In the weeks and days leading up to my birthday, I had multiple discussions with friends and family about how I didn’t quite feel anything about turning twenty-two — besides the fact that I could sing one of my favorite songs from Taylor Swift’s Red album with an element of veracity (minus the fact that I don’t dress like a hipster). Oh, and not feel that air of judgment — imagined or not — when people hear my age. That whole twenty-one stigma is real.
What I was supposed to feel, I’m not quite sure. Like New Year’s Eve, birthdays are those kinds of things that cause – force? — you to reflect on who you’ve become in the last year, where you are in life, and where you aren’t. I can certainly say that this time last year I had no idea I would be living in Brooklyn let alone doing grad school (a revelation that didn’t come to me until the end of 2013). One year (and a few days) ago I was working two jobs, gleefully writing papers on Alfred Hitchcock movies (yikes, my inner nerd is showing), and milking undergrad life for all that it was worth.
I was also buying groceries at a much cheaper price, at a grocery store whose checkout lines didn’t resemble one of Dante’s circles from hell, didn’t need workers holding picket signs to tell you — as soon as you walked in — that the line began, coincidentally, there, where you walked in, and didn’t make you decide that perhaps you should just turn around and not eat dinner that night, or ever again.
(You, the reader, are probably confused by the above sentence. What’s more, it would probably get torn apart in my writing workshop. But the conveyance of the terror that is shopping at the Union Square Trader Joe’s does not allow pretty sentences. If you don’t believe me, there’s a Buzzfeed article about this very thing.)
Oh, Harris Teeter. The comforting Davis Library to my confusing New School library. The $1.00 Rice-A-Roni to my $1.70 Rice-A-Ron. The fresh air to my cramped city air. How I miss shopping your shelves like it was my job, getting to know your employees, and knowing where everything was. How I miss your wide open spaces; your nooks of reasonably priced vegetables and crannies of even more so reasonably priced spirits. With you, I could meander at my leisure to the sounds of Hall and Oates, all the while not having to worry about being run over by an aggressive shopper whose aggression is completely understandable because affordable grocery stores in NYC are hard to come by.
Before I let this go to a dark place — whoops, too late? — I will address what this post was originally supposed to address, and bring up the birthdays I’ve celebrated in the last couple of years. Friends at school who may have experienced them with me may look back with me in fondness, and I will even permit you a chuckle or two (see: blow job shot incident).
A week or so before I turned nineteen, my dad discovered that my insurance would not cover a wisdom teeth removal surgery once I’d kissed eighteen goodbye. So before my carriage turned into a pumpkin (i.e. risked my wisdom teeth coming in painfully years later), I tried on a bunch of glass slippers (i.e. my dad called a bunch of dentists in the Chapel Hill area that accepted our insurance) until finally one fit. The day before I turned nineteen — aka the first day of fall break, when pretty much everyone gets to go home or do volunteer work — I had not four but five wisdom teeth removed. I can’t really think of a Cinderella metaphor for that last part, besides comparing it to the real Cinderella story in which the stepsisters’ feet are chopped off to make the shoes fit, but again, this doesn’t need to go to a dark place.
Anyway, I don’t remember much besides drugs, pain, and more drugs, watching Captain America, hating it because I was nauseous from the drugs, and being wheeled out of the dentist’s office and into my roommate’s car by a coddling nurse. My roommate then took me to Walmart (a trip of which I can only recall two scenes: groping around at a foggy glass door that separated me from rows upon rows of Yoplait yogurt; a spinning vision of the floor when, still very high, I dropped all of my coins in a flustered attempt to pay the cashier. I can imagine that is what taking LSD feels like.).
Finally, my roommate brought me back to our dorm and left for her own mini-vacation. A suite mate temporarily pretended to be me — I was too incapacitated — and got me my pain meds from Walgreens (all these Wal places!). To this day, I’m still worried about how easy of a time she had, but I am still forever grateful.
My twentieth birthday was the best possible non-twenty-first, non-wisdom-teeth-removal birthday I could have ever asked for, which I hadn’t been so sure I would have when I realized I’d be spending it abroad. Having a birthday early on in the semester in a new place can be a little daunting, at least for people who worry about making friends (i.e. me) but I had not one, not two but THREE birthday celebrations. Actually, four, the last one casually taking place at the Eiffel Tower, where my dear friends gave me a cupcake on our last night in Paris.
Twenty-one was amazing, naturally. Great friends, great fun. Naturally, I embarrassed myself terribly when it came time to take my first legal drink—a blow job shot. I have video of that which, for some reason, I can’t bring myself to delete just yet.
So I guess all of these things were on my mind when the thought of my birthday approached. It was a Monday and I had class and all of that jazz, but like the others, I ended up being reminded that I am fortunate to be surrounded by really nice people. On the morning of my birthday, I arrived to see a yummy treat on my desk. And when it came time for my writing workshop to come to an end about twelve hours later, a few friends from class insisted we go out for drinks. It was just what I needed to take me from feeling old, tired, and slightly grumpy to ecstatic about all of the things my new life has to offer. I’m happy free confused and lonely in the best way, and loving it.
And now that I’ve talked everyone’s ear off (written everyone’s eyes off? That sounds kind of morbid), I shall end with a list of things I hope to accomplish within the next year.
My new twenty-two year resolutions:
1. Submit my shit! (Sorry for the swear, Dad.) Writing out my aggression on the change in 102.9 DRC-FM and seeing it in the Hartford Courant was satisfying, but now I want more!
2. Start flourishing all of my Zs with a little horizontal line going through the middle, because it looks much more sophisticated and less like a 2 this way.
3. Stand on the L-train with no hands the entire way from Montrose to 14th Street (or at least from Bedford to 1st Ave. I was so close today.)
4. Finish Needful Things, which my coworker lent me a few weeks ago.
5. Stop painting my nails right before I go to bed. They always come out horribly, and since I haven’t accomplished number 3 yet, it’s painfully obvious on the subway. If I could, I would explain to those peering at my terrible nail job that I purposely added texture to them, but no one cares, so whatever.
6. Limit my coffee intake to five days a week. Or maybe just limit my Starbucks intake? Ah, but that gold card, man…