“If there is any hope for the world it can only be in small acts of personal kindness” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers
Self Portrait by © Camila Gargantini
An Interview with Camila
Q. What is the best memory you have from a previous birthday?
A. When I was kid, around grade 2 to 4 (not sure when exactly), I had the biggest crush on this kid at school which lasted a life time (until high school). I remember this birthday party at my condo party room – my mom knew how to throw a kid’s party. I got so many gifts that night, more specifically two pencil cases made out of fabric. They were identical except for the colour. The blue one was from a friend (I don’t remember whom anymore), and the red one was from my crush….I was so happy about that gift… I still have it – only the red one.
Q. How about the worst? And why?
A. It wasn’t the worst memory at the time it happened, but instead, it became the worst birthday related memory I have. In 1999 I had just moved to another state with my mother and I was turning 16 that year. One day I went to a concert with my friends from school and when arriving at my condo I was confused to be running into more friends at my building. As I proceeded to my floor, I realized that something was going on and that they were coming for a surprise party. I remember getting into my apartment and celebrating with about 10 friends. My mom was not there with us, she went to her room and at that time I assumed it was to allow me to have fun with my friends. She passed away just over 1 month after that and to this day, after putting together all the pieces of the puzzle, I realize that my mother was extremely sick and in her crazy ways of being, never really told anyone about how bad it was… and I, as a selfish teenager too concerned about nothing else but myself, didn’t even notice what was happening until it was too late. Now, every time I think of that birthday party, it hurts.
Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that surprised you most?
A. The one I can think of, most recently, was getting my dream car. My hubby took me to the dealership on Valentine’s day to look at it, so technically, it wasn’t a birthday present, but we picked it up the day before my birthday, so I guess I could say it was a birthday present.
Q. Is there a food or dish that you insist on eating on your birthday?
A. Brazilian everything! I love Brazilian hors d’oeuvres and desserts. So I always try and make/buy some for my birthday.
Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?
A. Funny enough I am a person that believes that everyday should be celebrated and not just our birthdays. I know it is probably cheesy or cliche to say that, but I had to learn very early and very quickly that life is too precious and short not to be celebrated every single day. For me, birthdays are a reminder that every year we get older and that we should strive to be better versions of ourselves; that new challenges will be ahead of us and that the work is never done. It is a reality check and a way to keep me grounded to deal with the inevitable cycle of life.
Q. Do you have any traditions or thing you always do to celebrate a birthday? What is it?
A. Ha…Family traditions… nope. Nothing.