Today I'm 29, and I'm in Seattle! There aren't many places better where I can celebrate! And there couldn't be a better friend and her family who could make it special! This morning I was up extra early due to Bree having an orientation at the University of Washington (UDub). She's starting her M.A. in public affairs next week. The three of us all went, and whilst she did her thing, Brian and I hung out at Starbucks. Unlike in previous years they didn't give me a free coffee on my birthday and the manager was somewhat rude about it. I wasn't comfortable being at that Starbucks so we walked up the road to another one. Chances are at any Starbucks in Seattle, there's another within walking distance. With my birthday euphoria I was hooked up with a free coffee but with a catch: I had to buy a Starbucks card with at least $5 on it so I get a Seattle Seahawks card. My birthday and Facebook always go hand in hand as I receive a swarm of birthday wishes, many of them wishing me a lot of adventures for this coming year. Brian sent me a wish as his "travelmate." This morning as we were preparing to go Bree let me borrow her really cool silver Starbucks mug. Up the street I placed the silver mug in a midst of purple tables and decor. Silver and purple are two colours that don't rhyme with any word (the other is orange).
Quintessentially Seattle! This amazing city is seriously up there with many of the elite cities I've visited; up there with London, Istanbul, Havana, Cuzco, and a few others. As we waited for Bree at UDub I talked with Lydia, my film director, and found out two small contributions came in: one from my older sister Sonya and one from her manager. That excites me as much as being in Seattle. The other day I gave Bree and Brian a crash course in travelling; today they'd receive one on Ethiopian cuisine. Seattle's Ethiopian diaspora is huge; large enough that there is even an Amharic newspaper. It also meant we had plenty of choices for Ethiopian fare. On our way to Canada the other day we were given a recommendation for one, so we headed in that direction. Bree explained this area could be thought of as "ghetto" but if it is, I'll say Seattle's ghettoes are nowhere nearly as bad as LA's ghettoes. Wearing my Ethiopian national team jersey proudly I waltzed on into Adey Abeba restaurant with Brian and Bree in tow. I got lamb chops, Brian got beef stew, and Bree got a veggie platter. Although there are some fantastic Ethiopian veggie dishes, finding vegetarian food in Ethiopia was rather tricky. It was Brian and Bree's first time having Ethiopian food.
The owner of the restaurant is from Gondar, and when he brought me a glass of tej I replied "ameuseuganallo" ("thank you" in Amharic). He replied with "where did you learn that?" and I explained when I was in Ethiopia a few months ago. He really enjoyed hearing about my time there, and after a terrific lunch I was ready for more birthday fun. After driving across the bridge over Lake Washington back toward Bree's house, we parked and went for a walk on a horse trail. It was gloomy but I wasn't cold at all, and then it started to drizzle a bit. For dinner we were having a delicious teriyaki feast! In less than a week I've had many cuisines: Thai, Italian, Ethiopian, Irish, and so forth! I opted for BBQ short ribs, and homeward bound we were for some good grub! It was time to celebrate! Bree and Alyssa lit the candles whilst Brian did a video. Bree and family sang "Happy Birthday" in the most unique way possible! Instead of the prototypical "Happy Birthday to You" it was very different. It fits my style: I'm unique. Bree and Alyssa baked me the most delicious German chocolate cake, and I blew out all the candles in one hearty blow.
For 29 years I've lived an amazing and extraordinary life, and I have so many good friends to go with it! Bree and Alyssa are my two newest friends, and Brian become my friend after losing another last year. I have one more year until I'm 30, and I'm thinking of my "dirty 30" as a "clean 30" in Japan. With only two countries to go it shouldn't be difficult to visit "30 by 30" (30 countries by my 30th birthday). In addition to my cake, they gave me a Seattle "coffee-to-go" mug. Tonight I had a major feeling of thankfulness. We are both in Seattle longer than we expected, and if we were at home I would've celebrated my birthday with Nora and friends. My birthday euphoria carried over at the pool table tonight as I defeated Brian four games in a row! In all my travels I haven't been that many places on my birthday: New Zealand on my 24th and now Seattle. A few days after my 26th birthday I was in Idaho. What an amazing Seattle-style birthday I had tonight with some amazing friends. Brian, and Bree and family, thank you so much the delicious cake and making my birthday extra special. I love all of you, plain and simple!