25 things on my 25th birthday

I’m not entirely sure how I feel – that’s how I’ve been quite often these past couple of months. Initially, I wanted to write something profound and spectacular for today, but my mind never stays in one place long enough for me to write something about it – that’s been happening a lot too. And every time I pause and dwell on these two observations, I get mad at myself and at everything else because nothing rattles me more than not knowing, especially when it comes to myself. So I’ve decided to just grab a pen and paper, and list down everything and anything that comes to mind because for my 25th birthday, I don’t want to be mad… I want to be honest.

#1: The one thing I’m most thankful for at this very moment is my sister. At 12 midnight, when I was in bed and so ready to sleep, Karen jumped on me and hugged the life out of me to greet me a happy birthday. Sometimes, when she’s in an exceptionally good mood and needs to express it through physical contact, she inadvertently becomes physically abusive with me. Sometimes, when she’s in an exceptionally bad mood and needs someone to witness her rage, she demands I stop everything I’m doing to be that person. But always, and I mean always, she is my rock.

#2: I wasn’t able to have a birthday breakfast because I woke up pretty late. But I had pizza for lunch. It was good pizza. And good pizza makes good birthdays.

#3: Halfway through the day, my mom asked me if I had already received a lot of greetings. I told her, without any hesitation or thought, “The people who matter already did so I’m good.”

#4: Up until that point, I had gotten less than ten greetings. I still keep my birthday hidden on my Facebook profile. So after thinking about that after my mom’s question, I felt good. I truly meant it. I am good.

#5: At work, Karen surprised me with my favorite cake and led all my students and co-teachers in singing Happy Birthday to me. I told you, she’s my rock.

#6: Aside from a chocolate mousse cake, I also received a new pair of red shoes (a first!), a good book and a coloring book. I’ve never expected gifts, but I’m always glad I get them anyway.

#7: My twin sister’s ex-boyfriend greeted me on Facebook. In his short post, he wrote, “Greet your sister for me.” That annoyed me. And since it’s my birthday, I felt bolder than usual. I wrote back, “Thanks! Also, my sister has a name. And I’m sure you know what it is.” Did I mention he cheated on her and broke up with her on our birthday? He apologized. That felt good.

#8: I’ve now spent three consecutive birthdays without my twin sister. This is the only time I wish we spent it together. I’ve always thought that I know Kat more than she knows me and I was always fine with that. Meaning, I didn’t care if she knew me or not. She acknowledged that when I visited her this past summer. But being with her for two months certainly brought us closer, and now I find myself wanting to literally grow old with her again. I find myself wanting her to know me the same way I know her.

#9: So naturally, I spent a huge part of the day thinking of her and how she’s doing everything she’s always wanted to do. And how I’m not.

#10: Last year, I wrote on my journal that I’d be somewhere else by now, a place that is at least one step closer to where I want to be. But I’m still exactly where I was when I wrote that.

#11: I’ve never felt as stranded as I do right now. I know where I want to be and I know how to get there. And I know I can.

#12: You know what else I know? The future I want is a balloon, the hand on my shoulder is the same one that taught me how to walk, and what I have in my hand is a tiny needle. I can either pop the balloon or I can prick the hand and watch it bleed. Both will hurt my heart.

#13: I feel the desire to let out a hearty “Fuck it.” more now than I did before. It’s the only word that comes to mind when I think of balloons and needles.

#14: I cried a bit today. Balloons and needles.

#15: But when I think of anchors, “Fuck it.” is the last thing that comes to mind. My best friend telling me how she’s quite possibly the luckiest person in the world to have me as her anchor is my anchor today.

#16: Ironically, the hand on my shoulder is also my anchor today. Because no matter how they unknowingly pull me down, nothing lifts me higher than my family.

#17: If I get married, I probably won’t let my husband call me sweetheart. I am forever my dad’s sweetheart.

#18: I’m 25 years old, I’m still single and, surprisingly (to me), I’m still okay with it. I think about love a lot more than I used to and I miss it more often than I normally do. But I look at my grandparents, who are sitting across from me at my birthday dinner, and I know I’d rather be single for the rest of my life than not have a relationship that is, at the very least, remotely similar to theirs.

#19: However, I’m hoping that won’t be the case because I like hugs, holding hands and long walks on the beach. And I can’t cook. So I agreed to a deal with my cousins. If I’m still single by the time I turn 27, I will sign up for eHarmony.

#20: Honestly, I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that.

#21: Earlier today, I was also hoping for Chili’s Molten Chocolate Cake… And I got it! I got it because when my parents asked me what I wanted, that was my answer and they gave it to me.

#22: So maybe, I should just ask again. Their answer could be different. Their answer could be the same. I wouldn’t know unless I talk to them, wouldn’t I?

#23: Today I gave myself two gifts. The first one is self-pity. I got so tired of programming myself into seeing the glass half full that I smashed the glass into pieces so that there wouldn’t even be anything to look at. The second one – and I think this is the better one – is hope. False hope? Fake hope? Temporary hope? I honestly don’t know.

#24: I’ve said this before: Sometimes, I struggle with hope. And sometimes, I struggle, with hope. I’m not going to lie. Today and in days to come, hope will come and go. But today, and hopefully in days to come, I will choose to keep struggling.

