Celebrating one’s birthday is important. It marks the day, month and time you entered this world, and birthdays usually offer clear markers in life.
By markers in life I mean, in the UK, when you turn 17 years old, you can apply for a drivers license, at 18, you are legally able to go into a pub and order your tipple. Turning 21 is also another mile stone, and many celebrate with a party, family members give presents (various), and I remember in my younger years, seeing ‘keys’ that can be bought with the numbers of 18 and 21 – as a notion of here’s the ‘key to your life.’ Such a gift represents and signifies the transition into adulthood. Sometimes a key is given when a person or couple buy their first house, it can mean wealth, happiness or even the key to one’s heart.
My 21st birthday comprised of a personalised number plate. At the time, I didn’t drive, I’d attempted and given up for other personal reasons, but none the less, I was gifted with a personalised plate. At this time, I was at University, my 2nd year and it landed on a Wednesday. Wednesdays at my alma mater were sports (something I did not partake in), but after all of the clubs had finished running around on fields or in sports halls, everyone piled into the Student’s Union (SU) bar, and then onto THE nightclub in town. This particular nightclub was known as Liquid.
My birthday, on a Wednesday meant friends from my course and housemates piled into the SU bar. We were lucky, karaoke was the order of the evening, and tonight was a special night, it was my 21st Birthday. Me and my friends – some of whom I still stay in touch with, and after selecting a suitable Ballard, we threw ourselves up onto the stage like penguins rising from the ocean. The drinks were flowing – and too freely, there was laughter, mickey taking, stories been told. We were an intergenerational group of musketeers, comprising of people between 20 and early 50s.
Once our lungs were exhausted, we skipped down into the town, to Liquid. For some, this was a new experience, of venturing into the club on a student night. For other’s it was a typical Wednesday night. Shapes were been thrown out, drinks bought, and smiles all round. I ventured on to campus the following day, to see who had survived the night before. There weren’t many. One of my friends – who no longer is with us, had come onto campus, and was drinking water, while contemplating a form of a cooked breakfast. The oldest of the group, stated very clearly that he would not be coming out with us again… Only days later did this information reach me, as he had problems making it up the stairs to bed that night, and rumour had it, he slept on the staircase. Man down.
For many, birthdays are a time where the lucky person organises a night out, a dinner, a take out, an activity or even a little getaway. COVID-19 has put pay to such celebrations. For some people, they will have family in their individual ecosystem who will be there to celebrate such an occassion. However, for others this won’t necessarily be the case.
Today is no different. It’s a friends birthday and we had arranged to hangout, for him to come over, I’d have been cooking, and we would have been catching up with each other’s busy schedules. But once again COVID-19 is that unwelcome visitor. I suspect my friend won’t be spending his birthday entirely on his own, he has recently moved into a shared house, and at least there are several other people in the house. However, my friend is a social animal. He loves nothing more than going out, throwing some shapes out, and maybe even having a cheeky snog at the end of the night.
For people like my friend, COVID-19 has landed in a time when he should be celebrating his birthday. Facetime will allows us to chat and for me to wish him ‘Happy Birthday’. Although Facebook reminds users of birthdays. It can also facilitate the obligatory birthday greetings and provides users the opportunity to let that person know that you’re thinking of them, and to send well wishes.
Happy Birthday my friend – we’ll celebrate on the other side