I love my birthday. Birthdays in general, actually. But I especially love mine. My first birthday was spent in Disney World. Maybe that’s part of the reason why I feel the need to return time and again. A pilgrimage of sorts. I’ve had a myriad of birthday parties and the like. Bowling was a recurring one when I was still in those single digits. There was a year that an amusement park was opened just for us (my brother and I share birthdays in the same week) because my dad was buddies with the owner. I’m not a huge party person, though. As I got older, the more I realized the large groups of people was not my style. So it became sleepovers and dinner at Gino’s (my favorite restaurant) and a hike or trip to Great Adventure or carving pumpkins with my closer friends.
Instead of a Sweet 16 party that probably costs more than some people’s weddings the way some people throw these festivities, I went to Disney World with my family. Way better than a night of getting dressed up and dancing and being with a lot of people who you really don’t get to spend time with. To me at least. People like different things and that’s good for them. I like spending time with me and my close people. And even that has to be controlled. I am close to a lot of people. I never thought I’d say that, but I am. I have a LOT of close friends who I would literally do anything for and who would reciprocate that. But I still don’t won’t to spend time with all of those people I love and care about all at once. If I ever get married, that’s going to be a struggle! Anyway.
When I turned 20, I was living in Germany and my boyfriend at the time came to visit me for the weekend. He got there on my birthday and we did touristy things in Munich before heading to Austria to go skiing on a glacier. I like to go all out for my birthdays! The very idea of being by myself on my birthday was outrageous to me. I couldn’t be alone! That would be more than depressing. But merely five years later, I almost welcomed the idea. At first, I was disappointed when I found out I had to work on my birthday. I haven’t had to work or go to school on my birthday in six years! And that meant I couldn’t go to the Big Island with my parents as originally planned. But I ended up making the most out of the day.
After work, I rented a jeep and set off for Aulani, A Disney Resort (I swear, they don’t pay me to advertise). I thoroughly enjoyed their hydro garden I had access to at the spa prior to my massage (this experience deserves it’s own post: I promise you it’s worth it though if I don’t get to writing about it in more detail), and then I had dinner at their fancy restaurant on the water. A table set for one. I’m pretty sure my waiter felt sorry for me (or maybe he didn’t care at all, but he seemed confused nevertheless). I was once in those shoes. I distinctly recall a woman who ate at Gino’s every week on her own. I know this because I too ate at Gino’s every week back in the day with my mom or a friend or anyone really. Sometimes multiple times in a week! I used to feel bad for her. She was older and usually had a book. I thought of her often when I was going to meet people at a restaurant and I was the first person there and the like. It was uncomfortable being there alone for 5 minutes, let alone a whole meal.
As I traipsed through Europe and jet-setted throughout the US on my own, I avoided dining out alone. Take out and microwaveable options were my go to choices. Food carts weren’t too bad either. But eating a meal by myself in a restaurant was the awkward experience. It’s crazy how much my thoughts on this have changed. Much like traveling by myself is one of my more looked forward to adventures now, eating dinner in public by myself is no longer an issue. While it’s still not at the top of my list of things to do, I don’t really care anymore if I want to try their food or simply miss eating somewhere. I find it remarkable how much a few years can change perception.