“Some places have seasons, others only climates—so with people” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Sarah Stephens by ©Craig MacPhee

Image © Craig MacPhee

An Interview with Sarah

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

A. For the past couple of years my birthday has not really been a time for celebration, in fact, I have pretty much tried to avoid it all together. That being said my 30th was pretty special. Just a regular day at the office until lunch rolled around and my 2 best friends (and work colleagues) told me we were going somewhere. We drove to a house in  a suburban part of the city and that’s when I realized where we were, a glass blowing studio of some of my favourite Calgary artists! We got to watch them work and they had ordered me a set of scotch glasses that I had been coveting forever! When I got home I realized that my best (friend) from back home (in Ontario) had flow out to spend the weekend with me. That day was the first time I felt special and loved since I moved out west.

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. I have a super close and loving family, but my dad (being a little “quirky” himself) has always been the one whom I felt really got me, we had a special bond. The summer I was 25 he was diagnosed with leukemia and things went down hill fast. I watched my pillar of strength, my unwavering defender, my biggest fan, my hero, CRUMBLE, and I was broken. He died the eve of my 26th birthday right after we had all fallen asleep by his. I cannot think of anything worse than losing a parent when you still need them. (I guess you always need them). There is an emptiness that comes from knowing half of what you are is gone – I’m not over it yet and I’m not sure I will ever be.

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

A. My boyfriend, knowing that my record collection had gone unplayed for years as I was holding out on finding a very special turntable, reached out to my brother back home ( whom he had never met and found over Facebook) found out what type my dad had. Then he got my friends to distract me so he could put it in my living room, with new speakers and an amp that he rebuilt. I cried like a big stupid baby, it was the most thoughtful and special gift I have ever received.

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

A. A bottle of red wine or a stiff drink in the tub at midnight. That’s been my tradition for the past 5 years. Apart from that any additional treats are arbitrary. As long as there is booze and cigarettes I will be satiated.

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

A. Oh boy – well, these days the only things that matter around that day are friends, family and love. The older I get the less concerned I am with going out or making a fuss over it. Last year I had a quiet night at home with my boyfriend and my best friends. Small group, good music on the record player, lots of laughs and even more love. It was perfect.

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

A. Cards in the mail, phone calls and Skype dates.