When I was in my early twenties, I started a personal tradition that I affectionately called “Birthday Week.” I decided that the purpose of Birthday Week was to spend the week leading up to my birthday indulging in special little treats I don’t normally have. They don’t have to be extravagant (and usually aren’t in my case) but it seemed like a nice little way to look forward to birthdays and take the edge off of those extra white hairs or wrinkles that inevitably increase with each birthday (I discovered my first white hair at 21). These treats are usually small things like that extra decadent Starbucks drink I normally don’t get, or a decadent dessert at a specialty store. Sometimes, I’d live a little and spring for a massage!
When Brian and I got together, I told him about my little Birthday Week tradition (and why I started it) and he decided to help me out by taking over Birthday Week. So, now we do Birthday Week for each other but it was much easier to do in the States. We’d spread out the birthday gifts over the week, go to special restaurants or places where we can get special treats, or even do little romantic things for each other.
Living overseas, has definitely presented it’s challenges for Birthday Week. For one, there aren’t that many restaurants here that we like to eat at. More importantly, everything has to be done in French. So while I could get a massage during Birthday Week, I’d have to do it all in French and that’s more hassel than I care to deal with for Birthday Week.
Towards the beginning of this Birthday Week, we went out to eat at a Thai restaurant we’ve been dying to try for a while now. The food was delicious, we shared a whole bottle of wine and engaged in good conversation. Unfortunately, I had a migraine the next day from too much wine, Brian had some major stomach issues while I had some minor ones. The other outing I was looking forward to was a half day trip to Ngor Island which is a nice little getaway that is about a 5 minute boat ride from the shores of Dakar. It’s a lovely little place to walk around, see the ocean and there’s a restaurant I’ve eaten at that had a Brochette de Lotte that I absolutely loved. Brian hadn’t been to Ngor Island yet so I was looking forward to sharing it with him.
Sadly, our little trip was not as enjoyable as I’d hoped. It’s best to wear flip flops there because you have to take your shoes off to get into the boat and then since you get all sandy getting off the boat, flip flops are easy to get back on. Well, first off, they dropped us off at a different beach than the first time I went. This meant that we had to walk into the island to get to the restaurant. This wasn’t too much of a problem until one of my flip flops COMPLETELY broke such that I couldn’t wear it at all within a couple of minutes of getting off the boat. I’m sure the Senegalese folks wouldn’t think that’s much of a problem when most of them are walking through the island barefoot. I, however, am not used to walking barefoot and couldn’t stand the hot sand and rocks. And, unfortunately, the only place I might possibly find shoes was at the other beach I thought we’d get dropped off at. We were near an Italian restaurant I had wanted to try at some point so I figured, let’s just eat there since it’s a short walk without shoes. Sadly, the food was bland, my “prosciutto” was really ham sandwich meat cut into squares and some of it tasted like it was going bad. Needless to say, after lunch we went back to Dakar since it was impossible for me to take a stroll around the island.
However, Birthday Week wasn’t a complete loss. My wonderful husband showered me with birthday gifts, yummy cookies, cupcakes, and romantic emails. My 2-year-old was extra cute this week giving me lots of kisses, hugs, and love (perhaps he was feeding off of Daddy). And, while my 7-year-old is away in the States, I really enjoyed watching him smile and laugh over Skype while he watched his little brother play sword fighting.
So, I thought I’d share my little Birthday Week celebration so that others could start their own traditions of making one week of the year extra special. Let them eat cake!