1979: I am told that on my first birthday, I try to grab the flame of the candle on my cake and burn my hand.
1984: My sixth birthday is the first I really seem to remember. I had a big party and there was a clown.
1987: For my ninth birthday I get a new scooter. It's lavender with handbrakes. After school, Grandma Ruth comes over and we take turns riding the scooter up and down the sidewalk in front of the house before dinner. The next day at school when I tell people what I did for my birthday I am told that "grandmas don't ride scooters."
1989: I have a slumber party with a few other girls to celebrate my eleventh birthday, and my new friend, Cyndi, and I have a jumping contest: who can keep jumping the longest. Too much sugar anyone? It was the last time I had a slumber party on a Saturday night, because Cyndi and I become best friends, and she has to go to church every Sunday morning, which means that even after being up all night literally bouncing off the walls, she has to get up early and leave. We start having sleepovers on Friday nights instead.
1990: For my twelfth birthday, my mom takes me to get a second set of piercings in my ear. My mom already has one in one ear and two in the other. She gets her ears pierced at the same time. I don't remember if she gets one more in each, or just one, in order to even them out.
1993: I celebrate my fifteenth birthday by having girlfriends over for a fondue dinner.
1994: The evening of my sixteenth birthday is spent babysitting, because money = good, and I can go out with friends the following night.
1997: When I turn nineteen, my friends Jeff, Mica, and Tara take me out for mud pies at the Saturn Cafe. I am trying to convince myself that I have a crush on Jeff, failing miserably, and flirting anyhow. He claims later (perhaps only out of politeness) that I didn't make a fool of myself and didn't even notice the flirting.
1998: I get a group of friends together to go bowling on my twentieth birthday. I make sure I am in the same lane as Brian, who I have a terrible crush on, but who is still recovering from his own crush on my friend Christie, whose new boyfriend is occasionally managing to buy drinks for those of us not old enough to buy our own.
1999: I make tacos and sangria at Brian's apartment, so I can celebrate with friends who aren't yet 21, and then those of us who are go out to drink some more. I throw up after my third drink at the Red Room. My friend Christie brings me a birthday card she made, with my name spelled out on the front in pictures of vibrators cut out of a Good Vibrations catalog. Jeff brings me a stuffed monkey that I name Weed, in honor of Jeff's girlfriend, Mary Jane. My friend Rachel's boyfriend brings me a sock monkey that he made. At some point in the evening I realize that he must be drunk because he keeps hugging me. Then I realize that I must be drunk too, because I am rather enjoying it.
2000: Brian makes reservations to celebrate my twenty-second birthday at Pearl Alley Bistro, but they are terribly crowded, so we say we'll walk around downtown and come back in a bit. We go try on hats in a store down the street, and when we return they are still not ready for us, but they give us nice glasses of wine on the house while we wait. Our dessert that night, a flaming chocolate souffle, is also free because of the wait, and I am amused because just wandering Pacific Avenue, hanging out in the crowded restaurant, and enjoying a late dinner after the restaurant quiets down a bit is actually a great deal more fun than if we'd been seated on time.
2003: I spend my twenty-fifth birthday in California, attending the APHA's annual research meeting, while Brian is in Boston for work. My dad takes me and a couple of friends out to a fantastic Italian place on College Avenue in Berkeley. I can never remember the name.
2004: Brian takes me out for my favorite pumpkin ravioli when I turn twenty-six. The waiter keeps pouring more wine into my glass and I completely lose track of how much I've had until I stand up to go find the restroom a nearly wander (fine, stagger) into the kitchen instead. Afterwards, we contemplate skating at the rink right outside the restaurant but somehow have the good sense not to.
2007: When I turn twenty-nine, I joke that I should just tell people that I am thirty, since no one believes people who say they are twenty-nine and I have no objection to being thirty anyhow. I don't expect to do anything on my actual birthday, because we had dinner with my family to celebrate the weekend before. But Brian comes home from work and suggests take out from Amber India, and we open a bottle of wine from our trip to Italy, and it's a nice little celebration. The baby even goes to bed at a decent hour.
2008: Today I am 30. I have a dentist appointment in the morning, playgroup in the afternoon, and my second knitting class tonight. Do I know how to party, or what? But I think it will be a good day. Once the dentist stuff is over.