Last weekend I turned 25 years old.
This post is a break from my overland stories. This post is about life right now, and it’s about the last five years.
I could write a book about how I’ve felt since my travels ended and my life in Milwaukee has re-begun. It’s been hard. It’s been hard to transition back into the almost exact life that I once thought I loved. It’s been embarrassing going back to that exact life as well. Having my life move backwards instead of forwards. These past six months have seemed like some of the worst in the past five years. The week leading up to my 25th birthday was spent dully moving through the same job I’d had in Milwaukee since I moved abroad, to spending my evenings in bed eating Mexican food and watching the last couple seasons of Grey’s Anatomy and feeling lonely and sorry for myself. In the end, turning 25 wasn’t so bad.
Here’s a recap of my past five birthdays. From age 20 to age 25.
June 6, 2009- My 20th Birthday
I had just a few days before returned from a backpacking trip in Costa Rica and Panama with my boyfriend at the time, Jimmy. He was my first love, we were incredibly proud of ourselves for surviving two weeks in Central America at a time that was just before Costa Rica’s big tourism boom. The night before my birthday Jimmy and I celebrated with dinner at Stefano’s with my parents, feasting on calamari and veal and drinking champagne even though we weren’t quite of age. Later in the evening we burned Christmas tree’s in the backyard beach of my Grandma’s house in Sheboygan, a family tradition. The next day on my actual birthday we went down to Jimmy’s hometown of Waunakee to attend his little brother’s high school graduation. His family bought a cake decorated with a ladybug on top for me.
Me being a 19 year old babe yet in Puerto Viejo in my mom’s old bikini from the 70’s.
June 6, 2010- My 21st Birthday
This is really embarrassing, but on the night of my 21st birthday I didn’t wear any underwear and everyone saw my vagina and butt. I had been running a lot the month leading up to my birthday and bought a super tiny and thin bright pink dress from American Apparel. With my roommate Anna’s encouragement, I didn’t put on any panties, as you could see all undie lines right through it. We threw a party on the night of the 5th in our apartment just off North Avenue and went out at midnight. This means that everyone who was out on North that night saw these private parts of me as well. The night ended with me pounding on the Ian’s Pizza sneeze guard demanding a slice of Bacon Cheeseburger pizza which they were out of by that time in the wee hours of the morning. The next day, various friends met up with me for breakfast and bloodies at Hi-Hat Garage followed by a brewery tour at Sprecher after and then a pub crawl down Brady Street and North Avenue. I may or may not have ended my night at Axel’s.
Crossing North Ave in Adam’s arms. I know there are still a couple photos looming around on the internet of my butt from this unfortunate night.
June 6, 2011- My 22nd Birthday
My most vivid memory of this actual day is that my boyfriend at the time, Ryan, went out and bought a gun. Just to have! I remember crying on the stairs at his house, dressed up and ready to go out for dinner. We almost didn’t make our reservation which was at Sake Tumi for the Milwaukee Downtown Dining Week special. After dinner we ran into my current roommate Sarah and she bought me a jalapeno mojito at Trocadero. I had just moved into a couple of friend’s sunroom in their apartment on Prospect just for the three months of summer and the weekend following my birthday we had a pretty massive party for me. This was the party that our dear friend Dinah backhanded our not-so-dear friend Margaux in the face for being the bitch that she was. It was pretty epic, though the end of the night brought a lot of negative energy and many people left crying. Other notable mentions for this birthday party were our friend Matt showing up with Juggalo face paint on, a dead bird was given to me in a box saying “Happy Birday” and then there was the introduction of Jason to Sarah which in forth brought my very favourite two year old and housemate, Oliver into the world, about nine months later!
The Prospect housemates and I at my party, including Margaux who got backhanded, to my immediate right.
