HAAAAPPY Birthday to me!

My birthday was on June 26. That was a while ago so I hope it's not too late to say that it was really good.

I'm the kind of person that has a panic attack each year before my birthday. Not because I fear getting older. I actually think I get a tad bit better with every passing year. (I liken myself to a fine bottle of wine...is that too much?) The problem is this:  I'm afraid of being sad and alone on my actual birthday day. Does anyone else get like that? I have plenty of friends, I don't know why I have this phobia... I guess it's just another drawer in my bureau of mental illness.

Cabinet of Neuroses

To avoid this problem (I'm really good at avoidance, it's a skill) I usually skip town. I understand that if I leave town for my birthday then the result will be that I am completely without friends, but ultimately it's on purpose so I do not allow myself to be sad.

I don't care if this doesn't make sense to you fair reader. I play games with my mind to survive.

However, this last year threw me for a loop for two major reasons. 

#1 I was in school (I'm a teacher) all the way up until the day before my birthday and I had a big trip planned five days later so it felt tricky to plan a mini-escape-because-I'm-scared-of-my-birthday-trip in such a short window of time. 
#2 Moving to Turkey was an attempt for me to stop letting fear run my life.

So I decided that I needed to be a big girl and take the plunge: I asked a few of my girlfriends if they wanted to join me for a birthday dinner the following week. They all promptly said no. This was discouraging seeing as how they were the people that graced me with their company most frequently.
However, all hope was not lost because a different dear friend invited me out to dinner specifically for my passing of age and I said yes. She asked politely if I wanted to invite any other folks -- I declined with the excuse that it was a busy time of year for everyone. 

Fast forward to the night of our dinner date. As I arrived home that afternoon she popped over and said to me in a stream of high energy, "Hi cutie - are you ready to celebrate your birthday with me tonight? - I love that dress you're wearing - you always look so nice - what about changing though - we are celebrating you and you never know what might happen - wear something that makes you feel like a princess - (insert a kiss on each cheek) - Ok - I'll stop by in an hour and we can go - see you soon!" and out she fluttered into the corridor as I stood just inside my apartment door, looking down at my outfit. I shrugged my shoulders, chuckled for a moment when I recognized the good fortune of attracting people into my life as random as myself, and changed so that I could attain a more princess-like look. 

This was approximately my final look.

An hour later, right on schedule, I heard a knock on my door and I was greeted with a fancy cocktail. Then I was whisked away to my favorite restaurant.

Have you figured it out yet? I hadn't.

When I walked upstairs to get seated for dinner I found a room full of practically every person I knew in Turkey. Everyone was wearing birthday hats and blowing noise makers. Upon my arrival they all yelled "SURPRISE!" (including several elderly Turkish men who just happened to be dining there that evening) and I nearly fainted. Long story short: It was one of the best moments in my life.

The evening went on in regular birthday fashion -- I just couldn't believe it was me in the birthday seat! Those sneaky friends of mine, god bless 'em.

As I sat down in the middle of a long table, my friends swapped seats around me and told me about how they lied and sneaked to keep the secret. What a bunch of sociopaths. They were so joyful about their web of lies. And as a laser light show began to flicker around me (side note: the show only happened on the half of the restaurant in which my friends sat - our own non-private light show if you will) a sultan hat was placed on my head.

My friend who placed the golden atrocity on my head said in confidentiality, "You have no idea how many circumcision shops I went into to find a legit one of these bad boys. No dice. Those motherf@c#ers are expensive. So this knock-off will have to do. Happy birthday."

I love my friends.

See? This is why lying is ok! A big old happy pile of lies.
Here is my take away: As I grow up I realize more and more that the things I am scared of are silly. It's exciting. It opens the world a little more each day. I can't wait to find out what I am not scared of next.