Every year, I always make grand plans for my birthday. For obvious reasons, this year was a tough one to plan. Before the coronavirus rained on my special day, I had plans to throw myself a party at my favorite karaoke bar in Tel Aviv – the one and only Stardust Bar. Because nothing screams 24 like drunkenly belting out Britney Spears lyrics with equally drunk friends and supportive strangers on a night out on the town. Alas, man makes plans and God laughs. I was sure that COVID-19 was going to cancel my birthday euphoria this year.
Nonetheless, I was determined to wake up and seize the day, even from the confines of my apartment. I always begin my day with yoga, but I wanted this particular yoga practice to be a mindful celebration of another year of life. I typed in “Birthday Yoga” on Youtube, and lo and behold, Yoga with Adriene presented me with a video titled Happy Birthday Yoga. Because I’m generally limited for time, I do only ten minutes of yoga every day, but being in quarantine encourages me to wake up nice and slow. I granted myself a half-hour of “easy, breezy, beautiful birthday yoga” with peppy, passionate yoga instructor Adriene, who was almost as excited as I was about ushering in yet another year.
After igniting my energy through yoga, I was officially ready to start my birthday! Everybody knows that no birthday is complete without a splash of wine. My roommates and I popped open a bottle, and poured each other glasses of goodness. The thing about mini wine mixers at our apartment is that they’re just any average soiree. Being on the top floor of our modest building, we have been granted with sunny rooftop views of Baka, Jerusalem.
I sat in our little window corner, soaking up the sun like the street cats of Israel, breathing in the fresh air, and taking in my serene neighborhood from up above. Another one of the pros of birthdays in quarantine is that it’s a genuine opportunity to reflect on what I’ve accomplished in the past year, and what I hope to accomplish in the coming year. Previous birthdays came and went in a flash, given the daily routine of work and classes, and my incessant social planning for the night ahead. Being forced to stay inside and social distance encouraged me not to just take a moment to myself; rather, it encouraged me to take the full day to myself. After a glass or two of wine by the window, I put on some of my favorite jams, and danced like a total fool in the comforts of my living room. Yes, it’s socially acceptable to dance like a total fool at the club, but isn’t it way more fun to let your freak flag fly at home? The best part was that I got to be my very own DJ!
Of course, no birthday is truly complete without the warm presence of family and friends. Thanks to the technological advancements of the 21st century, I could spend time with those who lived across the globe through the novel videochat invention. What a time to be alive, huh? Even though there are some conspiracy theory memes that Zoom is behind the virus, I would like to give the videochat enterprise a shoutout for making all my Zoom birthday celebrations a reality.
First, I shared a Zoom call with my family, in which my Jewish parents chided me for getting tipsy in the middle of the day even though I’m technically an adult who can make my own (albeit questionable) decisions. Regardless, my family showered me with so much love even from afar – all the way from the streets of Long Island to the streets of Jerusalem.
My friends in New York City were also eager to share a slice of virtual birthday cake with me, so they thoughtfully planned a Zoom party in my honor through Facebook. Alas, the birthday girl can’t always have her cake and eat it too, so naturally, there were some technical difficulties along the way. Because of my spotty wifi, everyone else on the call was able to hear each other, while my own screen kept freezing and losing connection. Nevertheless, my friends in Israel and across the globe still managed to sing me an off-key Happy Birthday, which is really all a simple girl like me needs to feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I realized that I wouldn’t have even celebrated with my friends abroad if not for quarantine – I would have been too preoccupied with trying to get the bartenders’ attention for another drink at the bar instead. The silver lining of a global virtual celebration truly made all the difference.
My final Quarantine Birthday celebration was similar to the end of a lot of party nights in college – recapping the day’s events with the girls. My old tight-knit college crew got together for a more private gathering on Hangout, where we could have an authentic catch-up on each other’s lives, and how much we’ve grown and changed since the college days. Even one of my friend’s cats made a guest appearance!
There’s nothing quite like the trash-talking, witty banter, and declarations of deep affection exchanged at a first-rate girl talk. If you haven’t experienced one, you’re truly missing out. Ain’t nobody messing with my college clique!
So what makes my quarantine birthday different from all other birthdays? For the first time in forever, it wasn’t about the hustle and bustle, and partying till the break of dawn. This birthday was an opportunity to be mindful, peaceful, and present. It was a chance to appreciate my health and the gift of another year of life, especially in these difficult times. Lastly, it made me remember to cherish all the family and friends I have in my life, no matter the distance because they’re the people that make life worth living. So how was my birthday in quarantine?
A total blessing in disguise.