A couple of week’s ago, my blogging buddy Bill celebrated his birthday, and as a fun treat, he decided to challenge some bloggers to write about their favorite birthday memories. While we’re all stuck in lockdown, it’s nice to remember times when we could gather together and celebrate. Hopefully, we can get back to celebrating together soon! You can read Bill’s birthday memories post here.
This was a tough challenge for me. Out of all of my 27 birthdays I’ve had on this Earth, which would I write about? Obviously I don’t remember them all, either because I was too young or because my memory isn’t perfect. At this point, most of my birthdays can be lumped into “mall birthdays” or “escape room birthdays,” but none of them seem interesting enough to write about. Instead of explaining what a typical birthday looked like for me throughout the ages, I thought that I would go with one of my more memorable birthdays, my 21st.
Now, I know that you’re all thinking that I had some wild and crazy 21st birthday (unless you’re a regular around here and you know that I’ve never been that wild and crazy…unless wild and crazy involves staying up all night to study for the US History AP test). I’ve actually never been a big drinker, so my 21st wasn’t a huge deal for me because of my age. It was even less so because I celebrated my 21st birthday in France, where teenagers are allowed to drink and 21 is just another birthday.
I turned 21 during the spring semester of my junior year while studying abroad in Toulouse. While attending a French university, I met an English major named Nora who was trying to come and study at my college in the states the following year. We became quick friends and decided that our first friend date would be on my birthday. I tried to come up with something that would be fun and different to do for my birthday abroad, and I decided that I wanted to get my ear pierced.
I already had a stud in each ear lobe, but I had been contemplating getting more piercings for some time. While in Toulouse, I had one professor with some piercings that I rather liked, three small studs in a line down one earlobe. I remember one night having a phone call with my mom where I discussed getting my second holes in my earlobes. It felt like the time to get more piercings, but I really wasn’t sure what I wanted. I loved the idea of the three piercings in one lobe, but I didn’t love the lack of symmetry.
My mom, with her infinite mom wisdom and plenty of piercings of her own, reminded me that my piercings didn’t have to be symmetrical if I didn’t want them to be. Who’s to say that I couldn’t get three piercings in one ear when I only had one in the other! Then, she probably also tried to convince me to get my nose pierced, something that she had done herself and thought it would look great on me, too (for the record, I did cave and get my nose pierced the summer before my senior year of college, and it does look great on me).
After going back and forth with myself for a couple of weeks, I decided that my birthday was the perfect day to get those ear piercings. I met up with Nora in the morning, and, after I explained my request, we set out to find someone that would pierce my ear.
Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my ID with me, and the only piercer that Nora knew in town wouldn’t admit me without it. Rejected, we went to sit in a cafe and plan our next move. Since she didn’t know the piercers in town really well, she reached out to another English major who had several piercings and asked her where to go. She directed us to a place that was so small that we missed it and ended up walking up and down the street several times. When we finally got our bearings and found the hole-in-the-wall piercer, we found that they were closed that day. I felt a bit sad that I couldn’t get my piercings on my birthday, but I felt touched when Nora offered to return with me the following day.
Of course, my life can’t be that easy. When we returned the next day, the store was open, but the piercer was booked for the day. We would have to make an appointment for the following day. Nora had work, but she promised that she would go with me after. This spoke volumes to me. Nora hardly knew me at all, but was willing to go to a piercer with me every day until I could finally get my ear pierced. I could tell that she was a good friend. Plus, I am terrified of needles, so I really needed a buddy.
In the meantime, my college friends and I had an evening class the night of my birthday, but we decided to go out for Mexican food afterwards to celebrate. Fun fact: my birthday falls on national tortilla chip day, which becomes my excuse every year to have at least one of my birthday meals be a delicious Mexican feast!
We went out and had some delicious food with great company, and I had my “first legal margarita” (pictured below).
I did finally get my ear pierced two days after my birthday with Nora sitting across the room trying not to watch. My entire birthday abroad was a nice reminder that I had friends and a support system even if I wasn’t home.
I don’t know when I’ll be able to go to Europe again or if I’ll ever spend a birthday abroad again, so this was a truly one-of-a-kind birthday. I’m going to cover more of my abroad adventures in my “Things I Didn’t Know Were on My Bucket List” series, so stay tuned!
Let’s keep the challenge going and hear about more birthday memories! I challenge the following bloggers to write about their favorite birthday memories (only if they want to!) and to keep the challenge going!