#25: After all this, would you believe me if I say I still had a good birthday? Because I did. My 24th was full of happy things. My 25th had pizza, chocolate cakes, a midlife crisis, a good cry, my family and Karen. So I’m still good…. honest. 🙂

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Karen. 12 midnight, September 17
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24 things on my 24th birthday

Written on September 17, 2014:

#1: When I woke up, I smiled. It dawned on me then that, regardless of how much I spend my time worrying about not being able to make the most of my twenties, I’m finally one of those people who are genuinely happy and comfortable with growing older.

#2: Before turning 23, I decided to hide my birthday on Facebook. It sounds so nonsensical now, but back then, Facebook greetings contributed a great deal to whether or not I’d consider my birthday a happy one. And then on my 22nd birthday, I stopped caring about the number of wall posts I got and started caring about the actual content of the greeting. Maybe it’s the maturity that comes with the age, but I realized then that I only wanted to be greeted by the people I care about.

#3: Some time after midnight and 7 a.m. (the time I woke up), three of my best friends sent me a birthday text. My grandparents, my sister and my parents were next. After that, I felt like I would’ve been completely fine if no one else remembered. And that feeling made me happy.

#4: I used to expect everyone to make me feel special on my birthday. Now, though, I make myself feel special instead.

#5: And because I wanted to feel special, I had bacon for breakfast.

#6: I also had Frosted Flakes with chocolate milk because it makes me happy.

#7: And I sang Happy Birthday in the shower. And I danced to happy songs.

#8: While I used to want people to patronize me, I was never one to expect or ask for presents. That said, gifts, to me, are like a bucket load cherries on an already cherry-fied ice cream.

#9: And there are very few gifts that can make me happier than a beautifully wrapped book. Which is perfect because it’s one of the things I got!

#10: Another gift I received is a cool-looking watch. Which is also perfect because it’s been a long time since I’ve had one.

#11: But definitely the most interesting part of my day is receiving two separate bunches of Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins. One of my co-teachers gave me a box filled with 35 pieces of munchkins; my sister added another 5 pieces to that box when I got home from work. I didn’t even realize my love for Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins was that apparent to everyone.

#12: I’m going to say this because it’s my birthday so you can’t judge me, and even if it’s not my birthday I’ll probably say this anyway because I think it’s an achievement – I consumed 24 of those 40 munchkins. I didn’t even realize I ate that many until I counted the leftovers (which, by the way, I plan on eating tomorrow for breakfast). I guess subconsciously, my stomach wanted to eat a munchkin for each year of my existence. Also, this will sound more impressive (or gross?) if you ask what else I ate today. Answer: a whole lot more.

#13: I like that it’s the simple things that give me the most satisfaction. Like Dunkin’ Donuts or good books.

#14: I also like that I don’t need a big celebration. I only wanted my mom to cook my favorite cream of squash soup.

#15: So I spent my birthday dinner enjoying my mom’s cream of squash soup with my family and my best friend.

#16: For two years now, I’ve been spending my birthday with my best friend. Last year, she slept over for two nights, and we talked about the past and how it changed us for the better. This year, we talked about the future, and what adventures we’ll be having together. She actually wasn’t supposed to make it because of work. But God knew my birthday would be so much more awesome with her, so two hours before dinner, she was allowed to leave early and she was able to hitch a ride with a co-worker, who drove her straight to my house.

#17: One of my favorite birthday greetings came from a college friend who I had dinner with a week ago. She said, “Wishing for your next love life because you got everything else covered already.” I loved it not because she wanted me to have a love life (which I also appreciate, I guess), but because she sees me as someone who’s alright in life. No, I don’t have everything else covered and I still have my worries and doubts. But I like that she looks at me and sees that I’m alright, because I really am. Not perfect, just alright.

#18: Another favorite birthday greeting is from my best friend. Her first message, this was before she came over for dinner, goes, “See you this weekend, and I hope you don’t have a boring birthday because good lord, you’re 24. Can you please just go out and get wasted stupid already?? Or smoke a cigarette? Or you know, find a hot Brazilian guy to ogle or make out with.” And then after she went home, she goes, “Oh but sweetheart, make no mistake about it. I will be there to hold your hair while you throw up in the bathroom and afterwards, take you home the second you decide you finally wanna experience getting drunk for the first time.”

#19: I like that my best friend and I are polar opposites when it comes to life experiences, and that we still have the key to each other’s hearts regardless. I like that she finds me boring and devoid of craziness, but that we always have the best time together.

#20: One of the recent discoveries I made is that learning becomes a lot easier after you’ve graduated college. I’ve been taking a free online course on Sports & Society at Coursera.org (classmates, anyone?). I’m also trying to relearn Spanish until I become fluent at it. And I’m having a blast. Learning is so much more fun when you’re not expected to do it anymore.

#21: On my 18th birthday, my ex-boyfriend was an hour late for our date. I spent that entire hour trying to fight back tears, and failing miserably. That was the worst birthday ever.

#22: Fast forward to six years later, it completely amazes me how much my heart and spirit have grown.

#23: This might seem conceited and pretentious, but you know, I like me. I know me. I know what my heart deserves. I know my faults, strengths and weaknesses. I know where I am with God. And most of all, I know well enough to know there’s still a lot more I don’t know. And I am willing.

#24: There is no set formula for a good life. But I like to think that the basic ingredients to having one are all on this list… including, but not limited to, munchkins.

Feliz cumpleaños a mí!