A Valentine Birthday

Having a birthday on Valentine's Day can be complicated. I have to contend with all the significant others of the world, but I also kind of get double the love on my birthday. 

One of the weirdest parts of having a Valentine's birthday is that until this year, I had actually never been out to dinner on my actual birthday. Every good restaurant in town—any town—is always booked up months in advance. So, concurrently, I had actually also never been sung to in a restaurant on my birthday. I got to cross both of those experiences off my bucket list this year, though! 

I called one of my favorite restaurants in Rochester, Napa, the Sunday before my birthday and really timidly asked, "Hey, could you by any chance take a reservation for twelve people on Friday?" The guy on the other end of the phone questioned, "This Friday? Like… Valentine's Day?" and I thought I was doomed yet again. But I confirmed, and he unexpectedly answered, "Yeah, totally!"  

So five days later, I was at a restaurant, on my birthday, being sung to by eleven of my closest friends and eating some great wood-fired pizza. It was a super mellow birthday this year, but that was totally in line with my mood. There's nothing overwhelmingly poignant about turning 22, unless you're Taylor Swift, so it didn't really seem like a year that I needed to have a big party. When I turned 20, I had an amazing speakeasy-themed party in my friends' suite in Towers because, well, TWENTY. Not being a teenager anymore is a big deal. Twenty-one was sort of a symbolically big birthday, but I was in London so the whole being-legal-to-drink-in-America wasn't really relevant; however, I got to celebrate in London so that's automatically cool. But 22 isn't really one of those birthdays, so I was very happy to just go out for dinner and be surrounded by people I love, and I gave them all Valentine's, too.

I had a cool realization while we were at the restaurant, actually. I have known all but two of the people there since freshman year. One of them was my freshman roommate, one of them was my next-door neighbor, one of them I actually went to high school with, and the rest were part of this group of people from two floors below me in Gilbert Hall that I just kind of hooked onto and am still friends with! I think I'm pretty lucky that I met a great group of people right when I got here and have been able to stick with them for all of college, but I also don't think that's an unusual experience at Rochester. The people I've met at this school have all been very genuine, so once you form a connection, for the most part, it lasts. Of course, as graduation gets closer and closer, I've been thinking about the after-college life, and as far as friends go, I'm really confident that I will be able to stay connected to all these people.

Anyways, sentimentality aside, it really was a great birthday, and one of my friends who graduated last year and is now doing Teach for America in Cleveland came to visit for the weekend, and brought a cake from Cleveland's Little Italy with her! 

In addition to this year being momentous because of my first-ever birthday restaurant experience, it was also the first year since 2006 that I haven't been on Facebook for my birthday. In December, I decided to permanently delete my Facebook because I felt like it was really minimizing my relationships with people, and it's been so great not having one (also, I never would've admitted this before, but it really did get in the way of studying, and now I have more time to focus on school). A big part of my past seven birthdays was checking my wall to see who'd written on it, but I have to say, it was actually so much nicer and more meaningful to get personal texts and phone calls from my friends and family.  

I also got a giant heart-shaped pan of brownies in the mail from my mom! So that's an epic care package win. 

Then, at the end of the weekend, I was waiting for the bus, and I found this heart in the melting snow. How's that for serendipity? 

About the author

Julia Sklar

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