There’s just this something about spending your 22nd birthday the exact way you want it and acting like the kid you never got to be. Now that you’re an adult, it’s time to pamper yourself like a kid. And I did. At the Pokemon Center, crown and all, basking in the curious looks the young children were giving me. Becoming an adult entails spending money on those childhood dreams you never could, chasing the youth you wish you had and being old enough not to care what people think. It’s my day, I’ll do what I want, and enjoy it how I want to.
I haven’t left the house for a proper outing in ages. Supermarket and conbini trips don’t count, and neither do errands. I put on makeup – not just a thin layer of foundation and drawing on my brows, I went for some eyeliner and mascara too. It was fun.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY BERNIE!!!” came the messages as the clock struck twelve across timezones and although I was all alone staring at a screen, I felt connected to the family I had around the world. Heart emoji, kind words and pictures filled the text that popped up one after another each passing hour and to each I pressed the ‘like’ button – both the digital and physical one I kept within me.
“HAPPY BERFDERF” was one wish, accompanied with the most retarded smiley I had ever seen, and it was one of the most fitting ways to commemorate. The best wishes aren’t the perfect ones, but the imperfect, raw ones that resonate with you the most. It’s that familiar tingle and the way your lips curl into a smile before you let out a laugh, the corners of your eyes wrinkle and in that moment all you can think about is the joy you’re experiencing and how blessed you are.
It’s the notes of a birthday song, off key, too low, too high, filled with laughter in between phrases but it sounds like nothing but warmth. Of wishes planned, surprises, the feelings of others captured perfectly in those few minutes, seconds, those couple of letters. Thank you, is the only response, really.
Of times spent alone in thought, of times spent with friends, laughing or even just in contented silence. It’s strange to find this balance between wanting to isolate myself and gravitating toward the company of others, and I count the precious memories made as reason enough to try and put myself out there, treasure the friends, the people, the connections made.
The time is always too short, before long we are saying our goodbyes. Before long the sparks have gone out, the fire has fizzled and I look at the bucket of water by the pavement we throw the sparklers into. “Expelliarmus!” we cried, laughing, jumping, taking photos. When is the next time we can be like this?, I think, but there is no next time, is the harsh reality. Just as it brought us together we’re torn apart and these fragments, these snapshots are the remainders of that crystal of emotions. The smoke billowing in the air takes with it the fading wishes of tomorrow.
Each year that passes sees the beginnings and the ends of countless things. The moment someone embarks down a new road is the moment new life is born, and when one departs, another takes it place. Each year takes me further away from all those beginnings that are now frayed thread ends, waiting for that final strand to snap, the memories cloud and then dissipate to nothing.
2+0, 2+1, now 2+2, these numbers I stare at, what do these represent? What do they count? I am no where closer to one step forward than I was three, four steps ago – sideways on horizontal, struggling for that path toward the vertical.
What does “feeling twenty-two” mean when it’s always felt this way, each strike of the clock doesn’t magically change the circumstances around you, there’s no instant mood swing from oh to OH! and staring at the screens that relay the magical words makes it more oh? than anything else.
Placing filters to make things seem better though the flaws still lie beneath the denial and a press of ‘undo’ unravels the truth. I sit and stare, looking, and looking and not finding.
It seems I’ve turned 22.