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Sunday, July 10, 2011

8th Annual "Birthday Extravaganza"

S and I have been celebrating our birthdays together since 2004, when we threw a three-day 21st birthday bash that broke records in alcohol consumption and sleep deprivation. When I was apartment hunting between my sophomore and junior years in college, I sent out probably 12 Craigslist inquiries. The only person who responded was S, whom I had met several times because she was involved in the student-theatre group I worked with.

I guess you could say Craigslist brought us together.

We've celebrated together every June 21-23 since.

This year, however, with my work schedule and her moving mid-June, we couldn't be together on our birthdays proper.

I had the idea that, since we were both so busy and couldn't venture either North or South, to be together, that we should figure out the geographical midway point.

Turns out, it's basically Hartford, CT.

So, we agreed to meet there for the day. We'd have a boozy lunch, spend some time in a park, and see some sights, then head back to our respective homes.

I woke up around 7:30 to make some breakfast and head to South Station for my 9:30 bus ride. Peter Pan to Hartford on a random Saturday in July is totally the way to travel. There were probably 15 people on my bus, both ways, and everything ran exactly on time to the minute.

I got there a few minutes before S and went searching for a restroom in Union Station. I followed a long line of men to a corner and figured the women's room was somewhere else, so I entered the lobby:

Empty. No benches.

I was confused but headed back to the bus terminal and finally found the bathroom.

When S got off her bus, I showed her how odd the lobby was and then we stood on a corner to figure out our destination for lunch.

Agave Grill ended up being a pretty OK spot. Tasty if too-sweet drinks, OK salad, and actually really good nachos.

Full of drink and food, we headed toward Bushnell Park, where we sat here for about 2 1/2 hours:

That's the State Capitol, fyi.

It was perfect weather for sitting under a tree and we chatted and laughed off our drunkenness until it was time to try to track down some more food before our buses departed.

The walk was eerie. We couldn't figure out why the park wasn't packed. It was a gorgeous day, the grass was bright green and soft, there was a playground and pretty statues and historical buildings to look at:

It was like something from I Am Legend, and it just kept getting weirder.

As we walked further into downtown, we were confronted by groups of people in strange costumes and wigs. They were mixed with lots of crazy, street people, who called out to us as we wandered, hoping to find another spot to have a drink or some food.

Nothing was open.


This is the food court in State House Square:

The only place open in the food court was Szechuan Express, randomly.

We turned a corner and found a crappy restaurant where S had a beer and I had a homemade rootbeer but we refused to order anything on the sticky menu.

Finally, we happened upon a small market where we got some snacks and parted once again at the bus station.

When I got back to Boston, I was unnerved by how many stands at the food court were open in South Station.

It was probably the strangest place we've ever been together, and that list includes a place called Hunk-o-Mania AND the Las Vegas Strip in June.

Also, this is what they eat in Worcester, one of my stops on the way home:

America is weird.

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