Friday, September 07, 2012

Baby Head Meatballs and Mini-Hat Headbands

When I was young, birthday parties usually consisted of having friends over, maybe some presents, maybe a slumber party, always a charming homemade cake my mom had slaved over, and very often a trip to the Pizza Hut up the street, where my friends and I would crowd our tan gangly legs around those dark wood and red Formica tables, giggle over pitchers of Coke and our little personal pan pizzas, talking about our summers and school starting and the books we'd read or movies our parents had taken us to see. I felt surrounded and warm and safe and giddy with my friends all around me during those parties. Things haven't changed much.


To celebrate my birthday a couple of weeks ago, we did pretty much the same thing we did at my birthday party when I turned 10. The clothes and hair are better than they were in 1985, but the feeling is the same. I felt surrounded and giddy and warm and safe, and lucky, really lucky.


I have this crew of people that I love. People who I can act like an idiot around. Basically people I can be myself with, no need to impress, no need to act like someone I'm not, because these are my people. They get me, and they still love me, even though they know me so well, disturbingly well. So we pretty much had a 10 year old Kassie birthday party. We ate at a wonderful Italian restaurant with portions so significant, and meatballs so sizeable, one of my best friends, Tara, said "That's the size of a baby's head." And it was. Only much more delicious than an actual baby head, I would guess. Though those clean baby heads do smell amazing.


We ate saucy yummy Italian, we drank more wine than I did at 10, but other than that and the upgrade from personal pan pizzas, it was pretty close to the same party. We talked about books and movies and our summers. We talked about how having kids steals your ability to keep up with current events. Mike, who is the father of two little girls said " I didn't know Neil Armstrong died, but I watched Aladdin three times today."


We talked about triathlon training and the enigma that is both loving and hating running, we laughed and teased each other, and generally I felt like a 10 year old in a 37 year old body. I embraced being kid so much that I kept snorgling (this a snort/giggle) and asking people if they wanted to "sample my balls." My meatballs, duh. Did I say I'm lucky? Because I really am. These people make me feel lucky.


And then afterward, after we noshed on fancy pants ice cream across town at a little fancy pants ice creamery, (I had this most delicious salted pretzel and fleur de sel ice cream combo) I got to participate in something 10 year old me would have killed to do, I wandered around this ridiculous accessories store called Charming Charlie's and tried on strange hats and enormous cocktail rings while taking pictures of my friends. There was much snorgling. It was stupid fun. We put on fedoras and cowboy hats, bowed creations, veiled funeral hats and headbands with mini-hats attached. You really need to try on a mini-hat headband, it's the dumbest thing, but you'll kind of want one.

Kristen Ringwald?
Trying on ugly hats, except Kristy makes this one cute!
Liquid eyeliner and a very fetch hat.

So now that the birthday celebrations are all concluded for the year, dinner with family out of town, dinner with friends, and a fabulous meal with my mom and brother last weekend, complete with a cherry limeade pie that, while my mom may not have slaved in the kitchen to make, she certainly stood forever at the store trying to decide what to buy, I think 10 year old me would approve of how 37 year old me has celebrated. I think she would be thrilled with the people I've chosen to surround myself with, thrilled that I've found the kind of friendships and relationships that are so valuable, real and strong. And she and I both want to say thank you to my people. Thank you for celebrating with me this year, listening to my stupid meatball jokes and actually laughing, and for being exactly who you are, because you all are exactly who I need.

All photos courtesy of the superb Joe Sands, except those last three goofy ones, those are all me.


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