A guy like me would be frightened of birthdays since everything (or most things) after the twenty-first birthday might start going downhill. For me, I often critically think whether I have been using my time wisely, or if I would regret not being sexually active and hunt for relationships. I removed my birthday from facebook, since I feel weird when “friends” only message you on your birthday when they are actively checking statuses and pictures. I did prevent the flood of wall posts, but my birthday this year actually turned out to be great with a weekend of festivities.
I. The Messages
Even if I did not roam around town and publicize my birthday, I received warm messages from my parents and my brother around midnight. I have been extremely close to family members since when I was young, and I was glad to hear from them. They kept telling me that I have been an amazing son that they could trust and let me go, or that I am the most amazing brother in the world. Sounds cliche, I know, but those words mean a lot to me since they portray love.
Other than my parents, I got a surprising email from my childhood friend Lincoln. We went to the same elementary and junior high schools, but he left Taipei at a young age with part of his family to go to Africa. He is now doing well as a doctor in Scotland, and he remembered my birthday too! I was happy to hear from him and that he is doing well with his brother. Hopefully we will meet up and catch up in person soon.
The last message I want to include here is a message from my college friend Kevin. Even though I removed my birthday from facebook a while ago, he left a post about it today. He was traveling for the past few days, but he remembered my birthday and wished me well too. I was touched since I did not expect anyone to leave a message of that sort on my wall on facebook, but Kevin’s care reminded me of our first year in college. ‘Tis amazing that we still keep in touch although we are at different states in the country now.
II. The Visitor That Arrives Back
I met John last summer when he came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to conduct research as a graduate student from the University of Texas-Austin. ‘Twas a great summer with some meetups accompanied by drinks, food, and conversations. John messaged me earlier this month indicating that he will be back to town this summer and that he will be arriving around the weekend. I noticed that he was back on the eve of my birthday, and gave him a call. We chatted and soon decided to catch up and meet up since he was around my neighborhood. We walked around town for a bit and then went to Brocach. ‘Twas a great catchup of more than two hours, and he bought me a pint of Guinness at that Irish pub. He then drove me back to my place, and we are already talking about hanging out together this summer.
III. The Night Out
My friends Colleene, Collin, and Peter were talking about going to Madison Children’s Museum for Adult Swim, where adults roam around the museum and rejuvenate themselves for an evening offered once a month, a month ago when we had dinner at Colleene’s. Seeing that there was one in May, I emailed the group a few weeks ago seeing if people were still interested. Unfortunately, Collin would have to be in New York for his job, but Colleene and Peter quickly gave me a YES. Who knew that Colleene remembered my birthday and noticed that May’s Adult Swim was on my birthday? So a simple trip to the museum soon become a lot more complex with planning…but after a few emails, we got something set. We first had dinner at Kabul, an Afghan restaurant along State Street, at 5:30PM, and then we walked along State Street and arrived at the museum by 7:20PM. We had so much fun in the museum, and left at 9:30PM for a seven-minute walk to grab desserts at Nostrano. ‘Twas a great evening that ended at 11PM with these two wonderful folks, and then I stopped by my friend and former student Vinod’s place. I promised Vinod, who has the same birthday, that I would stop by and say hi since I was invited to his birthday/graduation party, and I did. I stayed there until 11:30PM and headed home.
I passed by many folks on the streets since ’twas bartime. I walked along University Avenue and saw funny faces going into some undergraduate bars. Who would know that there would be three gunshots around that area later at 1AM? Thankfully I was in bed by then.
III. The Party In The Farm
On the next day of my birthday was Dr. Brad and Dr. Isadora’s graduation party on a farm in Oregon. I met Brad and Isadora through volleyball and was invited to the party. They have been great friends to talk to and that they indicated that there is an end of life as a doctorate student. They will both be moving to Chicago, and I am glad to be able to attend and send them off.
