I have come to the end of my thirties.
Coincidentally, a great many of us have birthdays during the same period. Consequently, we saw quite a lot of one another, taking turns to celebrate various birthdays. In fact, my celebrations were bookended by Joy’s dinner at Atout & Trina’s lunch at Origins, both sumptuous affairs.
For my fortieth birthday, I just wanted to catch up with friends whom I had experienced my thirties meaningfully with. The very same people whom I’d meet on a regular day, regardless of whether it was a good one or a bad one. I guess that’s what friends do.
A particular group of gals whom I had a strong bond with in my thirties, I refer fondly to as The Exes. The reason is that we four were all Ex-Presidents of the Association of Women Doctors Singapore. Together, Drs June, Iro, Karen & I racked up eight years of service & close friendship. Naturally, The Exes were part of my dinner party, alongside some other special ladies whom I can count on for sisterly support.
One of the things I learnt recently from these wise women is to accept the apology that was never offered. That should save me from stress-induced premature aging, a timely intervention if there ever was one.
Before & After
Some celebrations intermittently punctuated my travels.
Before I flew to Tokyo, my Bubble Buddies, Matt & Lydia, met me at the newly launched restaurant in Marina Bay Sands, where Yardbird Rules The Roost. They pampered me with Pares Balta Prosecco and surprised me with the loveliest coconut cake.
Immediately after I flew back from Remembering What Love Means In Hong Kong, I had to rush to work. Dear Sara-Ann K, was sweet enough to visit me at the hospital before my shift. After years of celebrating my birthday with me, she finally put a ring on it. You can imagine us silly billies bursting into the same Beyoncé song spontaneously in Delifrance. Jokes aside, I was thankful for this sweet jade & topaz gift, and even more, for our friendship.
Aged & Cultured
Similarly, before I flew to Austin, I had dinner with colleagues who are fellow warriors on the frontline of critical care.
As I have known them for more than half my life, we tend to laugh easily with one another. For instance, when a platter of cold cuts arrived, Peter photographed me posing with it as the dish is known on the menu as “Aged & Cultured”. Feeling ancient, I obliged. Then Khai cheekily asked Arif to pose with the oysters, which he says are “Fresh & Plump”. In retort Arif tells Khai to grab the sashimi with wasabi since he is “Raw & Spicy”. We all agreed sweet Shu-Ling must hold up a glass of bubbly as she is “Young & Bubby”. Dear Peter got away lightly by posing with his bottle of Pierre Peters.
Presently they took turns to share some blessings and words of kindness. However I had to stop them after I started to cry. Being warriors, we are not used to this kind of emotional scene.
Moment of Truth
The next day, I got on a plane. At the stroke of midnight, on my actual birthday, I was somewhere in the sky between Manchester & Houston, watching Crazy Rich Asians and feeling proud of how far Singaporean actors have come. I was alone but not lonely. The truth is, my heart was full. I had celebrated the end of my thirties with friends whom I had either grown up with or will grow old along with. As the 19th century poet Browning said, now echoed by generations of ACS schoolboys, “The best is yet to be.” See? I really am aged & cultured.