“Nothing is by chance—everything happens because it has to” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers
Heather is an actress. I’ve known her for years, and ever since the beginning she has always had this air about her that can only be described as classy, sophisticated, crazy, daring, risqué, cat lover. When we were discussing ideas for her shoot, originally she was to be wearing one of her sexy gowns…but when I arrived, she had a different vision that obviously threw that idea out the window, and I loved it. I think the image we achieved captures the ultimate essence of her personality, right down to her colour coordinated bookshelf. I knew it would be great, but thank you Heather for continuing to be daring and making this photo possible. – Cyndal Lorch
Image © Cyndal Lorch
An Interview with Heather
Q. What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?
A. My 23rd birthday was the first one I celebrated without my family, who were still living in Texas while I was working in Toronto. However, I was lucky enough to have great friends, and what started as casual drinks ended up being a birthday party that took over most of the bar. I had friends there from high school, from university, from my workplace at the time– including a manager. The bartender came to drink with us after his shift, and one of my friends broke her hand on one of the heavy doors in this Victorian-home-turned-pub, but was having too good a time to admit how injured she was and leave the party. It was just a tonne of people having a great time, and I felt so loved by these people who had no obligation to love me, it was really great.
Q. How about the worst? And why?
A. I guess it was probably my 12th birthday, and my mom had agreed to let me have my first slumber party. I was so excited, we went to Toys’R’Us and I got to pick out slumber party games, and I imagined it being like everything ’90s TV had promised. Three friends ended up coming, including my best friend since grade 2. Unfortunately, one of the other girls had decided that she wanted my best friend for herself, and somehow managed to put me down and tease me in front of everyone until it got to the point that the other girls were pretending I didn’t exist, just theatrically ignoring me and my pleas to let me play the games, too. The party ended with me sobbing into my mother’s side while she called their parents to take them all home, NOW. That party was the first real strike in that girl’s campaign to bully me until home schooling was the only option for me to learn anything.
Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that most surprised you?
A. When I was 17 I had just started kinda-sorta dating my first boyfriend, this guy that went to high school with my best friend. Our first real date was after my actual birthday, because he had been on a school trip to Chicago, and had told me he had picked up a birthday gift for me while he was there. He very excitedly gave me a gift bag before we went into our date movie, and inside were… Three pairs of socks with different Marvin The Martian patterns on them. I was so surprised that A) He had gotten me a gift at all, B) He remembered I liked Marvin The Martian, and C) That he had brought three pairs of socks all the way from Chicago to gift me. It was actually kind of sweet, but definitely unexpected to get socks from a boy I liked. I still have a pair of those socks.
Q. Is there one food or dish that you insist in eating during your birthday celebration?
A. I get a lot of flack for this, but Swiss Chalet was my birthday dinner of choice growing up, no exceptions. I maintain that twenty years ago the food was a bit better, the restaurants higher quality, but back then getting Swiss Chalet dinners for 5 people was a big, unusually extravagant deal for my rural family. When I turned 30, I decided I didn’t want a big party on my birthday or a fancy dinner with my husband. What I did instead was go to The Ritz in the afternoon and have drinks with an open invitation for anyone to join me until 6pm, at which time my husband and I were going to go have dinner alone. What we really did was come home, order Swiss Chalet delivery, change into PJ’s and watch movies with a bottle of champagne. It was an absolutely perfect way to celebrate turning 30.
Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?
A. For me it’s all about gathering your favourite people around to celebrate life. I absolutely don’t need gifts, I just love the excuse for getting all my friends in one place so we can have some drinks, eat, share stories, laugh, and have a good time. I love it.
Q. Do you/your family/culture have any traditions/rituals/ceremonies that are performed to celebrate birthdays? What is it?
A. My family likes to start the day by singing you “Happy Birthday” literally first thing in the morning. When I was a kid my mom would wake me up by singing it, now she phones and starts singing as soon as you pick up. I’ve started doing this to my friends, either by phone or a SnapChat video. Another thing my family always does that I didn’t realize was unique until just this weekend when I had a birthday party for a friend, was put an extra candle on the cake for good luck in the coming year– and actually, having candles on a cake at all for an adult. I busted out 27 candles for my friend and he & everyone else were laughing that he was blowing out candles on a cake for his 26th birthday. I think they thought it was kind of adorable I’d do that, but to me, it’s a birthday, of course you have a cake with candles in it!