My birthday was on Sunday, and I have to admit it wasn’t my best one. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to turning 35. It feels old to me. Mostly, though, with our city under quarantine and extreme unrest being felt across the country, I didn’t feel like celebrating. Beyond that, I awoke on Sunday to a text from a good friend that called my integrity – and that of my family – into question and was followed by an even more upsetting phone call. It truly put a damper on my entire day and extended well into this week. I tried to make the most of the day and weekend – and managed to enjoy myself to a degree – but I’d be lying if I said it was my best birthday. And I’d be lying if I said I was over it. But I shouldn’t be over it. Ideally we are all having tough and emotional conversations right now that cause us to reassess our views. In my case, one of those conversations has forever shifted a friendship, which saddens me deeply and is not something I’ll soon get over. I have spent the time since the conversation reflecting (and discussing with others, as this person suggested) and still believe myself to be a considerate and appropriate advocate but recognize that none of this will be easy as we all hopefully move to a place of understanding and change. I say none of this for pity; rather, it’s important – now, more than ever – to operate with a sense of transparency and openness. And to be transparent, I should recognize that while I post recipes, book reviews, and other happy things here, there are always more serious things happening in the background. All the happy things you see in this post, for instance, were framed by more serious events and my actions were not random. The food we picked up on Saturday was ordered for a specific time due to our citywide curfew; we attended a protest before heading into the park so our voices could be heard; almost all takeout orders we place are with black-owned restaurants because we also need to support with our wallet. So, yea, I had a kinda shitty birthday, but the important thing is that I’m intent on maintaining the integrity I know I have and making it a great year…and perhaps to continue finding moments of happiness while I handle those more serious things.

The main birthday celebration was on Saturday. We rented a car and drove to Warwick so we could hike a piece of the Appalachian Trail. I packed up pimento cheese sandwiches and my camera and we hit the road. It was an easy drive and a beautiful hike. On the way back, we stopped by two favorite downtown restaurants to grab meals for that night and [in advance for] Sunday night that we wouldn’t be able to access without a car. That night we dined on sushi and sake in the courtyard with perfect temps and no bugs.

Like I mentioned, my actual birthday got off to a rocky start and I almost just spent the day on the couch. Albert convinced me to push my funk aside and we grabbed food and made our way to the park. I love a full picnic, but my ideal park meal is pimento cheese sandwiches and fried chicken with a cocktail. There’s a great fried chicken spot directly across the street from Central Park so we made a quick pit stop on our way. It happens to be across the street from a great restaurant that’s currently operating a window so we each got cocktails to go (feelin like I was in Savannah with everyone turning a blind eye to open container laws!) and enjoyed a lovely meal on a park bench. We then got in a great walk all the way down to the Alice in Wonderland statue – one of my top three favorite places in the park. I may have been in a bad mood, but it really was a nice day.

We ate an incredible sushi meal outside this weekend. Although it’s been warm for a minute, this weekend was the first time I’ve hung out in the courtyard all season. It’s so nice to enjoy a meal in the fresh air.