i remember being 6 and desperate to be 7— my sister had a book to gift me for the occasion, and i was positively vibrating with the anticipation of it becoming mine. 7’s always been my lucky number. the date of my birth, the days in the week, the start of my phone number. and so, 7 came and went, and suddenly i was 8.
i moved to georgia. it didn’t hurt nearly as much as i’d expected, as much as i’d hoped. I’d wanted to feel pain in the real way, to wail and sob like a DCOM protagonist, to shut myself in my room until my mother stood the doorway to talk me down. pain makes feelings matter; who am i, if i’ve never suffered? but instead, i was fine. i said goodbye to my friends, packed my bags, and left. i haven’t spoken to any of them since.
i finally hit the double digits. i was in fourth grade. coincidentally, it was also the first time in my life that a crush had liked me back. i felt like a real woman. i remember straightening my hair and wearing my favorite pink outfit to school, a matching shirt and skirt, box of cupcakes for the class clutched in hand. they sang happy birthday and i somehow forgot what sadness was.
the first time i cried on a birthday.
sweet sixteen! this was it! i planned a party, heart thumping in my chest wondering if anyone would come. i didn’t cry on my birthday, but i cried the morning of the party. i wonder if that still counts. when the blurred vision of my tears cleared, i saw the puzzle pieces of my life falling into place. i remember thinking: “i’m finally who i’m meant to be.” (spoiler: i was wrong)
an adult. i cried (again), but who doesn’t? i celebrated with my family, counting down the days between then and graduation. 18. one of my favorite one direction songs; it dawned on me that i only had a year left to fall in love so i could play it at my wedding. 18. it dawned on me that my youth was slipping away. in a year, i’d be celebrating my birthday in a city miles and miles away, distanced from my family for the first time in my life. (spoiler: i was wrong about that, too) 18. it feels so scary, getting old.
today. i haven’t cried yet. i wonder if i will. i wonder a lot, these days. this day is not how i imagined it; this year is not either. i think i am okay with that, though. expectations, in my life, have often led to disappointment. 19 19 19. i missed my window with the 1D song, but i think i’m okay with that, too. 19 19 19. i repeat the word until it loses all meaning. 19 19 19. i begin to wonder if it ever had any. 19 19 19. life is an incomprehensible amalgamation of numbers words moments symbols ideas. 19 19 19. none of them mean anything. 19 19 19. or perhaps all of them mean everything? 19 19 19. today, i am 19. it means nothing. it means everything.
19 19 19.
i close my eyes and make a wish.
happy birthday to me.