Of all my modern birthdays this may have been the best one. I didn't have a party or any sort of pre-arranged birthday dinner or anything, which I always prefer because I feel pressured to be charming and interesting and responsive at those things. Originally I was planning to just come home early and write a few things, maybe have a chines dinner, and go to sleep.
Well I didn't get home as early as I'd planned because my boss took me out to a very late lunch (It ended after 5 PM) and gave me a couple presents, which were nice. I got $75 and a really nice small umbrella. The umbrella might seem a bit impersonal but considering the number of times I've showed up to work wet or left in the rain without any sort of water-resistant protection, it was pretty thoughtful. We had a decent time out and it was low-key, which was great.
On the way home the Israeli MBA gave me a ring and asked if I wanted to come hang out at his place before he left for Israel (earlier today.) I thought about saying no, but then I realized that that would have been an immature decision. On birthdays I spend alone I tend to just hunker down and eat a lot, feel miserable and wonder why I don't have any friends and have to be alone on my birthday. It's a self-defeating painful and frankly unhealthy reaction to my legitimate desire not to have a big party or fancy dinner. He said he was going to have a few friends over to watch some new nature documentary DVDs he'd imported from England, and that seemed like a decent compromise between being by myself and gloomy and being miserable around a lot of people, so I decided what the heck and headed over there. Besides the desire to be around other people, it's a new friendship that has the potential to be both personally and professionally rewarding, and wasting an opportunity to cultivate it before he went over to Israel for a month so that I could spend the time being miserable just seemed like it would have been a stupid move.
I headed over there and we had a decent time. He got a vegetarian healthy dinner, which actually wasn't half bad, and we got to set up his new DVD player (We ended up not getting the British DVDs to work because he was missing an adapter but we went to Circuit City a couple of times and I got a chance to fool around with the wires and controllers for his big home entertainment system, which I enjoyed.) I helped him transfer some files from his PC to his Mac, his girlfriend came over and she was really a nice person (not to mention patient when the two of us were arguing with the Circuit City guy about whether a 6 foot S-Video cord would be sufficient.) They brought out a Cantaloupe with a candle in it and sang happy birthday to me, at which point I turned beet red. His friends did end up coming over and they watched Chronicles of Riddick while the MBA and I watched each other's school projects and talked about future projects we might like to work on together. Afterwards we all had tea and told a bunch of racy jokes. It was fun.
I think it was the right decision. It's hard to feel depressed and lonely when you're telling sheep fucking jokes with a bunch of people in a fancy apartment at 1 AM. It was low-key, I got a nice credit card holder as a present, and I cemented the possibility of doing some work with him after he gets back from Israel. The only semi-weird part of the night was when the two couples that were there (My friend and his girlfriend, and his two friends who are an item) started making out hardcore on the couch in the middle of the conversation. One minute we were discussing how the Chinese government buying US treasury bonds affects the value of U.S. currency and the next they were shoving their tongues down each other's throats and groping on the sofa. It just seemed incongruous but I guess they know each other so well that public displays of affection like that are totally acceptable and don't need to be in context.
It was a cool fun birthday and totally painless, which is what matters. I'm 23 and looking forward to the rest of my life. Now if I can only get my Badder Santa DVD back from the guy who's borrowing it