Well, here is the update email I have promised a bunch of you! Complete with photos and stories from the last two weeks. Well, not so much this week as the busy week that preceded it. So let us go back to Friday, May 25 th…
In the afternoon I went to the graduation of one of the girls I’m tight with – was so special to be there! I have a photo of us (her complete with gown and cap!) and the bunch of flowers she then handed to me – because they matched my dress. Well, that and she had a dozen other bouquets! In the end I was glad I hadn’t brought her flowers myself!
That evening was the end-of-year youth group formal dinner. By end-of-year, I mean end-of-northern-hemisphere-school-year – considering my involvement with youth here, and the fact that my flatmate and several other close friends are teachers, I am starting to get used a September-May year. Still rather odd if I try to think of what’s happening in Australia concurrently, but I’m starting to get the hang of it.
The youth event was amazing! It was held at the Embassy of Guyana – two of the ambassador’s daughters attend our youth group, so they graciously offered their residence for us to use. The back yard was set up with tables and chairs and lights, one of our favourite restaurants (a tex-mex place) catered the event, and there were plenty of pretty dresses and plenty of silly dancing. It was themed “a night in Paradise” and everyone got leis or shell bracelets, and there were limbo and hula-hoop competitions. Lots of fun!
The most special part for me was my dress :) Back before quitting my job, I had planned to have a dress made for the event. I had some fabric, but no idea what to do with it. But with my change in circumstances I decided it would be better to abandon the idea of getting something new and put together something from my wardrobe like last year. It’s not like I have a shortage of clothes! Anyway, as sensible as that was, I still really wanted a dress, like a little girl wanting to be pretty. My friends were going off to the market to have dresses made, or going shopping to find things, and I declined their invitations to join because I knew I’d just get all silly and wistful and I didn’t need a dress so I shouldn’t be sad about it! I actually thought about asking my flatmate if our small group might like to contribute some money as a birthday present to help me buy a dress – but then I decided that was a silly thing to ask for. So unnecessary! So, when 5 of the guys got together and made me their own little gift certificate for a custom made outfit and took me to the market to get a dress made…. I was literally speechless! And almost in tears ;) And just utterly overwhelmed. It was SO special! One of the coolest birthday presents I’ve ever received. And it think it was a nice dress, too! Inspired by my year 12 formal dress, the first dress I felt really beautiful in, but more Chinesey. And more my colour ;)
The next night was the annual AmCham Charity Ball. This is a HUGE event every year, and each year they really work the theme. This year the theme was Men In Black, and a band I know was hired to play – and long story short, I was invited along to sing back up vocals for a few songs. It was so fun! Such a great opportunity for me – a chance to perform at a BIG event with very little pressure as I was singing quite expendable parts in only a few songs. I could write an entire email about the coolness of the event, but I won’t bore you that much!! I’m including a few fun photos though – there’s me and one of my best mates here with a neuralyser shot (coloured/flavoured vodka – a fun play on the theme!); posing with another friend at the entrance. I’m on tip toe to see over his shoulder, so you can see how tall the gent to his right is!; singing with the band for the MiB theme song, complete with dancing girls!; the band plays, and we dance! (I’m on the dance floor if you look closely J); a group shot of the band after the event; finally, I couldn’t resist the lovely headbands sported by the wait staff all night!!
The last big event I should mention was…. my birthday! A big thank you to all those who sent me mail – I received over 20 postcards/letters from 4 countries (3 continents!) and felt very special J In good form, a packet of letters arrived on my actual birthday! A lovely surprise! A group of friends took me to dinner at a semi-new Indian restaurant on Thursday night because we’d all be at youth group on Friday (my actual birthday). That was nice – there were pretty sheer curtains and candles and an open window with a ledge for sitting. And a pile of cream puffs (25, to be precise) with candles and a fun cake substitute! I spent most of Friday morning on the phone – 5 calls from Australia! – so I left for lunch feeling very special. An Aussie mum/mentor figure whom I adore took me to lunch at my favourite Thai restaurant – the second branch of the restaurant where I had my birthday lunch back in 2004, my first year in China. And the same waitress served us – but that’s another long story. There were two more calls in the afternoon, and some hang out time at Starbucks. In the evening was youth group – always a tonne of fun! One of my girls made me a cake (a really, really YUMMY cake!) too which was awesome :) As always, Joe made birthday girls and boys stand up the front and the group gathered on bended knee to give a loud (if not completely pitch perfect) rendition of Happy Birthday. Also as always, a bunch of youth leaders headed to Peter’s to eat and hang out after youth – so there were birthday margaritas and a big group photo and the waitresses wouldn’t let me pay for my piece of chocolate cake because it was my birthday! And the next day I got two more birthday calls – so all in all it was a wonderful birthday and I felt very special. Thank you all!
Okay, it’s youth group time again so I gotta go!