Thursday was my first birthday in New York City, but being a “school night” I figured it would be a low-key day. I had no idea what was in store for me.
The day started off benignly enough. As the clock struck 12:00 midnight, Sal came into the room with a donut with a candle on top, singing happy birthday. The next morning, Sal took the dogs out so I could sleep in a few minutes longer, and he made some breakfast. It was a nice start to the day.
Fast forward through the workday, and our friend Clay came over to play video games with me for awhile. (Yes, I got to bust out the new 10th anniversary Halo game that I bought myself for my birthday.) I was having such a great time that I was almost tempted to bail on my evening plans.
My favorite bar in New York City is a place called House of Brews, in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of midtown Manhattan. It’s a place that Sal introduced me to the day we met, and we’ve historically gone back there on most of our visits to NYC when we lived together in Charlotte.
The week before my birthday, we had briefly discussed the idea of having a drink or two at House of Brews, early in the evening since I had to work the next morning. So the day of my birthday, I remembered the idea and suggested that we invite a few friends to join us. Unfortunately, since I was sending out txt msgs and Facebook invitations the day itself, it was short notice and nobody was able to join.
So yeah, I was tempted to skip House of Brews and keep playing Halo with Clay. But knowing that I’m fighting the urge to be a shut-in, I grudgingly agreed to make the most of my birthday have a drink or two at HoB before calling it an evening. When we arrived, I saw a table up by the front that was empty, and made a beeline for it since I could tell the rest of the bar was full of people.
Sal refused, saying he wanted to sit in our usual section in the back, and dragged me back there. Halfway to the end of the bar, a cheer went up from the crowd — and it wasn’t because a favorite sports team had scored. No, it was from the thirty or so people that Sal had secretly arranged to meet us there for my surprise party.
Liars, the bunch of them. All of them were allegedly busy with work, or had prior commitments, or blah blah blah. And there they were, smug little bastards. Friends I had grown up with in Florida who live here now, friends of ours who were college classmates of Sal’s that I had since stolen from him, friends from Charlotte who had moved here before me, friends from work, even friends that I had literally met the week before through mutual acquaintances. The back of the bar was full of people who were all there to celebrate my birthday with me.
Naturally, the “drink or two” that I planned to have (before going to bed by around eleven o’clock) turned into quite a few more than that, and I didn’t get home until after two o’clock in the morning. I stumbled into bed ridiculously late, half drunk (only half!) and fully content.
It was quite a spectacular way to celebrate my first birthday in my new home. Special thanks to Sal for organizing, and to the many friends who came out to make my day very special indeed.