Sunday, February 28, 2010

Birthday Blues

I have celebrated two birthdays this week, my own and my son's. Whilst we both have had great days, for some reason I am left feeling a little deflated. For my birthday I had high hopes of working out, shopping, a coffee and some dinner with hubbie. Instead, I was home alone with a sick child. I found myself scrabbling around to get my son picked up at school, two friends thankfully helped out, but I was left with a small feeling of isolation. What if they hadn't? What would I have done? Put a sick child with a high temperature in a smelly cab or subway car and dash uptown? At that point I would have killed for my old, clean, safe Volvo. Thankfully, things picked up and I went out for dinner with hubbie and friends the following night. But again, the fancy french restaurant came up short. The food was overworked and undercooked. My mind wondered to my old favourite restaurants in Hertfordshire which would have wiped the floor with this french fraud.

I had high hopes for my son's birthday. Having watched him flicker signs of homesickness across his face over the last few weeks, I decided a reincarnation of the 'Great British Birthday Tea' was in order. So, I dragged them uptown in a snowblizzard (literally a white out) to a british bolt-hole of comfort food called 'Tea and Sympathy'. I gave him free reign of the store and watched with glee as he gasped at the Smarties, Polo Mints, Hobnobs, Quavers, Hula Hoops and other such old familiar treats. I felt smug with success, 'Mission Anti-homesick' accomplished! Then we went next door to the cafe, for baked beans, bacon butties and tea. Yes, I thought, this is just what we need. For pudding, my son ordered 'Treacle pudding and custard', as they brought it to him, lit with a candle and the whole cafe sung 'Happy Birthday', I really began to believe that I had annihilated all our blues with one swipe of my credit card. As he blew out the candle, he looked at me and said sadly, 'Mum, this was my favourite pudding at my old school. We don't get pudding at my new school'. Damn...back to square one.

Still, not to be defeated, I took a two pronged attack. A double whammey skype session with some old friends and a playdate with some new friends. Over compensation, me? The skype session, left me bereft. It is not a surprise that eight year olds do not find the skype experience the same as building a den or playing hide and seek in the garden. It's just crap in comparison. The playdate was a lot of fun and our new friends loved trying out the british birthday tea. But as I pushed the cookie cutter into the cucumber sandwiches, I could feel this nagging emptiness, it was like I could actually feel and taste my old kitchen. I could hear the doorbell ring and see the kids our running in the garden. It felt like grief.

So, maybe this is the way birthdays are going to be and maybe this is the price I will pay. Or maybe, this is just part of the relocation process. Or maybe New York just isn't New anymore.

yours with tea and toast

Torie B

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