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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

If you know me, you are invited…

I had my first 18 birthdays with my twin sister in Terre Haute, Indiana. Sometimes we had quiet family parties, one or two pool parties at the Holiday Inn, and a Sweet Sixteen in my dad’s loft on Wabash Avenue.

Nineteen, Twenty, and Twenty One were all celebrated at Millikin University. Most included my residents TPing my door and Twenty one included closing three bars in Decatur and watching the Oscars.

Twenty-two was also at Millikin, but that was the first year I had my own apartment and hosted my first “grown up” birthday party. I invited all my friends and my twin sister to come to my apartment and bring a dish. We were in college and had tiny kitchens and small budgets, but each person brought something wonderful to share.

It was a fantastic chance for all my social circles to mix. The Resident Assistants, the friends from Freshman Year, people I’d studied in Argentina with, and new friends from my last semester in college. I still remember how packed my apartment was, people balancing plates on their knees and laughing together. Surprised to see how diverse my social group really was. Even my sister decided to skip her class to come to the party. If I remember right—I made poor man’s lasagna, Cathy made garlic bread, and Dego brought couscous with mango chutney. I may still have his Tupperware from that night.

My golden birthday (23 on the 23rd) was celebrated in my two room apartment in Cooper Hall at Fort Lewis College. Debbie, the Resident Director of West Hall, baked me a Snickers Cake. It was another potluck dinner. Students brought chips and salsa, Brian brought pizza from the cafeteria, and Jenna made Spinach Balls. Later that night I ran around the San Juan Room in Durango, Colorado in a little black dress, kissing boys and taking photos as evidence.

Twenty four was marked in Camp Snyder, the year I was in charge of 130 men, all between the ages of 18 and 18. Lots of girlfriends and lots of folks from campus.

Twenty five was on Florida Avenue. This was my first off-campus apartment and I packed it to the gills with friends and we ate more appetizers than you could shake a fist at. We topped the night off with a rousing game of Cranium. It was also two months before I was slated to pack up and move to Chicago—so it was the first of many goodbyes.

My first birthday in Chicago was Twenty six and I was in Tokyo, Japan. It was a wonderful day—Japanese comedy, a blessed fortune at a temple, green tea ice cream and red bean curd for dessert.

My second birthday in Chicago was Twenty seven and I was terribly jet-lagged, because I’d only returned from London the night before. I boarded an Amtrak train and headed south to Decatur, to spend my first birthday with my sister since we’d turned twenty two. She invited lots of friends and our parents made the drive over. I crapped out early, due to jet-lag, and returned to Chicago the next day.

(For the record, at both Twenty six and Twenty seven my friends Jen and Joe hosted belated parties for me—when I was back in the country and over my jet lag.)

So this year marks my third birthday in Chicago, but the first one IN CHICAGO. This is the year that I am saying goodbye to renting and to my favorite Chicago apartment. I have also decided to return to the tradition I started in the Millikin East Apartments and am inviting you over for a potluck on my birthday.

Don’t worry about dessert, I know a little shop called Sweet Occasions and will bring a fantastic Red Velvet cake and maybe some ice cream. Also, please don’t bring a gift, because I am moving into a smaller place, but feel free to bring an extra bottle of wine or a six pack. (However–I am a sucker for a well mixed CD and I can always make room for more music.) In fact, don’t be surprised if you get a little something on your way out of the apartment—like an E.T. coffee mug, a small rooster from Portugal, or a dining room table.

Just bring yourself, a dish to share, and the recipe. When I moved to Colorado, Cathy gave me a fantastic recipe box which I have barely used. I would like to start year Twenty eight off with some new recipes that I can use in the future to wow friends, families, and rock stars. You will get bonus points if the recipe is also semi-Kosher. (No pork, no shellfish, no meat with dairy.) Twenty eight is also the year when I’ll finish my conversion to Judaism.

My Birthday Party Details!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005 at 7:00PM at my house. Why: Leah J. is turning Twenty Eight! Bring: A dish to share and the recipe for Leah to copy in the future. RSVP by the Vernal Equinox and if you get lost call me.

And if a ton of people don’t come, forget the dish and the recipe. We’ll just go to The Candlestick Diner (at Western and Howard) and eat garlic french fries, play pool, and drink Black & Tans

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