This year on October 5th I woke up in my bed in Colombia, not really ready to celebrate my 27th birthday. And, my 5th birdday away from home.
Here is my chronology of my return of the day.
October 5th, 2016. Brighton, UK.
My first birthday off shore. I was spending a month in Brighton to study for my IELTs English test – the one which enabled me to study abroad, in the Netherlands.
I was being hosted by a local family with many kids and pets, living in the countryside about 1 hour from the school.
On October 5th I remember missing the bus and I arrived late at class. I spent the full day studying English, under the guidance of Julie – one of the best teachers I have ever had.
And in the evening we had a beer with some people from my class. I didn’t know them at all, but wasn’t afraid to tell them it was my birthday and everyone was happy to have an excuse to celebrate.
On that day I learnt it’s important to open up to others and to trust them – and unexpected doors will open to you. This learning was my 22th birthday present.
October 5th, 2017
Groningen, Netherlands. I was gonna have a cultural history test the day after. I was so stressed out.
I left early in the morning, went to class and then spent the afternoon in the library. I left the library with my friends (and library companions) at around 8pm.
We went to have a pizza, and then it really felt like my birthday.
My friend Bo from China gave me a little present from his country, while Anne, who had just returned from England, brought me candies and tea. I thought I was making myself a family. I was right.
At around 10pm I went home by bike. It was raining of course and I got completely soaked in water.
I stepped into my flat and found my housemates, Quique from Spain and Aman from India, welcoming me with a “Happy birthday!”. They had put some azoto balloons in my room and were looking forward to my return.
And close to my bed I found… a box from my parents! It full of food and warm clothes. I went to bed feeling happy and full of love. And ready for my cultural history test the day after.
October 5th, 2018.
Pune, India. In the morning, I received a delivery from a special person who directly from Europe sent me flowers and fruits.
In the afternoon I started feeling so lonely and not really up for celebrations.
What I didn’t know was that my housemate Irene (you’ll see her name will return in this post) had me organised a surprise party.
She brought me to Malaka Spice, a delicious Asian restaurant, where other friends were waiting for us. Then she showed me a video she had put together thanks to the help of other friends from our Masters currently living in other continents. I was very moved.
I don’t remember much of the rest of the night, only that I danced a lot and fell asleep on my way home. It was unforgettable.
October 5th, 2019
Brussels, Belgium. It was one of the most stressful periods of my life.
I was doing my internship 5 days a week. Doing a consultancy job for another organization. Having my French class twice a week. And studying for my Masters in Project Management.
One top of that, to save money on my rent I was living in a small shared apartment on the 6th floor without an elevator nor washing machine. The money I was saving by living there I had to invest in the laundrette downstairs, cause believe me, you don’t want to hand wash your clothes in the very humid Brussels’ autumn.
So, on October 5th I only wanted to rest. And my boyfriend gave me the best birthday present: a (second hand) sofa where I spent the day calling friends and sleeping. Amazing.
October 5th, 2020.
Brussels, Belgium. Again.
My first birthday in the pandemic.
I knew I wanted to celebrate, I just didn’t know how or if it was right to celebrate.
It felt right anyway.
So on October 5th i invited some friends over. Dono, my boyfriend. My colleagues Dolinda, Lizy and her boyfriend Lilion. There was Fiona, my housemate. Maria, my very blond Spanish friend and finally Irene, my closest friend from my Master’s (yeah, the same Irene who organised the surprise party in india.
Irene was the one who suggested we play a game.
We split into 2 groups. Each person wrote down a name (it could be a concept, an object, a person, an animal etc) on a piece of paper and put it inside a hat. Then in turns, each of us had to pick up a piece of paper and mime the name of the person/animal/object written on it, for the other group members to guess it.
First round. Pure mime. Second round: only with sounds and so on.
At one point the piece of paper I had picked said “Skype”. And I started reproducing the sound of the skype call we were hearing daily in our work routine (and we still do). It was simple, and so much fun.
October 5th, 2021.
Bogotà, Colombia. I started the day feeling lonely. I woke up at 6am, took a shower and went off to work. Then at 10am we got a delivery in the office from my colleague’s husband, with some delicious Colombian delicacies.
At 1pm I got a call from Giulia, my cousin who lives in London, and saw her two little and amazing daughters.
At 2pm my colleague Ligia surprised me with lunch in an Italian place, where I had pasta al psto and felt like home. I went home at 6pm and found out a present (a lovely plant!) from my boyfriend in Europe was going to be delivered the next day.
Then at night I had dinner with my housemates Aldo and Frank and tasted vegetarian sushi for the first time ever. I started the day feeling lonely. My day ended with joy and love.
No matter where I am on October 5th. What I’m sure of is that October 5th can be a special day whoever I’m spending it with.
And that I open to the world, the world will open to me.