I just turned twenty-five on February 25th, which makes it my lucky year. As a younger version of myself, I always liked to look forward to the future. By twenty-five, I thought I’d be internationally rich and famous. It didn’t happen quite yet, but that doesn’t mean that many of my dreams did not come true or that I have no future. Quite to the contrary, I feel like I’ve achieved something, making it to twenty-five healthy, happy and driven. On February 25th, I got ”happy birthday” messages from all around the world. I had ”alles gutte”, ”feliz cumplenos” and ”bonne fête”. It made me feel like an incredibly lucky lady, someone who loves others and is loved back, someone who has her place in this crazy international world.
Every year, my birthday arrives at the end of an infinite winter, like a lighthouse in a stormy sea. My best friend Olivier told me that each year, he awaits for my birthday to come around since it’s ‘‘the end of the darkness’’, the dead end of winter, the last few weeks of sub-zero temperatures.
My birthday matters a lot to me because every year, it is an occasion to have a celebratory ritual about being born into the world. Most importantly, it is a time when I feel particularly grateful for all the love in my life. Like New Years, it is a time to stop and think, but also to open my eyes and to stop taking things for granted (something I’m constantly working on).
Every year, I have diner with my family as well as a party with my friends. For diner, I have excellent food with my close-knit family, either at the restaurant or at home, and for my party, I always make a point of dressing up, dancing and throwing a get-together with some of my most fabulous friends.
My parties are kind of legendary and they are always thematic. I had a ”bring me a surprise” themed party for my twenty-second birthday. The picture above was taken by Olivier at my twenty-third anniversary. The theme was ”Southern”. Boys came up wearing Hawaiian shirts, my best friend Gab dressed head-to-toe in yellow (she was the sun) and I was sporting short-shorts, a tropical top and platforms the whole night (and that ubiquitous vintage Parasuco rocker coat, a gift from Olivier). It was a great night, and I was happy to be dancing with people I love, popping bottles open, having a blast and not giving a care in the world.
This year, the theme was ”child’s birthdays” but I ended up wearing sequins (obviously!). My birthday party was happening at my friend Vanessa’s place this year, as my tiny apartment can’t hold more than ten people at a time.
I took the metro to get there. I was at the central station, Berri-UQAM, to switch lines eastward when I came face-to-face with Olivier. The metro stopped for a minute. I boarded the train while he exited. He quickly realized: ”wait! I’ll give you your gift!”, and then proceeded to take out a rolled photography out of his bag to give it to me. As the train departed, I unrolled it and smiled: it was a detail of the very picture one can observe above.
Arrived at Vanessa’s place after running some errands and having coffee with my mom, I was already running out of time to decorate the whole space. Luckily, her sister was there and two other friends who live at a stone’s throw also came to help out. We decorated the whole apartment, sticking curling ribbons on the ceiling with the help of a stepladder. We started drinking wine in the meantime, then had a delicious vegan diner.
In the back room, we danced crazily to rock and roll, gave each others hugs and chatted a ton. In the front room, there was a blue light and white paper on the walls. My friend wrote a note encouraging people to draw on them. As the night unveiled, many made their way to the drawing corner.
The next morning, I had a plethora of drawings to collect before departing, a reassuring reminder of my friends’ love, creativity and sense of humour.
Even if parties are different from year to year , every time it is a moment to fall in love with myself again and with the simple fact of being alive. Days are getting longer, winter is soon to be over, but this won’t be an infinite winter. It’s my lucky year after all.
Lili Monette is a multi-disciplinary entertainer and writer, and the Montreal editor of Blonde. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre & Development from Concordia University and is still somewhat studying.
Photo: Iconographie by Olivier Gariépy. A picture of me exactly two years ago, on my twenty-third birthday. http://ogariepy.tumblr.com/