I celebrated my birthday this past Saturday, and I want to first and foremost thank everyone for all of the love they showed me that day. Before I came here, I worried that out of sight would mean out of mind. That I would live my life here and people would go on living their lives at home with the time and distance creating a rift between us. Luckily, I have never felt that way since I actually arrived, and in fact have come to feel and appreciate those bonds now more than ever. I have already talked a lot about this, and I am sure I will do so even more in the future, but I had to say it again here.
This past weekend I went to the neighboring town of Ibanda to visit two of my losest PCV friends Charlene and Brian and to celebrate my birthday.
Before I go on with my day, I need you to know something about me. One of my favorite ways to mark special occasions is by severe overeating. Whether it be exclusively eating Chicago deep-dish pizza during a 3 day trip with Danimal, a gluttonous Super Bowl eating competition with Ian, Mix, and Fro, ungodly amounts of protein after the completion of a particularly brutal day of lifting legs with Pat, ludicrous amounts of Grandma’s Pizza + Katzinger’s Deli for the OSU football game with Luke, Rees, Ally and Katie, ice cream for just about any movie night with Mike, and especially the incomparable feasts during holidays with the Lebanese Mafia. Although I generally do my best to always eat healthy, these special occasions are one of my favorite ways to celebrate.
Anyway, this past birthday was no different. After a relatively nutritious breakfast of banana, cocoa, and peanut butter oatmeal, we made our way from Brian’s to Charlene’s. There, we dined on a lunch of GIANT chocolate chunk and banana pancakes. Lacking syrup, we topped them off with a selection of powdered sugar, honey, and/or peanut butter.
After lunch, Charlene dragged Brian and my bloated asses out of the house to meet up with a Brother from a nearby church. The Brother had asked if we would attend some school celebration with him, and against our urges to immediately take an afternoon nap, we went. We appeared to be right on-time because as we walked in the MC announced that the celebration had officially begun as the guests of honor had arrived. I looked around to see who the guests of honor were, both curious and a bit embarrassed that we were entering a room of tuxedo and dress clad teens and probably even more elaborately dressed guests of honor while we had on only our t-shirts and jeans. To both my horror and amusement, I saw every head in the house turn toward us as cameras’ flash bulbs began to pop. For a few seconds I felt bad for the real guest of honor as clearly these misinformed kids had thought that the only white people in the room must surely be the guests of honor. Unfortunately, I was the misinformed one. Apparently the Brother, along with his three American friends were, in fact, said guests of honor to these students’ prom. After taking our seats on stage, we introduced ourselves over the microphone to the student body, where much to the chagrin of mine and Brian’s bellies, we were served lunch and cake, which, knowing our manners better then to refuse a Ugandan’s offer of food, we accepted and ate. Feeling even more stuffed than before and still largely uncomfortable, we began hatch out our exit strategy. Before we could put our plan into motion, however, the MC announced that the ceremony part of the celebration was over and that the dance would officially begin with the guests of honor taking the stage first to “show everyone how they dance in America”. Dancing on stage in front of hundreds of people I don’t know could probably best be described under the heading: My Worst Nightmare, but I did it anyway, and at the very least lived to laugh about it.
After the dance, we got the hell out there and headed back to Charlene’s. We had only a couple hours before we had to head into town to watch the then highly anticipated US Soccer match vs. Ghana. Before we went, however, we were obligated to eat the peanut butter cake with chocolate icing that Charlene had made for my birthday. Apparently they had caught on to my affinity for chocolate and peanut butter. We had all thought that we were completely stuffed, but our three-man destruction of that cake implied otherwise.
We then headed into town for dinner (I was contractually obligated to continue the gluttony) and the match. We ate rolex’s (basically like egg burritos), drank a few beers, and when Landon Donovan equalized we absolutely lost our minds with euphoria. I was having one of the best birthdays I can remember. Our ultimate loss to Ghana, on the other hand, was a bit hard to swallow. I tried to joke that at least my first son’s name was still up in the air as Landon Danger Szaronos would not be made obligatory by a US World Cup title (Danger, however, is definitely still on the table). By the time the final seconds ticked off from the match in extra time my euphoric mood had completely disipated. An almost perfect birthday. I looked down at my watch to discover that it was 12:03, June 27th. Maybe my birthday had ended on a high note.