“The perfect marriage of pleasure and pain can be found in the realm of love” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Rita Tam by ©Joel Robison

Image © Joel Robison

An Interview with Rita

Q. What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?

A. I think one of my best memories was actually one of my earliest birthdays. It was my first sleepover, so imagine the excitement, the screaming, having a bunch of girls in one room… and scaring ourselves silly. It was fun and absolutely care-free. I just remember staying up very “late” (past midnight!?) , whispering away to one of my friends and telling each other stories.

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. The worst was actually my 21st.. so many expectations for that birthday. I remember celebrating it at Uni. I went out for dinner with some friends, and then got food poisoning the next day from the meal so it wasn’t such a great memory!

Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that most surprised you?

A. The present that I have received that most surprised me is also my most  favourite one- my first guitar. I always wanted to play the guitar as a child but I never had the confidence to ask for one. Then before I had my 22nd birthday I was talking to my friend’s dad who is a classical guitarist and I mentioned to  him that I really wanted to learn and play the guitar. He offered to find one for me but I didn’t really believe that he would!

Q. Is there one food or dish that you insist on eating during your birthday celebration?

A. I must have cake!! I guess that isn’t original but I love to bake so cake is a known speciality of mine. And when I was younger, I always requested my sisters’ ice-cream cake which they would make in the shape of the age I was turning.

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. The most important aspect for me is celebrating with your loved ones and  sharing that experience of being  thankful for the year gone and excited for the year ahead. It is a good way to see who you have bumped into over the  years.

Q. Do you/your family/culture have any traditions/rituals/ceremonies that are performed to celebrate birthdays? What is it?

A. One little thing I do, not for every birthday but at times, I have written a letter to myself for the year ahead. Otherwise I and my family just follow the main tradition of sending cards, buying presents for celebrating a birthday.