I have had a few memorable birthday moments.
Anything before my teenage years is mostly a blur. I remember my 5th birthday because there is an old VHS of me wearing my burgundy flowered shift and an awful mullet-ish haircut. My dad dressed up like a clown, a creepy clown from 1990. My friend Hannah was terrified of him. I knew he was just my goofy dad so it didn’t bother me.
My mom made an organic carib cake and gave the girls potted flowers for a party favor. The boys got hot wheels.
Everyone I knew that was between the ages of 3 and 9 was at that party. We played pin the tale on the donkey and had balloon relays.
My 16th birthday my boyfriend got me a hamster. Yes, that is what I asked for. That night I had a girl’s sleepover with my best friends. This meant prank time. We were all nervous to fall asleep because we couldn’t handle the cruel and hilarious things we would do to each other. My friend Leah fell asleep first and ended up with inappropriate things written in pink cake frosting across her face. She wasn’t happy when she woke up with a rash.
The year I turned 18, I was in Romania. I danced with gypsies in the tower of a restaurant that was the birthplace of the evil ruler from whom the legend of Dracula was formed. This was before vampires were cool.
On my 23rd birthday, I jumped off a white limestone cliff into the depths of Lake Whitney.
My 24th birthday I woke up in Texas after a few months in New Hampshire being in a whirlwind dysfunctional relationship I knew deep down wasn’t going to last. I was staying at a friends who picked me up from the airport the night before, and saw a book about Mother Theresa on my bedside table. Something in me shifted, and said “That’s what I’ll do. I’ll go to India.” Suddenly, I was free.
A few months later I met the (real) man of my dreams. A year later I came home from two and a half months in India, a different person. I spent that birthday on a rooftop overlooking the city at night, eating delicious gourmet Tex-Mex after living on rice and dall.
My 26th birthday, I outran a tornado. I was at the movies and the power went off. I went outside to see black swirling clouds. I was with my boyfriend and his parents and we quickly raced back to the house, seeing the destruction from the Tornado on the way.
A week later, I left the ministry I was working at. For the first time since 2004, I wasn’t under some sort of umbrella of a ministry.
And so I spent the year writing. I found myself, a writer. In nine months a book was formed. This is what I’ve wanted ever since before I was that 5-year-old running around popping balloons eating carib cake.
I tend to favor even-numbered years, but I have to say they are all pretty amazing.
Last night I was driving home from work after a long rather frustrating day. I was emotional and on edge. I’d been looking for a dog for months and nothing was working out.
I walked in the door to my apartment right as the clock turned midnight and it was my birthday.
My boyfriend and roommate were standing there. So was a perfect Boston Terrier puppy with a red ribbon around his neck. He ran to me and I dropped to the floor and cried, the puppy kissing my face.
When I was thirteen my parent’s gave me Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. I am sure I would laugh at it now, but at the time, it spoke in a language I didn’t realize my soul was parched for.
I remember one essay well, about how we grow old in layers like an onion.
So when we are 12 we are 11, 10, 9, 8.. etc, etc.
I carry all these ages in me. Having a puppy makes me feel 10, like the little girl who wanted nothing more than to be with animals because they taught me how to be human.
All these ages I carry inside of me. It has made me who I am.
That is why I no longer fear growing old.
There are beautiful things in life to grow alive to, and many of them take time.
Love. A sense of community and home. Being ok with ones selves. My writing. A deeper sense of the presence of God all around me. Daily thankfulness and contentment.
I look forward to growing into these things as these things grow into me.
So bring it on, 27.