I’ve had 43 and 1/2 birthdays. Today is the strangest birthday , full of emotion , sensory delights & a winter swim.
I thought it might be a good idea to go away with my daughter for our birthday , somewhat inconveniently for both of us , she burst into my world on my 30th birthday , some 14 years ago.
So , I booked to bring us to Benidorm , the great bustling town just north of the Spanish city of Alicante. It has a reputation for being a rather British Chavvy place to come , but this does it an injustice. It has a huge expanse of sandy beach with crystal blue seas , it’s high rise scenery is oddly comforting and the town itself is packed full of Spanish and English tourists alike. It is sensory chaos.
So , we wake up this morning after a late night descent into Alicante airport. The rather unsettling ride down Spanish motorways in the dark never ceases to terrify me , the room we were allocated is in dire need of many many things , but ultimately , the bed is divine so I don’t care about the astonishing lack of plugs , the peeling bath which blocks the plug hole & the view onto someone else’s window ..
We go for breakfast , which like the room has its merits but could do with an injection of love and hot eggs.
Then my daughter says she doesn’t want to go and explore , she doesn’t feel that well and wants to lay in our tired vistaless room and stare mindlessly at her computer like she has done for the previous 2 years of her short time on this earth. Fair enough , I think and take the opportunity to go off and explore alone. Quite a treat if I’m frank.
Now , what I didn’t expect was regular washes of nostalgia , the Spanish smells , churros , coffee , street foods , bringing back many memories of a different life time , once lived. I treat myself to new clothes , listen to Spanish beach choir & delight in the Spanish children , who are always dressed in the most exquisite clothes .
My daughter does not want to come for lunch either. At this point I start to become quite tearful. I’m already missing my husband , I’m feeling bad that she isn’t enjoying her birthday , I’m disappointed that it isn’t the birthday I wanted . I ask her why we bothered to come when she says that she can’t understand why I want to go out all the time!
So I end up going back out again, I’m desperate to taste a tapas again and soak up the atmosphere that this town is bursting with. I head for the well – known tapas alley , away from British stains , which pepper spanish resorts. But when I find a place to sit in the bustling alley , I find myself unable to hold back vicious tears of sadness. Overwhelmed by loneliness when all around me are together I have to shoo the waiter away , as I am unable to speak!
Eventually I regain my composure, determined to enjoy my time here. I order my desired “ensalada rusa” and ” vino tinto ” . I know I have been noticed but I don’t care.
When I leave the waiter tells me that the men on the other table have paid for my drinks and I cry again . And thank them. Part of me wants to tell them it’s my birthday but i refrain and head down to the beach and enjoy a bracing swim In the November Atlantic . I buy more things for myself and a lovely scarf for my friend. As I write I have had a bath and given my daughter some medicine and am optimistic that she might Join me for a drink tonight! There are some Fiestas on in Benidorm and I would love to absorb some of that Spanish energy that alights their cities at Fiesta time.
So the birthday isn’t complete . But it’s definitely been different .