This past Friday night, Jake and I were sitting around watching Trollhunter—a B-horror movie from Norway—when our pal Brandon showed up at the front door. I had a couple seconds to think, “Huh, why is Brandon showing up at our house when he knows Jake has to work tomorrow?” Then, a girl walked in behind him, and I swore I knew her from somewhere. Then, in the dimness of our living room, I recognized the smiling face of my chica from Charleston, Jenny, who Jake had secretly flown in as a super spectacular birthday present to me. The next minute is kind of a blur, but I’m pretty sure there was a lot of hugging and cheek kissing and crying. So began my thirtieth birthday weekend.
Is the age of thirty any different from twenty-nine? Not particularly. I guess people make a big deal out of it because it’s a nice round number, and it signifies the entrance into a new decade of life. I remember twenty didn’t mean anything, because at twenty, you were old enough to be in college but still too young to legally drink. At thirty, I gain nothing except a three where a two once was, yet because Jenny was here this weekend, I felt like thirty did mean something—because my weekend meant so much.
I met Jenny at work in Charleston, my very first week of habitation in South Carolina. That same week happened to be my birthday week, but I had no plan to celebrate, because I didn’t know anyone. Jenny, however, brought me a cupcake the day of my birthday. It was shocking to have a perfect stranger come into my office and put a cheerfully decorated pastry on my desk. We’ve been friends ever since.
Once Jenny got settled into our new house here in Phoenix, we went out Friday night to Ground Control, where we met friendly bartenders and patrons who bought us expensive shots of Frida Kahlo tequila, bless them. We laughed and laughed until my ribs hurt and I was reminded of all the times we used to cackle on the beaches of South Carolina. Going to bed sounded terrible. Like a kid on Christmas Eve, I was too excited to sleep. I wanted to play, play, play, but since I’m thirty, I’m too old to play, play, play all night … or was I? Friday night, we slept; Saturday night, we didn’t, but we didn’t know what was to come as of Saturday morning, when we put on bathing suits and got mani-pedis together at the spa.
Following a highly productive trip to Total Wine, we went and hung out at a friend’s pool all afternoon. Jake met us there at lunch time, and it was all about the Absolut Miami and pineapple juice. I could have taken a nap, sure, but I didn’t want to miss any Jenny time. We reminisced about Belize, where Jake and I spent every day like Jenny and I spent Saturday.
At five, we showered and dressed, me in a highly out of character skin-tight lavender satin dress. The skin-tight was normal; the pastel color was not. We met the rest of our crew at Hula’s Modern Tiki downtown, where I enjoyed fresh fish and my cocktail of choice, the Dark & Stormy. As a collective, we consumed a Volcano Bowl—a thirty-dollar chalice of mixed liquors and fruit. I received copious offerings of expensive whiskey, tequila, and rum as birthday gifts (I love my friends). The rest of the night was composed of dancing at Sage and Sand, drinking cinnamon-flavored liquor, an after-party at my place (where we tasted all my birthday presents), and an eventual bedtime of 4:30 AM. Who says thirty is old, right?
I hated seeing Jenny leave on Sunday, and I already miss the lady friend who makes me laugh the most. I will be on a detox schedule, yes, for the next two years, but it was worth it. Huge, excessive birthday celebrations are always worth it, as long as friends are along for the ride, and great friends, I do have a few. By a few, I mean many, and maybe that was my favorite part of Saturday: watching a group of very different people converse, argue, and bond over preferred movie villains, shots of Fireball, and an obsessive love for seventies disco music.
Age doesn’t have to do with a number. It has to do with the friends you’ve made—and kept—along the way. I’m so blessed to have friends all over the country who I still keep in touch with. I’m blessed to have friends here in Phoenix who brighten my life on a daily basis. I’m blessed to have my very best friend, my hubbie Jake, who Jenny refers to as her Xanax substitute. That’s how all good friends are: they relax us, calm us, and keep us from going nuts … even on my dirty thirty.