June 6, 2012- My 23rd Birthday
I was feeling very fresh the summer I turned 23. I had just broken up with Ryan and was planning my life escape to Australia. Everything was feeling magical and I thought my life was just where it needed to be. The night before my birthday I went out to eat with my family at Braise in Walker’s Point. Nothing special, we thought, and we’ve never been back since. This was the night of the recall election for Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker. After dinner I met a couple friends at Hotel Foster and learned that Scott Walker was not successfully recalled. It was a big bummer for everyone but a good friend made sure a Brand New song came on at midnight and I drank delicious peach cocktails for free for the rest of the night. The next night on my actual birthday, a group of my favorite friends pulled up to the Centro Cafe bar where Adam was bar tending and had a meal with me. We went out in Riverwest after. If anyone picked up a disposable camera that night at Foundation, I am still upset because that it went missing there. The weekend got better and better with way too many late nights out and rebounds for me. I closed it with the best Locust Street Days ever, falling asleep on a back porch somewhere in Riverwest.
We were drinking a lot of Mike’s Hard Lemonade at this point in my life. Kelly and I take time out of Locust Day for some Photobooth fun- note the studded shorts!
June 6, 2013- My 24th Birthday
My birthday last year I was living in Melbourne and getting pretty serious with Billy (wait, that’s a horrible phrase- getting pretty serious! Ugh!) We met at the Collingwood train station and he took me out for dinner at a surprise location, the Movida in Hoiser Lane. The best part of the meal was spicy beef tartare! We had some drinks in the CBD and then went back to mine to share a wine with my 63 year old roommate and look at his iPhone photos with him. The next day I splurged on a Mister Zimi dress to wear out for my birthday. I had people over at my beautiful Collingwood warehouse apartment and made everyone enchiladas, a dish that became my specialty in a country with little Mexican influence. A bunch of the Vans crew came over and we took some illicits and went to the Carlton Club where a workmate was having a going away party. Around 5 or 6 in the morning as we laid down to bed finally, Billy whispered very fast that he loved me for the first time.
Vans Crew at Carlton Club- Off the Wall!
June 6, 2014- My 25th Birthday
I avoided letting many people at work know that it was my birthday so that I wouldn’t have to get up during Shabbat Sing in front of the entire school and have them sing me a happy birthday. After work my parents and youngest brother came down and we went for dinner at La Merenda. It was good, but nothing was amazing. I’m getting bored of Milwaukee restaurants. After dinner I came home and Sarah and I popped open a bottle of champagne. I was coming to terms that that night might just be her and I drinking on the porch. Instead, I was surprised by our friend Dinah, who came up from Chicago though she said earlier in the week she was busy! We had some more people over and eventually made it out to Art Bar. I came home and passed out in the shower and had to be carried out by poor Sarah. The next day, Dinah, Sarah and I went for brunch at Wolf Peach. It was nice. Gay marriage was legalized the night before and Pridefest was happening at the Summerfest grounds so on Saturday night Dinah, her friend, and my friend’s from Sheboygan, Nancy and Darrick, danced our night away in a DJ tent there. I realized that I have been friends with Nancy for 15 years, as we remembered back to our 5th grade birthday parties. The next morning I woke with much anticipation for the best day of the year, Locust Street Days! The morning moved by at a snail’s pace but the day was almost just as magical as it was two birthday years ago. We drank Coconut La Croix with rum and saw Platinum Boys, Castle Thunder, Rio Turbo, the Fatty Acids and Kane Place Record Club. Kelly and I ended up in the wrong backyard after the fest was over. Shooting for the a friend of a friend’s bonfire , we accidentally wandered into their neighbor’s backyard which had a blow up bouncy castle going. We were invited in to play ‘Zombies’ with Cash, 4 and Ian, 7. They were even allowed by their parents to come over to the drug and alcohol fueled bonfire party next door with us. That’s Riverwest, I guess.
A crew assembles during Locust Street Days on Rebecca’s steps.
The end of the weekend left me feeling loved by all those who celebrated with me and love for Milwaukee, something I haven’t felt much of since I’ve moved back.