I hate my birthday.
In high school, everyone got their lockers decorated on their birthdays.
My birthday ALWAYS fell on the first day of Christmas break. Therefore people were too busy (probably sunbathing topless in the Caribbeans) to decorate my locker.
Having a birthday so close to Jesus’s also meant that I only got 1.5 instead 2 gifts, for both Christmas and birthdays.
You’re welcome friends. I’m the reason you can afford the down-payment on that townhouse.
This would have been my third birthday in Shanghai, and the first with a Special Man Friend.
I wondered what he has planned for my birthday.
“I wonder what he has planned for your birthday.” Ronnie commented during our Girls-Night-In.
“I don’t expect him to do anything.” I shrugged nonchalantly “He’s technically not my boyfriend, so he’s technically not obligated to do anything.”
“So technically, TECHNICALLY… if he didn’t do anything, you’d be cool with it?” She raised an eyebrow disbelievingly.
“Cool as the ocean breeze!”
“Last year for my birthday, I was on a beach…” I mused to Johan, while casually slipping my impending birthday into every conversation.
It took all my willpower to avoid mentioning that for my first birthday here, my ex had my favorite cake (Red Velvet) delivered to my door.
“What would you like to do this year?” He asked.
“Oh nothing. I don’t care much for birthdays.”
On the morning of my birthday, we woke up and laid in bed discussing plans for the day.
“What do you think about this: we start off with brunch at Element Fresh.” Johan proposed.
“I like where this is going…” I encouraged.
“After that, we can go to an archery range. Have you ever been? No? Good. Then we can go to this bakery I found online and get your favourite: Red Velvet cake.”
My eyes lit up like the Olympic torch.
“You really don’t have to do anything… ” I didn’t know if he was serious or just talking aloud. Secretly, I hoped he spent weeks meticulously planning and booking everything in advance.
“Anything else you’d like to do?” Johan asked.
We continued to laze around in bed discussing, frequently occasionally veering off topic.
I picked up my phone and realized that it was 5pm.
How the heck did that happen???
“Let’s go out to dinner!” It was Helen. “My friend from home is here to visit.”
I told Johan about dinner, but hoped he would remember his previous plans of archery and cake.
Instead, he said “Sure, let’s go to dinner with your friends.”
I tried to disguise my disappointment and thought ‘Well, there can still be cake.’
“Hmm…It looks closed.” Johan peeked into the bakery window.
It WAS closed. Permanently.
“Don’t worry, we’ll find you another cake!“ He squeezed my hand. “Let’s go have dinner first.”
I can’t for the life of me remember what I had for dinner. I guess I was slightly distracted.
Whatever happened to archery and cake? I willed Johan to remember by staring glancing at him intently occasionally.
After dinner, the gang decided it was time to dessert. Somewhere else.
In Shanghai, you never stay at one place for too long, because there are always new and better places to try.
I kept waiting for Johan to say “Sorry guys, but the two of us already have plans.” I glanced at the clock, there was still time for archery.
Instead, he said “Sure, what’s everybody in the mood for?”
“Let’s go to Honeymoon dessert!!!” Helen squealed as we passed by the famous Hong Kong Chain.
I HATE Honeymoon Dessert and its healthy selection of Asian sweets.
I wanted Red Velvet Cake.
This is your cue Johan, here’s where you say “Nah. We have plans. Birthday girl deserves cake, not durian pudding.” I twiddled my thumbs and waited.
Instead, he held my hand and led me inside with everyone else.
Maybe it was just me, but the sweet bean congee there tasted awfully bitter.
With an hour left of my birthday, we walked home in silence.
“Are you upset?” He must have felt a wave of my “cool ocean breeze”.
“What do you mean?” I tried to act dumb.
“Are you…” He began tentatively. “Perhaps… feeling passive aggressive that we didn’t actually do anything for your birthday?”
I took a deep breath and tried to be reasonable.
“Honestly?” I looked at him earnestly. “I really wasn’t expecting anything anyways.”
Then I quickly looked away, unable to hid the sadness in my eyes.