In the morning while I was getting ready for work, my host mom knocked on my door. I assumed she was going to tell me breakfast was ready, but she came in looking serious, holding a flower in one hand and an open umbrella in the other. She didn't say anything; she just started singing the birthday song. I thought.. That's weird, is the umbrella some sort of tradition I hadn't heard about? Why is it open? Is it not bad luck here? It wasn't a tradition - it was my gift! As it will rain in autumn and autumn will be here soon. Quite practical.
So we walked to work together, and she told me she would come at lunch to help me go to the magazin to buy food for everyone - the birthday girl is in charge of the party here.
The mayor came into our office and told me to come to his office. I thought there might be a meeting or something; I'm often unaware of what's going on. Everyone sat in their normal meeting chairs; about half the building was in there, so I scooted into my spot, and they told me to scoot right back out. The mayor kind of presented the fact that it was my birthday and gave me a bouquet of flowers, and my partner gave me a pair of house slippers (because winter is soon too; we're apparently very practical here). And then, back to work!
Before host mom got here, a couple came in and I'm not sure what they were doing, but I assumed it had something to do with marriage.. perhaps they got their marriage license or something? I don't think they could have literally gotten married just then because it seemed a little too casual for that and they didn't have witnesses or anything (unless you count oblivious me), but it was apparently something to celebrate. Suddenly they were pulling out bottles of champagne, fruit, candy - which I got to have too. I felt kind of bad because they were told it was my birthday and I didn't want them to have to share whatever day this was with a random American! But they seemed fine with it and really I have no idea what day it was for them. I may never know.
Host mom eventually arrived and we went to two magazine to get supplies, all of which she chose and I bought. I mean, sure. It was strange because she got all these things that she knows neither of us like. Sausage, bread, and candy made sense. But then she got a thing of mayonnaise (neither of us eat that) and we went to the second magazin just to get fish (which she knows I can't eat). She also chose a large bottle of beer, which she doesn't like, knowing I had brought champagne already.. So this was a big thing, apparently.
We got back and this shindig lasted in total (with both celebrations accounted for) about 3 hours. We all shared all the food and all had what I thought was too much to drink (AKA I went to the house after that to take a nap). I assumed my host mom would have to go back to work at some point, but she stayed like 2 hours. Her boss, the director of the kindergarten, came and brought me flowers and a huge box of grapes "from Moldova!" Which was difficult to carry back later but very sweet.
But it was a lot of fun! Everyone enjoyed themselves and I didn't understand a whole lot, but it was nice anyway. My favorite part of not understanding things is that when someone tells a funny story or a joke that I don't get, I get to watch everyone else laugh and enjoy it.. And the person who's telling it is happy because people thought it was hilarious, and the people laughing are happy because they agree, and it's fun to watch! I have no clue what's going on so I can just observe everyone else's enjoyment, which is enjoyable for me! Perhaps I didn't explain that the greatest, but maybe it made sense.
Moral of the story is, I had a great day! Friends and family sent me all sorts of sweet messages, and it made me feel like I wasn't just spending my birthday alone in a random village in a random country. Tomorrow I'm meeting friends to celebrate my birthday and another girl's - hers is on Sunday - and I'm super excited for that! I'll get mail, and donuts, and get to speak English to people.. So stoked. I've survived my first birthday in Moldova.