I had a pretty amazing week, mostly because I gave myself a lot of downtime to socially recover. I mean, I think I did, but when I look back on my calendar, I realize that I had a GEM work dinner on Monday, Greek lessons and K-Drama Club on Tuesday, and went to Cap Cap with Ellen, Olga, and Luciana on Wednesday. Honestly, I think the biggest rejuvenator was Thursday, which was one of the BEST days I’ve had at HD yet. All of our participants were present, plus two interpreters, and I used my (failed) argument with my landlord over an electricity bill to be the example for my anger management class. We acted out the scenario according to various ways NOT to handle conflict, and we were cracking up with laughter throughout most of the lesson. It was such a great way to see our individual anger issues with grace and humor while also seeing how counterproductive they are (“How did you feel when she interrupted you?” “Like I wasn’t ever going to help her with her bill, and maybe I was going to kick her out of her apartment too.” “So interrupting…?” “Does NOT work.”)
But the real highlight of the week was my birthday on Saturday!
Ellen and I were going to start the day by getting manicures, but since we hadn’t thought to make an appointment, we wound up getting tea instead, discussing effective activism and the benefits and costs of labeling mental disorders. Real light birthday fare! My serious side was satisfied, which meant it was time to go to the movie theater to see Beauty and the Beast.
Short story: it was SO GOOD. This movie created all of the feelings that Disney inspires at its best. It made me believe that with courage and sacrifice, a world of magical adventures is possible, and that with love, the ugly and the ordinary can be transformed.
Long story: it was SO GOOD. I giggled througout scenes, I gasped in delight at the slight changes (“G-A-S-T…I think there’s another T…I’m just realizing I’m illiterate and have never spelled it out loud before…”), and I watched with tears in my eyes as the story I know so well was played out in front of my eyes exactly as I remembered it…only bigger and bolder and NEW. Disney was cashing in on nostalgia, and I don’t care. They can take all my money.
After the lights came up, I clapped out “It. Was. So. Good.” multiple times at my friends, and yay! I now have friends in Greece who are familiar enough with my obsessiveness that they allowed me to spend most of our mall wanderings elucidating my theory that Gaston is a perfect character for young girls to see…because he is the embodiment of toxic masculinity that initially looks charming and buffoonish but, when its pride is struck, quickly turns violently aggressive. More light birthday fare!
We headed downtown for dinner on a rooftop garden. Several more people joined us, and we got meat platters and salads and wine to pass around, all while sitting beneath the lighted Acropolis. After we ate too much food, the introverts scattered, leaving me and the extroverts to head through Monastiraki to Da Vinci, my favorite ice cream shop in Athens. We ate and talked until late, at which point I headed home to enjoy the USian well-wishes on Facebook.
This was everything I love in a birthday – I forced friends from different parts of my life to hang out together, I had profound and silly conversations, I ate a lot of good things, and I felt…at home. These friends are real friends. I feel comfortable with them, and that oft-repeated refrain this time last year (“No one really knows me – I have to hide the silliest parts of myself!”) is now officially retired.
That said: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST WAS SO GOOD. Go watch it!