This past weekend we celebrated my turning 23. Today, Monday, it’s officially my birthday. But during the weekend everyone has more free time and energy to celebrate. Monday’s are frequently filled with meetings, phone calls, and setting a strong work-tone for the rest of the week.
My Monday has been different. Although Christiaan and Mom are working, I decided to take the day off. Rowena too, is available for any and everything fun I would like to do today and is down to go to the beach with me later today. I spend my morning relaxing, enjoying the calm and quiet, diving into my book, but not before Luna, the cat, had come to claim his cuddles.
The morning also held some interntal reflection. I’ve been on the island for over a year now. Last year I celebrated my birthday here, toom, but I was a very different person then. The same way I was different when I celebrated my 19th birthday here. Sometimes it’s feels so abstract to think how so much time passes and we grow and learn each day, but only realise how we are different, how we’ve changed, when a larger chunk of time has passed. At least it has been that way for most of my life. Recently, I feel as if I’m more aware of the changes that I’m going through. Of the ways I’m growing, the things I’m processing, the path I’m choosing to be on each and every day.
I always enjoy birthdays. Not because of the gifts, going out to dinner or because of the birthday cake, although these are all aspects I do enjoy; rather it’s because a birthday always feels like somewhat of a fresh start. The same way New Years feels like a new beginning for many people. And it’s not so much that I can’t choose to do things differently on any given day, but birthdays and New Years tend to put things in a different perspective, a moment to take time and actively look at your life through a more refletive lens.
Funnily enough, my birthday has always signified a change in my life. When I turned 10, I moved out of my home country for the first time, embarking on the adventure that would make my life as magnificent as it is now. Upon turning 12, I moved to Rome, diving deeper into a wonderfully international life. Turning 18, I was ready for university. I was closing the Rome chapter and moving to Paris. When I turned 21, I felt as if I was starting my ‘adult’ life. Not because I turned 21 (although I know in the U.S. that is of great significance) but more so because I had just graduated college, I was about to start full-time working, and I was moving to an island and had no clue as to how long I would be staying. Turning 22, my life felt as if it were entering a new phase – one of uncertainty but opportunity. I just said goodbye to my dad, I had packed up everything I owned into storage, and returned to the island I have come to call my home. When I turned 22, I realised that, for the first time in my life, I was no longer tied to one location that was ‘home’. Since the beginning I’ve known that living in St. Barth is temporary, a place to always return to, a place where mom will always be, but not the place I will spend my forever, even though it has come to feel like home.
So what big change is 23 going to bring? Some I already know but can’t share just yet (keep an eye out for a blog post soon). Others I have no idea. Life has been moving at full speed ahead, and I’ve been steering myself in the direction of choosing things for myself, of doing things for myself, and the more I stand in my own power, the more I feel empowered, worthy, and capable. I’m excited for what this next period is going to bring for my writing career, for my other work career, and for myself in general. My goal is to take you along for the journey, as much as I can. I do definitely want to write more, but I also know this is for fun and for my own enjoyment, so we’ll see where life takes me!
But besides the philosophical reflection, I had a fantastic birthday weekend, and I finally get why people spend a weekend or more celebrating themselves!
Saturday we did our usual morning coffee, and after eating Dutch pannenkoeken (pancakes) for lunch, I relaxed, wrote, watched some netflix, and played cards with my family. That evening we were supposed to go out to dinner but after Christiaan had a fever, we decided to order pizza and stay at home, finishing our cardgame after dinner.
Sunday we properly celebrated my birthday, starting the morning hanging out with my mom in our PJs, drinking tea on the outside couch, and filling the late morning with coffee, cake, and candles. Or rather, cakes, plural. Besides the heavenly chocolate cake, that even my mom, a non-chocolate fan adores, I also made a Zandtaart (‘sandcake’) which is like a cookie base, filled with cream and strawberries. Rowena isn’t the chocolate fan, so we get to enjoy both cakes on special celebrations. Then birthday celebrations had to be put on pause, as it was time for football! The EuroCup finals! Forza Italia!! Although the Netherlands fell out too early, making the whole EuroCup a bit less exciting, having Italy win still makes me feel proud – Italy will always feel like home; it always has a piece of me. And what a match it was!! I thought I was going to explode with nerves the whole 90 minutes.
After the game was over, I relaxed while Mom and Christiaan prepared our dinner, which consisted of a cheese platter, some oven-baked zucchini slices, sun-dried tomatoes, and the remaining champagne from that afternoon. After dinner, we watched ‘My Octopus Teacher’, a documentary on Netflix, which was absolutely beautiful, although I did doze off a little bit, tired from the day’s energy and eccitement.
I went to bed happy and woke up this morning feeling the same way. My phone already filled with messages from family and friends from all over the globe.