September six marks one of the most important days of the year for me, and not because it’s my birthday. 

It’s because it’s my granddad’s  – my Opa – birthday as well. Sharing my special day with him is something I hold extremely dear to my heart. 

Up until this year, we’ve only ever had one birthday apart. For his 70th Opa busted off to Holland to celebrate with his siblings, bringing me back some badass rainbow beads for my bike wheel spokes. So 22 years of shared candles and cakes is pretty bloody special. And to make this year even more of a double whammy: once every six years our birthday falls on Father’s Day. It’s always been one of the greatest realisations when I work out that a certain year shall fall on FD. And this year was scheduled to share the day. 

Originally when it was just India on the cards, I’d timed the dates so as to arrive back in time for the best day of the year. But then Base Camp was born in my brain, and the idea of a monumental marking of my birthday on the mountain enticed me. 

There’s also another aspect that I truly feel despicable admitting to but honesty is key on PopYarns. Opa is 87 today, and while he’s fit as a fiddle, he is getting on. I pray he’ll be around for many more moons, but the fact of the matter is the circle of life (cheers Mufasa). I know I’d be absolutely devastated should my first separate from him since I was seven be a result of no choice at all.

So here I was, on my own for my 24th. But then, I wasn’t alone, not at all; I spent the day with the greatest group of people. 

I woke up feeling happy, something I didn’t all expect. I’d been anticipating woe, a dither of despair, perhaps a dash of desloation. But I was full of serenity for the sixth. I read the birthday card Deb had snuck into my bag on departure and sent a little telepathic message to a few of my loved ones. 

I was halfway through an hour of yoga when there came a knock at my door. My soulmate Sarah! She’d made me a little birthday card out of a piece of paper from her notebook. I was so touched, especially at the moving message inside. 

About 8am we set off for our teeny trek. Being an acclimitaisation day, we were only going on a “short” stint of four hours. 

First off we went up the the National Park Museum. At this point is the second opportunity to view Everest (first being midway up the bastard hill yesterday; unfortunately the weather meant it was not visible). How fantastic would it be to descry the infamous mountain on the anniversary of my birth! But alas, the cloud rendered Everest immersed in mist. No matter; always tomorrow. And the day after. And after that. 
On the hill there was a little monument that really moved me. A statue putting two rocks in pride of place boasted a little sign saying: 
I felt a massive swarm of faith in humanity, something that has been dwindling bit by bit since I’ve been away. It was a flicker of hope. 

I was wandering reading the placards when Josh announced there was a sensationally strong data signal. I was overjoyed! The birthday fairies had well and truly blessed me. I switched on my data and was bombarded with more than 50 messages and emails; I replied to mum, fired a HB to Opa and a HFD to Hank. 

It’s funny, being back in Facebook land didn’t bring me bliss. In fact it was frustrating; my phone kept pinging and messages kept appearing as I roamed the rows of the museum. I had been pondering the idea of switching off, but decided then and there that aside from the odd blog post upload and email to the parentals, I ’twas going to take myself out of circulation until the 16th September (unless data extends to Base Camp, which apparently it does. I feel a cheeky insta would be justified in such a respect).

We carried on our way and I felt like Heidi skipping along the hilltops (one of the best books ever). And I met my first Kiwi since embarking on my Solo Sojourn! I was stoked. I should’ve guessed yesterday; I saw Clare sitting on a stair stoop having a beer and a ciggy, in shorts and a tee while the rest of the Trekkers roamed in their thermals and down jackets. If that doesn’t scream Kiwi from Southland, what on earth does? 

We reached the peak of the day’s potterings after an exhaustive incline. At 3850m, we were truly immersed in altitude. “The highest I’ve ever been in my life!” I proclaimed. Then Daniel snidely pointed out that yes, apart from every single time I’ve ever been in a plane. Well that bought me back down to earth. 

After lunch in the Khumjung Village where we wandered through Hilary School, we returned back to the hotel. We were all absolutely spent. We relaxed at the tea house (and of course drunk tea after tea after tea), and I wrote and read and was at absolute peace. 

I’m currently trying my very best to not  nod off; I am shattered. But Ram has told us to avoid napping during the day, so I’m holding out. 5pm bedtime? A wild night to celebrate the turning of age. 

I ended up trekking back up the hill to connect to talk to my mum, but unfortunately the generator must’ve been turned off and it wouldn’t connect. Rather than be saddened and disappointed however, I took it in my stride; what’s meant I be is meant to be. Maybe tomorrow, maybe not. Well see! 

I came across the Canadian girl Marissa whom we met on the very first day, so I invited her to come hang and have dinner with us. We spent a fun-filled few hours playing Uno, lots of laughs and jokes flitting back and forth.

When we sat down for dinner, the lights suddenly dimmed (solar power outage or purposeful?) and along came Sanjay with a Tegan’s Tibetan bread alight with birthday candles (they couldn’t plant them in my vege soup). The 25 people in the room – my group, other groups, the Sherpas and the guides – all burst out in Happy Birthday. Beautiful Sarah had organised it all hush hush without me even noticing (usually I’m so onto d-low attempts). It was so meaningful and I was so touched. 

After Sarah and I sat on the couch to have a masala chai together before bed, and she pulled out a packet. “I got you a present,” she said, gifting me with a pack of dried coconut. If bought a bag at the airport on wait-day, and when she’d been searching for an appropriate edible item that I’d eat to put the candles in she’s seen it. She’s honestly like the most caring big sister that I never had. 

Today was special. There was a touch of sadness, but it was fleeting and sweetly so. I was surrounded by people I’m seriously growing to consider very close friends, and I’ve had so many laughs and such fun. I have had one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had; if only Opa was here to be in presence for presents. 

A very very special September the sixth I’ll never forget. 

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