It's my birthday tomorrow. It's got me thinking about a lot of things; birthday parties, the future, what's happened in the last year. And cake, let's not forget cake.
I have a strange relationship with birthdays. I've always quite liked them; I guess it's a genuine reason to feel special for a day, get away with being a bit of a diva, and did I mention all the cake? That said, as I've got older, inevitably, I've become less excited by them. Not because I'm getting older, as such, but birthdays just seem less significant, don't you think?
One of the first birthdays I remember is when I must have been turning five or six. We lived in a small terraced house, so my party was outside in the yard. I'm not sure how many people were there, but the yard seemed full of my friends and we all sat on the brickwork for the flowerbeds drinking, eating and having a good time. My cake was so exciting (to me, as a five or six year old) - a pink castle, complete with turrets, which was big enough to hold several of my My Little Ponies along its walls. Best cake ever.
Vicars, tarts, doctors, nurses...and pirates
My eighteenth birthday party has, without a doubt, been my favourite. I shared the party with two friends from a different school, so the venue was bursting with people. We made it fancy dress - vicars and tarts, doctors and nurses...and pirates. No, I have no idea how we came up with all that, but everyone made a really good effort and it was a night which was talked about for a long time afterwards (I was a nurse, in case you were wondering).
Conversely, my 21st was an absolute disaster. My birthday has always fallen in exam time, through GCSEs, A Levels and university. My mum pushed me into having a party when I didn't really want one - I was having a hard time at uni and didn't really have a proper friendship group, and my school friends were scattered all over the country. To make matters worse, most of them were doing their finals so no one could come. It was another joint birthday party, but it basically ended up with me organising a party for the other birthday girl (and I didn't get much thanks for it either).
My 30th was fun; after my 21st I knew I didn't want to make much of a big deal of the next big birthday, so I escaped. I went to Hong Kong and spent two weeks eating, drinking, shopping and generally pleasing myself - it was great. My mum got me a Hello Kitty cake, I got myself a tattoo, and it was one of the best birthdays I'd had in ages.
I've been abroad for my last few birthdays too, one for pleasure and one with work. This year I find myself working away again. Not quite Hong Kong, but it'll be another Asian birthday - this time in Brunei. It's weird celebrating stuff like this with people you don't really know, you never know whether to make a big deal of it or not. It was the same with my engagement, really - I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, but I was away from home and hadn't been in my office that long so it was all a bit strange and I didn't really do anything about it.
So this year, I'll be up early for work. I'll call home and open the couple of cards that were snuck into my suitcase (thanks Dad) and maybe have a G&T to celebrate at the end of the day. I don't really feel that I need to be made a fuss of anymore. I'll be home the week after my birthday, and I'm looking forward to spending time with Rick, but at the end of the day it's just another day, isn't it? Or have I become too cynical in my old age?