(Photo: An honest look of shock as I sit amidst one-third of my surprise 37th birthday party.)
[This entry is one in a series of dispatches from my recent trips to Gotham.]
I turned 37 this month in my hometown. And while August continues to merge into seemingly one exceptionally and unexpectedly long trip to Gotham to interview and apartment hunt, it was turning 37 that I found most informative. Purely for narcissistic reasons. Essentially I was smoked.
Shortly before my birthday, I flew in to begin my interviewing process and attend a GLYNY Alumni Group Board of Directors meeting. The meeting, taking place on the eve of my birthday, was uneventful. We came, we saw, we argued. I bitched. A lesbian expressed anger. Someone hummed a showtune. It was what you’d expect from your average LGBT working meeting. The plan was that the nine of us would all go have dinner after the meeting and I’d have a quiet birthday the next day, probably spent with my best friend of 20 years, the very “Juicy” Peter Morley.
The birthday with Peter happened as expected. The birthday eve, however, had other plans. While we were walking to our regular food joint, Sammy’s Noodle Shop at Sixth and 11th, I stopped the gang for a quick drink at our regular hooch joint, the estimable old-man bar, Julius at West 10th and Waverly. I should have known by the way half the group didn’t come in to imbibe that something was afoot. I should really have known when everyone argued that we shouldn’t bag our plans and go have Mexican, instead.
Now before I go on, let me explain one thing. I haven’t had a birthday party in 20 years. I’ve wanted one, sure. Who wouldn’t want a cake, several (hopefully too few) candles, and the warmth of your close friends to share same with you. But as my teen years morphed into adulthood, my eventual circle of friends (not to mention my highly estranged family) never again was conducive to the potential for such festivities. I am not ashamed to admit that for many years, I’ve mourned that fact. An adult birthday dinner with your boyfriend of the moment is nice. But every year, come August, I became painfully aware that I would never, ever in my life be guest of honor at a surprise birthday party.
i was wrong.
I finally clued in to that fact when we reached Sammy’s. As I stood there, speechless for fear of crying if I dared open my mouth, one by one, a steady stream of my old friends emerged from the after-dusk shadows of Sixth Avenue. Twenty-six of them. Each one feigned surprise to find me there. Each one came to celebrate my birthday. And for the next two hours raucously, we did just that.
I won’t belabor the obvious. Yes, yes, now I’ve had my surprise party, dream come true, my friends totally got me–but good. You get that part. What thoroughly blew me away, though, is that, once again, it was my old-is-new-again GLYNY friends filling my heart with joy. It was also the largest reunion event we’ve had since we began to come together again last March.
The job and apartment searches continue apace. I have good friends in Chicago who want me to stay. But on the subject of returning to New York City, I’m finding it very hard to argue with 26 opinions in favor of my doing so.
And I love each and every one of the 26 people holding those opinions.