40th Birthday is part of the Iraq Homecoming Trip Report.
I have symbolically landed somewhere interesting on my birthday so I could write a story that begins with, “On my X birthday I landed in…, an experience that would forever change my life.” I used this strategy when I landed in Shanghai in 2010 to launch my international career. Specifically, I wrote, “I booked a one-way flight to China that would arrive on my birthday, May 19. This was done strategically to provide content for my future memoirs. By doing so, I would be able to recount, ‘I arrived in Shanghai on my twenty-eighth birthday…five years later I became the export king of widgets throughout the world.'”( a full account of what happened can be found in my book Everyone’s Advice Is Wrong . . . Including Mine). I arrived again in Shanghai on my birthday in May 2018 as part of the Tahiti Trip Report. I had a visa issue then (Visa Blunder Part 3: China Visa-Free Transit Disaster (again) ) and ended up having to go to Hong Kong for a same-day visa run (see Visa Blunder Part 5: An Unexpected Birthday in Hong Kong).
For my 40th birthday, I elevated the theme to a different level. I decided to go to my parents’ home country, Iraq, for the first time (see Iraqi Homecoming Trip Report: An Introduction). I wanted to see what life would have been like had my parents not moved to the US.
The official celebration happened in a mall restaurant, just like I would have done at home.