Remember this. You'll see it again.

This is my birthday present to myself.

I spent the night playing with friends and laughing and pouring the occasional drink or two. We played cards and sent everyone except John (who is staying with us) home. We talked, he and I, until five a.m.—about Kenya, parents, siblings, past dates, love, life, and everything in between.

It is 5:20 on the day of my birthday. A year ago today, right about now, I was with Andy and Jen in New Jersey, preparing to take a train into New York. For my first taste of Manhattan.Through a typo while posting last year's NYC pictures, I marked a set of pictures as being from the Empire State Building when they were, in fact, from the top of World Trade Center 1. I made a comment to a netfriend about a picture of him at the same place; he said, "No, Amy, that's not ESB."

It's difficult to describe the anger I felt when I pulled the ticket stub—one I almost didn't save—from my wallet a few weeks ago and realized that it was gone. A year ago today, I stood on top of the tallest building I'd ever seen and laughed. When we were on the ground, Andy and Jen pointed out a church. They said, "Remember this. You'll see it again."

These were the same friends that suggested I brace myself just a little when we got on the express elevator to go to the top of the building. When we were at the top of the building, we walked around—and looked down. Andy pointed and said, "See that little square with a pointy top down there?" I squinted, saw, and nodded. "That's the church."

I had to be talked into going, because I said to myself, what view could possibly be worth $13.50?

It ended up being the last possible birthday I could have taken that trip.Flickr

I spent part of my last birthday on top of a building that no longer exists. I'll scan in my ticket sometime tomorrow and add it to this entry—but for now, words will have to do.

I made my decision that this year I'd spend my birthday with friends I cared about. Last year I walked around Manhattan, gawked, saw the reality of some things that had only appeared in TV and movies before that, and saw Rent at the end of the day.

It was magical. It was tiring. A year later, it is bittersweet. I remember the joy and the wonder I had at the WTC1 observation deck. I leaned my head against the glass and looked down, down, down. I wrote and mailed my friends postcards from WTC1.

And yet—and yet—it is gone, and I—the fragile human—remain, with memories and pictures and a stamped postcard.

I decided that in the end, friendship was more solid and durable than even concrete, glass, and stone. So, on this October twentieth, my 25th birthday, I will surround myself with the durable, invisible structures of friendship and love.

Here's to surviving yet another trip around the sun.