: If you were wondering, that movie is the Jetson’s movie. I have no idea what happens other than the daughter fucks a blue teenage alien and the Sprocket company is just as bad as the Thneed company, but run by adorable little aliens that look like someone let a gremlin fuck a tribble. You probably only need half a dose of acid for that one.