Grumpy cat inspired- don't let the looks fool you.
Grumpy cat inspired- don’t let the looks fool you.

From the beginning of last Monday, September 30th, until today- it has felt like a constant and unending celebration, understated- yet remarkable, extravagant. From the moment I fell asleep on the eve of my birthday, New Order’s “Ceremony” kept ringing through my head- faintly, softly- but a gentle reminder of the dazzling commemoration of life that comes yearly, if you’re so blessed. The words softly padding through my consciousness every so often:

“This is why events unnerve me,
They find it all, a different story,
Notice whom for wheels are turning,
Turn again and turn towards this time,
All she ask’s the strength to hold me,
Then again the same old story,
World will travel, oh so quickly; travel first and lean towards this time.”

Rather, the onset of the birthday jitters that I so eagerly try to offset, began slightly earlier that night on the 29th when I watched “The Kings of Summer“, a film which onset such nostalgia that I felt like I had drunk a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (I hadn’t, for the record) to bring the onset of emotions I felt as I watched the lead character and his best friend encounter the anxieties, excitements, and downfalls of adolescence in all it’s meticulously planned chaos. It reminded me much of that exact time of me life- the pulling , itching, primal desire to be free, to be a woman of my own, to push forth into territory unknown and make it mine- even if I wasn’t truly ready to in any way. I think back to lounging about with Brooke Miller in her second to oldest brother’s room, sneakily listening to his music and talking about our futures. The men who would eventually sweep up off our feet and take us to Paris and Rome, the dark hair they would brush from their eyes, and the songs we would marry to. She, to Sigur Ros’ “Staralfur” and I, Explosions in the Sky “First Breath After a Coma”.

After thirteen years of her being my partner, not in my crimes, but in life and all of it’s gritty and exquisite affairs- I left for Cambodia, where I met a new best friend, not one to replace, but to step in- the man who would sweep my off my feet and brush the dark hair from his eyes and take me to Rome, well, maybe not yet- but to Kep. She, finding the gentleman I like to call “Point Break” for his Santa Cruz drawl and natural ability to surf and excel in all things Southern California, his hair long and blonde – they whisking off to Yosemite Valley before it recently closed from American government shut downs. Lucky break, kids.

On my birthday, I entered my twenty fourth year of life. Many say that’s young, others say I should be well on my way to children and a mortgage. Rather, I feel almost like I’ve been hung on a wire hanger in time by the scruff of my neck, on more difficult days; with a rusted chain link around my wrists- waiting for the next chapter to unfold, for the next thick, creamy page to turn to a a paragraph that will resolve all my notions that have gone unchecked or noticed, give me the answers to the questions I yet to have asked. Instead of a revelation striking like lightning, I received tangible, beautiful gifts from incredible confidants, friends, and family. From my mother, an Eames inspired chair from her interior design shop along with a large, chocolate brown cushion to welcome guests to lounge about. From Duncan, another crisp white chair to match the meter wide- handcrafted, perfectly designed desk installed and attached from Ritchie along with a smattering of gifts from beautiful, soft clothing and a Michael Kors watch I’d been eying and not so subtly hinting at- to his relief. Thank you greatly mom, for picking it up in the states- even though it does happen to be the wrong color (thank you Poppy-and Joe- for righting that for me!),  The desk where I now sit still smells slightly of the woods, of varnish, and of sawdust- the labor that went into it, the hands that moved it and pieced it together. The large unit was crafted and designed with future endeavors and projects in mind, a peaceful and organized space to create, likely continued things that will bring both joy and irk into my amoeba of a world.

After a gleeful exchange of gifts, tokens, and embraces; we four, Duncan, Ritchie, my mother and I- my Phnom Penh family at the moment- enjoyed hours of conversation and a few bottles of white at OCEAN. Instead of going out to get wrecked on cocktails, party at a the club that should be empty of a Monday- yet is sadly packed, or don one of my prettiest dresses and heels; (for the record, I wore Adidas sweat pants and a black tank) we sank into the ease of simply being together feasting, celebrating another year of a life full of static, serendipity, and surprises. My mother’s birthday falls on October 1st, she’s always said I was her birthday gift. Maybe I made that up; maybe I decided I was her birthday present. I can’t be sure- regardless- she, instead, is my birthday gift. Although it was technically on my birthday date, it was an observance of her years, well lived, gut-wrenching, wise, humbling, yet lighthearted and breathtaking. She left me with advice that was utilized the next day and appreciated quickly after; that is a gift intangible yet life lasting. I realized later we had been so caught up in our communion we not only shut the restaurant down, but failed to take a photograph together. Unfortunate, but the memories are strong- even a few glasses of white in.

the common tiger <3We continued the celebration the next day at The Common Tiger, where like most, my mom was swept up in the incredible warmth that seeps from the doors of the stark yet zen interiors. Timothy and Christina, some of the most genuine, open, and talented individuals I know, brought the rose-colored glasses they see life through to us to experience this special day; through the form of food and attentiveness- I do believe they succeeded as my mom gasped and lolled about her plate of Nori wrapped pork and fresh baked rye bread with childlike candor and beautiful grace. Christina bounced about in her natural gleeful and undying glow with her camera, capturing my mother enraptured with Tim’s vision for TCT and his creations- Ritchie simply appreciative of what he was eating and the effort put into it- and me- purely happy to be at one of my favorite spots in town with some of my most adored comrades. We  left full- in a ginger, brownie, and unknown culinary pleasure daze back into our respective offices, looking forward to Pchum Ben- for Ritchie and I, an upcoming holiday in Kep.

I feel like my cup runs over, and cannot quite grasp every moment that I felt adored, appreciated, or simply acknowledged this past week- it’s not as if anything was truly out of the ordinary- maybe my hands were simply just open enough to receive all the honest, elementary nonetheless fantastical love of it all.

A few snapshots of the beautiful gifts I received, so undeserving.

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