Since I currently co-own a car, my brother was using the car by then, and that I will be buying my own car later this or next year, I got a ride from Erik, whom I also befriended through those four-hour volleyball sessions on Saturdays and/or Sundays. ‘Twas a nice ride with conversations, and Erik’s wife Andi joined us too. We were a bit lost at first, but we were amazed by the mansion and the farm Brad and Isadora booked for the party and for accommodating their family members. The place was HUGE and there were TONS of food. We all felt as if we were in heaven while walking around with wine, interacting with others, playing beanbag toss and croquet, and so much more. ‘Twas a great party, and four hours passed by quickly.
IV. A New Friend For the Day
When playing outdoor volleyball today, I made some contact and interactions with Adam, a guy who came to Madison to start his business. He was a jolly guy to talk to, and he was pretty good at sand volleyball too after growing up in Michigan and living in California by the bay area. We only chatted for ten minutes at the end of the games, and then we parted.
I came back to my place a bit tired, but interestingly I felt that perhaps I should go out and start dating again. I felt lonely again somehow despite having so many awesome friends, and perhaps I just hope to be able to cuddle with someone. I started texting John for advice. He is a guy who likes me a lot, even to the point of flirting with me…and I value him as a friend. He is also encouraging too, for he told me not to go to bars by myself and that I deserve way better than that…that I am a quality, attractive, and intellectual man…and that I would be a great catch for any guy. ‘Tis funny though since I’ve been single my entire life for now, and maybe that’s cause I can be a bit picky; I like someone who is tall around my height since I cannot see myself making out with a 4’2 person, healthy/athletic and even muscular, well-educated with travel experience, curious and open-minded, nonsmoker and non drug abusers, independent and organized, and fun to talk to. Unfortunately after all the eight dates I went on, I have not found the right person yet. I then decided to take a walk around town to calm myself and to destress myself from work, and who knew that when I passed by Michelangelo’s, I saw a familiar face with dark hair and thick eyebrows looking at me. ‘Twas Adam! Haha he was working with a cup of Joe, but he still offered me to sit with him on the table and chat with him for a bit. He is in his thirties, but he looks young. He graduated from Michigan (AA); lived in New York, Germany, and San Francisco, been to many parts of Europe; and is a great guy to talk to with more questions and exchange of ideas. We have many commonalities too: our appreciation for applications since he is an engineer, our desire to get out of Madison and go somewhere else, our aim to do great things in life, our passion for travel and beer, and so much more. I sat there for a bit more than an hour with excitement, and we exchanged numbers at the end. Although I do not expect much from this, I am glad to gain a new friend and hopefully we will hang out at the end of this week or soon in the summer.
Madison is a transition point where people just come and go. My heart feels funny every year in Madison around my birthday since it coincides with the graduation weekend. Seeing those smiles from people walking down the streets with their gowns reminded me of my own college graduation, which was also a moment where good friends depart from one another. I was a workaholic in my undergraduate years, and it took me until graduate school to learn to socialize with others. I regret not spending enough times with friends in parties as an undergraduate, but the only thing I can do now is to renew friendship while gaining new ones too.
I am blessed to have so many wonderful and amazing people in my life. Along with family members, I am surprised when a few of my friends would remember my birthday and/or spend part of their time with me. The evening with Colleene and Peter strengthened our relationship, and we will be hanging out again within two weeks on Collin’s big day. The awesome trip to the children’s museum reminded me that we can be forever young and we should not worry much when we age. Sure…there can be arthritis, broken hips, and Alzheimer’s, but men and women can age like fine wine too. Although many people have left Madison, I am glad to be able to send people off and at least wish them well before they leave. However, I will be interacting with incoming students next semester when teaching, and the cycle begins again. Although I hate the fact that the end is another beginning, perhaps that is how I motivate myself to move forward nowadays. When I was in first grade, I cried after the last day of school since I worried about not seeing my friends again, but things went well during my second grade and even in graduate school. New people, such as Adam, will come into our lives, and we need not to live in the same moment all the time but move forward while viewing photos from the past.
Thanks to all of the beautiful people in my life, I have so much love during my twenty-six years of existence…and I look forward for more to come and share!