It was my birthday last week. While most of us hate turning a year older, I must admit I am not of this thinking – at least not since I turned 40. (That was 3 years ago!). My fabulous friends organized a blow out surprise party for me and let me tell you, there was LOTS of love in the air!
As I have often said, my friends are really my family, and have been so for many years. Sure, when I got married in 2006, I thought I would finally have a ‘REAL’ family, my own. Well, I was wrong. I married a narcissist who already had been wed and who had 2 small children. I thought that such a situation was the most I could ever hope for, seeing that I was already in my mid-30s. Again, I was wrong. I tried and tried to ‘fit the mold’, but it didn’t work. Being married to a narcissist meant that I gave and gave and he took and took. After being with him for a little over 5 years, I was spent. I hated my life and everything it stood for. I worked too much (unconsciously trying to survive in a toxic situation), had to travel 3 hours in traffic to get to my ‘vampire’ job, only to be thrown out with the garbage by a man who was focused on HIS well-being and no one else’s. His children suffered (their mother is a narcissist too), I suffered and he suffered too. At that time, my closest friends were also narcissists…and I had no idea. Well, things have changed, and for the better!
A party was organized last Thursday to celebrate my 43 years. All I knew was that someone would tell me where to be and when. Actually, my dear friend France’s job was to ‘take care of me’ until the guests were ready for my arrival. She came to my apartment, and we started with a nice glass of wine. She was getting text messages and phone calls from the organizers (Sweet Isabelle and Manon), and after about an hour or so, it was time to go. She asked if I would mind being blindfolded so to keep the surprise until the last-minute. Since I LOVE surprises, I happily obliged. So we put a fuzzy red scarf over my eyes and got in her car. After about 10 minutes, we arrived at our destination. She helped me out of the car, and guided me through the parking lot to the ‘bar’ where the festivities were to be held. I walked in to be greeted by Manon and other bar customers (whom I didn’t know) who started laughing at my get-up. I didn’t even care as from that moment I already felt the LOVE. We walked up the stairs to a private party area, and I anxiously waited for the signal to take off my blindfold. When I did, I looked around to see a group of lovely people screaming ‘SURPRISE’! There were people from my distant past, my past and my present. A former student who I taught 10 years ago was there (I hadn’t seen him since then), former colleagues from past jobs with whom I’ve kept in contact, a present colleague and of course, my fabulous girlfriends. I was so surprised my legs became jello and I was speechless. For those of you who know me, you know very well I am NEVER speechless! But this phenomenal moment was only the beginning!
I went to a comedy show a few weeks ago with one of the guests, Sylvie. It was given by a Montreal comic, who is of Indian decent, but was raised in Punjabi, English and French. His show was bilingual, and is the first of its kind in Québec. Sylvie and I had a blast – since we are both bilingual, this show was right up our alley. During and even after the show, I told my friends that ‘I need to marry Sugar Sammy. He is just like me! ( as a joke, of course!!) Silly, bilingual and able to laugh at himself, not just those he makes fun of.’ Well, this sentence stuck as the theme of my birthday party was ‘Paulette will marry Sugar Sammy!’ I had to wear a veil (funny, I never had one at my own wedding all those years ago), there were cards with a wedding theme, there were even wedding party favours. How original and yes, only I would be crazy enough to enjoy such a thing! I was immediately served champagne, and there was food elegantly laid out on tables. There was even music and a microphone for karaoke (should we get drunk enough to use it!). On top of all that, one of the guests, a big surprise, was a wonderful young man who Isabelle, Manon and I met in Cuba last summer. He may be in his early 20s, but is an old soul and a wonderful person. Not a guy on the ‘cruise’, just a nice man who appreciates good people. He immediately took over the music, and we had a TOP NOTCH DJ at our disposal. So we danced our asses off and had so much fun. My dear friend Brigitte made 1 of the cakes (yes, I had 2!) and Isabelle’s mother made the other. So following the wedding theme, I had a 2-tiered cake: bottom was homemade Red Velvet with Cream Cheese icing, and the top was homemade Chocolate cake. Was I spoiled or what? Brigitte’s boyfriend, generous Guy, kept me going in Cosmopolitans; all I had to do was say ‘Guy, I’m ready for anther one!’
Sophie was our decorator, and she paid much attention to detail. Nancy bought me a fabulous card that everyone signed. Carol, Kay and Sylvie gave me gifts (yes, I even got gifts; the party was gift enough but I digress)….
To make a long story short, after much dancing and drinking in fabulous company, we closed the bar at 3:30. Dear Isa put me in a taxi and off home I went. I was out of commission on Friday (thank God I decided to take the day off!) as I don’t let myself go like that anymore…too old! But I know that everyone had a wonderful time and enjoyed themselves.
My wise friend Brigitte said a very important sentence to me the next day, one I will always hold close to my heart: “Paulette, you bring people together -even though some of us had never met, we all have one thing in common, we love you, we got along great and [we are all nice and wonderful people].” She is so right. I added the last part of the quote as Brigitte would never say that, but it’s so true. But she is as wonderful as all those who were there if not more – she took me out on Friday, cooked me food (I was too hung over to do so) and spent the day with me. Now is that fantastic or what? And she is not even ‘Family’. But you know, she and all my friends are the BEST FAMILY anyone could hope for. And I am so grateful to have them….THANK YOU!!
“My friends are my estate.” – Emily Dickenson
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” -Cicero