Yesterday was my birthday. The thing about an Epiphany birthday like mine is that it signifies the real end of the holiday season, so as a kid, I was always torn between joy and feelings of melancholy because I couldn’t reasonably expect to have another wrapped package in my hands for eleven and half months. Last year, my nephew was born on Christmas night, and while it seemed like a great score for the family, I instantly felt a connection with the little guy in terms of future birthday disillusionment.
As an adult, what I’ve discovered is that in my head, I get a buffer week on New Year’s Resolutions. While the rest of you were slaving away on the gym treadmill and learning Portuguese, I was still planning my new year and eating Christmas cookies. I don’t count the first week of January as time I should be doing “X”. Instead, I wait until my age changes and then it’s a complete clean slate and time to get down to business.
On the birthday downside this year, I did not turn five, Raggedy Ann was not accompanying me throughout the day, and I did not have a jazzy pink pantsuit to wear. And it will be eleven and half months before I get another proper present.
On the birthday up side, Z and I went to Tulalip Casino Resort the night before, so I awoke in luxurious splendor to a “Happy Birthday” banner, presents and cards, and the promise of an excellent breakfast at Cedars Café in the resort before we drove back to Seattle so Z could teach his first class of the new quarter. Later that night we had dinner with Hudge and I was slightly mortified that the waiters sang Happy Birthday to me. But back to Tulalip.
We aren’t high rollers, and though Z would laugh at me, I would argue we aren’t really casino people. We spend $20 each on penny slots, and after an hour, we get overwhelmed by the smoke, pinging machines, and flashing lights.
I always sheepishly tell people we went to a casino, and I am also uncharitable in the way I present the information, as if we only go because Z likes it and I am only humoring him. I’ve apparently got just enough Puritan or Quaker genes in me to feel a little guilty every time we go. I can’t specifically name the guilt because it’s different every time and ranges from “wasting money” to “wasting time” to “wasting paper cups at the complimentary soda fountain.” But there is also a thrill that comes from it and an engagement of imagination that is good for us. That is, I like the period of time right before we go when anything is possible, and we imagine both how we might win it big on Lucky Lemmings and what we will do with our new wealth. It’s not unlike buying a lottery ticket and imagining all the stuff you’ll buy and the people you’ll help out as soon as the check clears. We’ve taken ourselves and family members on so many trips around the world in our minds, I can’t even count them.
Like most things in life, I’m learning that it is all a matter of perspective (and moderation). I could go to the casino with my lips pursed and an eye on everyone else, imagining all the ways I’m not as desperate as they are with their frequent player cards on lanyards, or I can loosen my grip on that twenty dollar bill and enjoy myself the way Z does. We rarely play serious slots with fruit and numbers, but instead tend towards the one with “bonus features” that involve small woodland creatures. Oh, I wish you could see the glee on Z’s face when he gets a bonus feature. It really is like Christmas morning. That’s the real reason I like to go, and why I often find a machine right next to him, even if he’s playing a boring machine that I don’t really approve of. It’s worth $20 any day.
But I’m getting off track. My point here is that we aren’t high rollers and we’re never going to get a room comped. Lucky Lemmings players are never in the high roller suite to the best of my knowledge. Fortunately for me, in January, the resort offers a “pay the date” deal to fill the otherwise empty hotel, so around my birthday, we can stay for less than we’d pay for a Holiday Inn.
I’m a sucker for a good hotel room—in fact, we’re planning a trip to Vancouver right now, and I’m way more excited about sitting in a hotel room with a view, peering out at the world, than I am in actually taking a trolley tour. Tulalip rooms are so lovely if we never went down to the casino, I’d be fine with that. They are rich with reds and golds and fabrics that kind of envelop you, with shout outs to the Tulalip tribe in native art work. If I could figure out how to steal the suspended bedside lights—blown glass—I’d tuck them into my over-sized hand luggage, though probably we’d have to book next year under a pseudonym.
I have two favorite spots in the room. The first is the sumptuous three-headed shower in a bathroom that demands you take about three showers a day simply because showering never felt so good (or clean). My second favorite spot is the chaise lounge next to the window. It’s the kind of piece of furniture I’d never have in my own house because it isn’t my style and seems so purposeless, but when I have access to it I realize the error of my thinking. It’s the perfect spot to read. And nap.
On this stay, an extra birthday treat rarely granted by the Pacific Northwest in January: a clear day that offers a Mt. Rainier view. Delicious.
So this is my post-birthday post. This is me officially beginning my year of “showing up.” This is me, one year older, not particularly wiser, and $20 poorer than I was before we went to Tulalip. But it was a good time, and I’m hoping for more of the same in the next 365 days.