A birthday cake, candles, and decorations in Seoul, South Korea.

A cute, mini, puppy pastry in Seoul, South Korea.
Birthdays aren’t too big of a deal to me, but I do like to surround myself with good friends, lots of food, and even more wine to celebrate. That's what the plan was for my 29th birthday. Hit up the wine happy hour and dinner buffet at COEX InterContinental Hotel in Seoul, South Korea, with a few friends.

Even though the list of attendees and festivities were quite small this year, my birthday gathering was sure to be a good time. However, things didn’t go exactly as planned. Instead of wine and Champagne at the InterContinental, I drank water out of a paper cup from a dispenser. Instead of endless amounts of food, I spent much of the evening hungry. And I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Accidents happen. And when they happen, it seems perspectives are refreshed. I was reminded of a lot this evening. Most importantly, I was reminded of how valuable friends are, as well as how quickly everything can change.

Janna, one the most wonderful people I’ve met in Korea, surprised me for my birthday. When Howl and I arrived at her place in Seoul, she had displayed a little cake on her table with candles, alongide other cute snacks and a gift. It was such a delightful welcome. We sat and chatted while devouring the deliciousness she so thoughtfully prepared.

On the way to the hospital with a missing tooth in Seoul, South Korea.
PHOTO BY JANNA. With Janna in a taxi on the way to the hospital.
As is usually the case, we talked for too long and had to rush to get ready. But, just as we were about to leave for the evening, something quite unexpected occurred. Janna slipped on her wet bathroom floor, fell, and hit her face on the concrete kitchen tile. Half of her front tooth was lying on the floor when we found her a few moments after.

We immediately canceled our plans, and rushed her to Seoul National University’s Hospital Dental Emergency Room. 

Makgeolli cheers in Itaewon, Seoul, South Korea.
Makgeolli cheers in Itaewon, Seoul, South Korea. May, 2013.
Throughout the entire ordeal, Janna was worried she had ruined by birthday. I assured her she hadn’t ruined anything. It just made it better. We were able to share an experience we’ll never forget, one that just happened to be on my birthday. I’m the one who should be thanking her for being willing to celebrate. Even after getting her tooth temporarily reattached following a nearly three-hour, somewhat traumatic experience in the dental emergency room.

Gabby, another one of my closest friends in Korea, joined us for the rest of the evening. We went out for Middle Eastern cuisine and drinks in Itaewon, and then ended the night at a makgeolli bar where we drank just the right amount of rice wine mixed with honey to get us tipsy and laughing about everything that had happened.

I’m so thankful for refreshed perspectives, for friends in Korea, and for 29 amazing years of life. I’ll never forget the time my friend, Janna, slipped on her bathroom floor and knocked out most of her front tooth in Korea. What an unforgettable birthday!


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