in which I celebrate turning 24 with close friends also celebrating birthdays and spend a fabulous weekend in Berkeley, serving as a firm confirmation that my feelings towards the city have not changed a bit in the six years since my first visit.
Last weekend was pretty wonderful, as far as weekends go, and it began quite literally the second I walked out of class on Friday and hitched a ride with my dear friend Pasha to Berkeley. The plan for the weekend was simple: since three of my close college friends who live in the area all had birthdays within 2.5 weeks, we decided to celebrate together, and we chose Stephen’s apartment as the best location. So, an hour later, and I found myself, cakes in hand, knocking at the door of Stephen, our host extraordinaire and fellow Harvard ’09-er and birthday celebrator. My first task was preparing the cakes, which involved a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up some decorating ingredients. I returned and turned to the task at hand.
If I do say so myself, my green tea-chocolate cake and pumpkin spice cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting turned out lovely! The cupcakes were a special surprise.
Caitie and Steve were busy with their own cooking projects, but with my task done and theirs essentially so, I headed out to grab dinner with an old friend, before heading back for the final party preparations. The guests started arriving ahead of our main alcohol, but things got started when Caroline showed up, speakers and excitement in hand. She, too, went straight to work.
Our guests continued to trickle in, and the evening was quite enjoyable. I met a lot of Stephen’s cohort–lots of plant biologists–and caught up with a bunch of old friends from Harvard days. And the time came for the important part. The cake. And the birthday children:
AAnd with the candles! Happy birthday to us!
The evening was lovely, and by the time I collapsed, just after 4 am, I was completely satisfied. The next morning, I headed out to meet Mike, the physicist-boyfriend of my friend Lois, who had agreed to go to a fantastic series of plays, “The Great Game,” commissioned by a theater in London. The plays–now on tour and finished with their run at the Berkeley Rep Theatre–were an interesting, complicated look at Afghanistan’s history since the British invasion so long ago. The first series included the “Great Game” era of British and Russian competition for influence in the area. Mike and I grabbed lunch afterwards as we waited Lois to return from her playwriting course in San Francisco. Lois then accompanied me to the the second and third series, as well as a dinner between. The middle series was a bit weak, but the plays in combination offered a challenging look at Afghanistan, leaving its viewers to make their own conclusions. After the end of the plays, I crashed with Lois at her vegetarian co-op, and I was very well hosted by her and her housemates, who hosted me for most of the next day. By the time I left Berkeley that evening, I was none too happy to be trading my beloved Berkeley for Palo Alto. And so it goes.
But that was only the beginning of a baking extravaganza. My actual birthday, nestled in the middle of a busy week, saw a lemonade cake. And the day after, I experimented with a pumpkin-carrot cake recipe, which was decorated with chopped walnuts on the side and a fantastic fresh ginger and spice cream cheese frosting of my own devising. I can’t say I thought the end result was too shabby… Particularly next to the beautiful flowers that I got from my dear friend Rachel. I highly approve of flowers as a gift. Particularly in the orange and yellow spectrum.