Birthdays can be the happiest days of our lives.
But they can also be some of the saddest days..
I tend to get especially emotional and sensitive during my birthday, because I miss spending my birthday in the company of friends and family in Singapore, and a tinge of homesickness usually starts creeping in.
And, because I’ve always paid special attention to the importance of birthdays, I always make an attempt to call my good friends and loved ones when it’s their special day, to let them know they are loved and thought of and remembered, even though I may be half the world away. Especially because I do that, I tend to hope for the same on my birthday, and that’s when disappointment sets in – when you realize that maybe for them, cards and phone calls have been easily replaced by a text message on the phone or Facebook. And that, perhaps, it’s really just the act of wishing you a happy birthday that matters to some of them, even though a call with a real life familiar voice at the other end of the line would mean the world to me.
I think this has always been one of the hardest things to adjust to, since I’ve uprooted myself from home in Singapore, and chose to live in a completely different time zone and continent from friends and family in Singapore. I’m definitely thankful for the advancement in technology that has given us the gift of easy communication through Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and the likes (what would I do without them?).
However I haven’t forgotten the beauty of voice communication, where you get to hear the tone and intonations of the voice of the person you’re speaking to, and where in an instant you feel warmth and love despite the millions of physical miles in between.
Living in Argentina has perhaps also played a huge part in making me crave more human interaction.
It is being here – where the people treasure and prioritize having coffee with friends over long conversations, where hugs and kisses form a very natural part of everyday life, and where eye contact, gestures and calls are very much the foundation of any relationship – which has filled a longing for more human contact, a longing whose void was perhaps not so filled back home.
Perhaps it is me who has not moved on with the times, in which emotional contact through calls has been easily substituted with a Facebook wall post or a free Whatsapp message. But sometimes I still think…that maybe even an email would be better than just a short message written without much thought?
But I refuse to wallow in self-pity or sadness, when I am indeed blessed.
Blessed to have friends and people who welcome me into their family here in Buenos Aires, blessed to be surrounded by the many who greeted, called, hugged and embraced me on my special day, a day which was filled with love and joy.
I choose to count my blessings and thank God for these beautiful friendships which have arisen during the past years, and for those who I still hold dear in Singapore.
And like I said, birthdays can also be the happiest days of our lives.
Through the act of gathering and celebrating another year, the act of eating together and spending these few precious moments in the company of amazing people whom I love, cherish and admire, I look around and thank God for the love I am showered with.
This week has been less cooking and more eating out, and I’m toasting to some very special people in my life!
To Juan, who has always been here for me, TE AMO!
To Shawn, for being the very best cousin ever, and staying close despite the distance, for always remembering to call and send cards, and for your warmth and love! Thank you!
To my beautiful friend Suzy! Because every time we talk on the phone I feel like we’ve picked up exactly where we left off, and hope you know I love you!
To Luisa and Mercedes … thank you for spending my birthday with me, and for your friendship and love. LAS QUIERO!!
And to Belen and Agustina, whose companionship here in Argentina is so invaluable. LAS QUIERO MONTON!!