Last Birthday

I tried to go to bed at 8 pm on my 21st birthday. I’ve never been a party girl, but that was a stretch, even for me. On my 20th birthday I stayed up til almost three. When I turned 17 I had what was possibly the least surprising surprise party ever.  I’ve had a lot of weird birthdays, and a lot of really really great ones.

I turn 22 the day after tomorrow. I love birthdays, because I love any excuse to celebrate moments and acknowledge milestones and passing time.  Sometimes getting from year to year is an accomplishment in itself.

My 21st birthday was spent mostly alone in my dorm room. I was in the middle of a strange period, upset a lot of the time, and feeling fairly isolated. Winter has always been rough for me. I was still at Hiram then, and most of my friends were theatre kids who had a performance that day. I didn’t know when they would be done, so I texted my friend Noah that I was just going to go to sleep.

“NO.” was the response I got back about 30 seconds later. “YOU AREN’T ALLOWED TO DO THAT.” Came right after that one. 

I sighed. I wasn’t in the mood for a pity party after the show. I didn’t want to wait up. I was tired, and I wanted to go to bed.

But the texts kept coming. All caps messages yelling at me that I was NOT ALLOWED TO GO TO SLEEP, and that I was BEING RIDICULOUS, which was true, but not what I wanted to hear.

Eventually Noah convinced me to go over to the Co-Op, where I sat in the dining room, being angry at the world and at the boys who wouldn’t let me go to bed.

Apparently Noah and Steven had been baking me a cake, and didn’t want me to go to bed before they had finished it.  I was, as usual, too grumpy and caught up in my own head to even entertain the possibility that my friends might be planning something. But they were, and they did, and it was really sweet and I cried a little bit, because I am the kind of person who cries at any moderate emotion.

Later more friends showed up with another cake, and we talked and laughed and it felt really nice to be surrounded by people who cared and made me smile- even when I was grumpy and in no mood to be smiling.

We ended up in a Walmart in the middle of nowhere at midnight, trying to buy alcohol from a cashier who refused to card me even when I asked him to. We watched cartoons and drank bad booze and laughed and it felt nice and comfortable.

And I think, mostly, that’s what I want in life. Times that feel good and comfortable. I don’t need  or want wild and crazy. I want safe and snuggled in- friends and good movies and times that feel like I could live in them forever and never get sick of it.

I don’t know how this year’s birthday is going to go. I know I’ll get to see my family, and spending time with them makes me happy. I do know, though, that if this birthday is anything like last birthday I’ll be more than ok. 

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