My friend Reuben popped round for a chat. It was late afternoon and I was in bed ill with the longest cold I’ve ever had.
“Hey, you know there’s a party tomorrow night. You going?” he asked with enthusiasm. At that moment his mobile phone beeped with a message: “Don’t forget PARTY tomorrow night. 3 rules– 1. No Guitarists 2. No Alcoholics 3. No one over 30!!”.
I thought to myself: “That rules out most of Hastings”, and answered with slight bitterness: “Well I’m 30 today so I guess that makes me a day too old”. A look of shock passed over his face.
An hour later I was alone, my body and head aching. I took some paracetamol and dragged myself out of bed to get ready for my birthday meal at the local Nepalese restaurant on the seafront.
I pulled a fourth coat over my feverish body and ambled down to the restaurant with my mum. I felt and probably looked like the Michelin man; it was not the look I had hoped to sport on my 30th birthday.
As soon as I walked into the restaurant I entered a different mindset and forgot I was ill. I walked over to the pre-booked table for 10. Some of my guests had already arrived which pushed illness and self-pity further from my mind.
I’ve never bothered much with birthdays. Anyone with a December birthday can empathise. Trying to have any sort of celebration around Christmas, other than that involving Christmas is pointless, but this year I felt I ought as it seemed like a monumental age.
We ordered a second round of poppadoms as guests slowly trickled in. Friends from Hastings Against War, my family, my lover all took places around the table. By the time everyone was seated it could have been an anti-war conference as, although not intentionally, everyone who came is in some way connected to the peace movement.
Gift upon gift was presented. I couldn’t believe everyone was being so generous, I didn’t feel worthy of such kindness and attention. It was even slightly embarrassing though I was very touched. Funny and obscure conversations bounded up and down the table as a banquet of food arrived.
By the time I placed the last forkful of food in my mouth the painkillers were starting to wear off. The gut-busting curry was making me feel queasy. My only desire was recline somewhere, anywhere. I staggered up the hill to my flat and dived under a mountain of quilts without removing my coats. As it turned midnight I entered my 31st year on earth in a cold sweat, banned from the latest “cool” party in town yet completely content with my lot in life.
Some people say that where you are at 30 defines who you are.
I’m not entirely sure if that’s even slightly true but if my celebratory party is any kind of indicator I am a sickly yet sober activist with mainly other activists for friends and family.