A short while ago, I remember sharing with Flo that my 21st, while memorable, carries with it a bitter tinge. I had a lovely birthday at Peony Jade where I followed through with an oriental theme. I was surrounded by friends and family. I was surprised at midnight by my friends coming over to wish me a happy birthday. I’ve never told anyone but when they rang my doorbell, I was bingeing away at cheesecake. Alone, in my room. At the time, I was severely underweight and all I wanted was to binge and purge my last night away before I was admitted into hospital the next day for anorexia. While I had a smile plastered to my face, I felt angry that while my friends celebrated my birthday, the calories were being digested instead of thrown up.
I always thought that my 30th birthday would be like the 21st I didn’t allow myself to have. Last year, I had a quiet celebration with just family. I was a touch disappointed that Flo didn’t arrange more because my fickle-mindedness at what I wanted to do, where I wanted to eat, annoyed him and we settled on the first place I said we’d go – Din Tai Fung, which has the best xiao long baos but wasn’t particularly special.
So quickly a year has passed. Scarily quick! And on my birthday eve, Flo took me to Jaan where the view was stunning and the food spectacular. I ate far more than I did on my 21st, felt far more uncomfortable with the food in my belly than I have in the longest time, but revelled in the joy within me stemming from being with the man I love, and not having the slightest urge to purge anything up. I guess I have come a long way.
My birthday morning kicked off with a thoughtful present from Flo – awesome spray painting equipment perfect for my cakes! I always thought they were cool but never considered seriously buying a set for myself because y’know, k-ching$$. Flo went the extra mile and made sure I had edible ink colours and cleaning brushes to boot. He added stencils which I only received a few days after for our anniversary. Talk about the whole package!
My birthday itself being on a Friday wasn’t the most eventful what with work and all. In the evening though, we went to Winestone for dinner with Mum and Dad. Having a birthday dinner with my family has become a thing of tradition and meaning to me. I was so touched to know that Flo realised this and so, made sure it happened.
Aside from thoughtful birthday wishes from friends and family, Naima also gifted me a bunch of pretty gerberas through Flo. I can’t believe we’ll be family soon!!!
Dinner of choice was Winestone which I picked. The food was really good but service was a little lacklustre when the restaurant started to get more busy. Flo and I both had the Cataplana, a kind of seafood stew that was totally up my alley. They ought to serve it with some nice, crusty bread to mop up the gravy. To be fair, they did serve bread but more as a filler and a server tried to clear it mid-way through our meal which to me was a big no-no.
After dinner, we came back to ours to dig into the cake from Jaan. It was a chocolate mousse cake with a caramel layer – very decadent and for a 3″ cake, it was more than enough for us all to have a taste and for Mum and Dad to pack home for some guests as well.
I told Flo while we were getting ready for bed that this birthday was the most special to me so far. More so because I can see that my parents are really happy and no longer carrying that stress of when I was sick. Naturally, they still worry about me but it was nice to all be able to enjoy our meal and each other’s company without any shadows lurking.
On Saturday, I was crazy busy with work but Flo told me that we had to go somewhere at 4.30pm. It was a little early for dinner and while I had an inkling that he had something up his sleeve, I was in for my biggest surprise yet!
We reached Changi Village at about 5pm and turning round a bend, I saw Alex, Amanda, Pearl and YJ. Minute later, Pascal appeared. I was trying to contain myself and wondered what we were going to be doing. As we chattered away, Angie and Fel joined us. I was only expecting Les, who was running late, so it was a happy reunion with them. Minutes passed and as we walked towards another area, Les arrived and with her was Zen. I figured Abby was busy and couldn’t make it but seconds later, she came running over.
My heart was bursting by then to see all my friends turning up just for me! It’s been a long long while since we all managed to make it together and here we were, the full group of us! We all headed down to the jetty where I excitedly exclaimed that we must be off the Pulau Ubin since I’d never been before. No one bothered to answer me so after about a 10min boat ride, we docked at this place:
It wasn’t Pulau Ubin although it was about a 50m(-ish) swim away. It was Smith Marine Floating Restaurant aka a Kelong that has its own little fish farm and serves seafood. What’s more, I got to catch the fish we were to devour!
Uncle helped and of course, a fishing area cordoned off that was brimming with fish certainly helped too.
Sea bass, Snapper or Pomfret where the possible catch of the day. It took less than a minute to reel one in and while I was really hoping for a Pom, I caught a sea bass that uncle said was a good 700-800g. I chose to have it steamed Teochew style since fresh fish should always be steamed and I’m a Teochew girl so easy choice for me.
We wandered along the deck a while before dinner was to be served. It was a gorgeous breezy evening and the sun was going down so it was lovely and cool
Initially, Flo was worried that the food might not be enough to feed the 12 of us but after a few dishes were laid on the table, he realised that they were unfounded. It was food galore!
Just after basking in the last of the sun’s warmth, we went back into the restaurant to blow out another candle and cut into another cake! My dear Les bought me a Passionfruit Meringue Cake from The Patissier, which ironically, was where I ordered my 21st birthday Strawberry Shortcake from.
I cannot tell you how perfect the prelude, middle, and finale of my birthday celebrations were. After cake cutting, I was spoiled with gifts as well. I cannot begin to explain how full my heart was that evening, and it still is as I type this all out.
I really cannot believe that I’m already 31. It sounds so… old but inside, I still feel so much younger. And I hope I look much younger than that too. I wonder what the next year will bring to both Flo and I, and I’m excited to see how life will be when I turn 32.
Right now, it feels as though life is perfect. I have a man I love, who loves me so very much, who looks after me with a velvet glove and makes me feel whole. I have family who support me through thick and thin – parents whom I cherish greatly, grandparents who adore me, and a brother who means the world to me. I have friends who are more than just that – friends who are family to me, who make my heart smile and make my world so much more colourful.
If I could hit the pause button any time in my life, it would be right now. However, life goes on, and I know that I still have things that I wish for. Things that I don’t need to have currently, but in the near future hopefully. And I pray that when it’s time, it will happen.
“Who, being loved, is poor?”
– Oscar Wilde.