Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thirty-eight and a half

I have one little group of friends that meets approximately every four to six weeks for dinner. There are six of us, and for the first half of the year, somebody's birthday falls at just the right interval that we can use that excuse for our celebrations. We get jolly over cocktails and desserts with multiple spoons, and take turns buying each other dinner. And then after May comes a huge lull...nothing til my birthday. In December, three days before Christmas, when I am exactly as busy as every other person in my social register, tearing around shopping and attending corporate holiday parties and trying to keep the cats out of the decorated tree, yadda yadda. So this year, we elected to celebrate my half-birthday! (Technically, I suppose that would be in June, but screw it. Summer is far too late and brief, here, though it's gorgeous while it lasts.) Dining al fresco, which I have never done on my birthday in my whole entire life!

Seriously, I couldn't have enjoyed it more. We sat on the deck in the cafe portion of Ray's Boathouse, a Seattle institution that's been around so long that it's burned to the ground twice. (Okay, the second fire was somewhat better-contained, but that doesn't read as well.) Fruity cocktails were consumed, and beautiful seared halibut. Crab cakes and asparagus. A chocolate-chile-lime souffle cake for dessert, with fascinating layers of flavor to experience; the chiles were less a taste than a sensation, a slow burn that lingered and grew as the dollop of vanilla ice cream on top dissolved. We wore sunglasses. The long slow sunset blazed into our faces; we looked west over the still, calm Sound and the Olympic mountains in the distance. Good food, good friends, and a radical departure from my typical aging experience, and I am so grateful. (And wondering, what now will I do for my actual birthday, when I turn 39? For the first time?)

Oh, and then: I consumed a large mug of regular coffee, because yes, I am off to the late, late movies tonight...and taking a vacation day tomorrow to catch up. I am sun-toasted and pleasantly sated with dinner and generally blissed out. It feels like a genuine holiday. I should do this every year, to hell with the calendar.

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