“Twenty-Nine (+ One)”

Soooo it was my birthday last week. And—according to everyone BUT me—it was a pretty big one. (Context Note: I haatttee birthdays, so I’ve decided this will be my last. No more birthdays!) It’s supposed to be this big deal–it being the big “three-oh” — or as I like to call it “twenty-nine plus one”. Not to exaggerate or sound flippant, it truly, TRULY surprises the hell out of me that I’ve actually made it this far, to thirty. Hell, with everything I’ve done, what I’ve seen, and what I’ve gone through … it’s a real wonder that I’m still here, alive and breathing.  


If you were to ask me seven or eight years ago, I imagine I probably would have said that would take nothing short of a miracle. But I was so wrecked then, and hurt. Still reeling. Still fighting my way to the surface, bogged down my emotional and physical scars, trust issues, and insecurities that were still new and raw. It was all at-once and just so overwhelming. Before that, I never really factored in or gave much credence to age–and mine in particular. It really was just a number. And thirty–well, thirty seemed far off…I thought I had time. Until I didn’t. I think that, for the most part, I hadn’t really seen myself as being a grown-up or an adult, at least not before then. I was still in that naïve, trusting, utterly oblivious, left-over-from-teenager-dom state. I hadn’t really lived yet, you know? I wasn’t innocent–I’d experimented a little and crossed a few boundaries–but it was mostly just minor things, mixed in with some select, world shattering, major moments. Some of it was fear…some of it was hesitation. In the end, I think I was just waiting for some AH-HA- moment to strike where I’d finally start to feel my age and realize that I was, in fact, an adult. It’s ironic how I spent so much of my childhood and adolescence waiting–albeit impatiently—wanting nothing more than to grow up. For the day to come where it would all just fall into place and I’d finally get the chance to flip that adult switch. The day when I would stop being seen as a kid and finally be seen as an equal among my peers and to the rest of the world. All those years–all that time I spent looking forward, oblivious to what was happening in the “now”– unable to see or appreciate all that time and what I’d had; what was right there in front of me, the whole time. Like most teenagers, I had a narrow perspective and distorted view of what I expected and how I thought it would be. I romanticized it all–maybe a little too much–imagining and comparing adulthood and independence to some exciting adventure. I never could have predicted–nor did I–just how far that adventure would go ultimately.


Oh, how I had big dreams back then. To find success. To travel the world. To  see for myself that there really was a whole bigger world out there, beyond the small town that I’d called home my entire life. I was so independent and curious and more than anything, determined to feel and experience everything. Just thinking about it was like a high just by itself–without the drugs and other fun goodies. But as with all highs, you have to crash at some point. Hindsight is 20/20. I wish that I had held on to those years and that innocence I’d managed to somehow keep hold of–in spite of some pretty messed up shit. If I had it to do all over again, I’d do it…exactly the same. Pain is visceral; heartache even more so. And no matter how much you want and try to avoid it, it’s inevitable. Pain exists for a reason…it’s a reminder of what’s real; that we ourselves are real. No one tells or prepares you for it, for what’s out there. They don’t tell you that adulthood is hard and complicated and well, that it’s messy. There are no warning, they just throw you to the wolves and watch the slaughter. You’re alone in the world. With your regrets and your worries and those brutal, hellish lessons waiting to be learned, and all while the universe slowly chips away at your soul until there’s barely any of it left. I went looking for adventure, but fell head-first into one disaster after another. The world is big and mean and scary as hell. It doesn’t have to be, but it is. 


I hate that last little push into adulthood—always will. Though it completely sucked at the time—obviously—I can see now that it was a necessary evil. For so long I’d been walking around in this daze, running on good nights and good times with good friends, and sunshine, with this whole you-only-live-once persona (before YOLO was even a thing) and not really learning or growing as a person. If that makes sense. I needed the reality check…or that “swift-kick-in-the-ass” as my Grams would say.


When I think back to my mindset then and how I was essentially in this slow-moving stasis—it seems and feels as if an entire lifetime has passed between then and now. Like I’m a completely different person. I guess, in some ways, I kind of am. I don’t know if that’s a good thing…but I’d like to think that it is. Being young is so easy. You could literally hold time on the tips of your fingertips—or so it seemed. Everything was expendable. School, popularity, friends…the whole shebang. Of course, there were a few edgy, brief moments that made me question my invincibility. Like getting chased by a gun-toting-wannabe-gangster in a rough part of town because your friend decided to deal with her grandfather’s recent passing by getting numb-drunk. And such as it usually was when the Bestie got a tad bit too drunk…things escalated from there. She chose to respond to a somewhat insensitive comment by smashing a beer bottle over the back of said wannabe-ganger’s head. Or like leaving a party at 3am and you happen to stop for a street light next to a car with 4 leering guys and your idiot, drunk friend decides to roll down her window, shamelessly flirt for a full 20 or 30 seconds, and idiotically challenge them to follow us back to where we were going—and despite that challenge being drunk-silly and insincere, they ACTUALLY do it and follow your car 35 minutes (with several failed attempts to lose them), only to be met by several of your macho male friends who promptly crushed their expectations of a hookup of any kind, and subsequently threatened by the sudden appearance of a gun when ordered to leave. See? It really is a miracle that my friends and I made it this far, considering how reckless and ridiculous we were


People keep asking me what I want for my birthday. They, of course, laugh when I answer with “the last ten years of my life back”. They think I’m just being funny when in-fact, I’m dead serious.


Thirty—it just doesn’t seem possible. It feels like it was just yesterday when my friends and I were teens sitting in the quad, talking and joking about how thirty was so far off…how we’d be settled and have everything figured out by then. But here I am, not exactly settled…and nothing figured out.


BUT I’VE GOT TIME.


Sooo, I guess it’s a Happy (LAST) Birthday To ME.   


xo MESSIE xo

 PS. Found an old photo album earlier… This little gem was in it. (I apparently didn’t like to wear clothes…lol)

Oh, to be FIVE and FUN and FOREVER YOUNG again… 

Me & My Sissy. ❤ ( age 4/5ish )

 

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You Should Be Here…

Today was Avie’s birthday. She’s six years old already—yeah, it’s crazy. Where does the time go? Seriously. Where. Does. It. Go. Seems like it was just yesterday that I was sitting on those big blue foam mats in the kids’ playroom at my Gram’s, watching roll around until she ran out of room, and thinking “she’s mobile”. And in the next moment thinking “oh no, it’s starting”—pretty soon she’ll be walking and those gummy smiles and baby babble will turn into words—and that once the words started, there’d be no stopping her. Six years and I wasn’t wrong. She’s a little spitfire, that one. She just doesn’t stop…the talking, the running around, the attitude, the energy…it doesn’t stop. She’ll talk your ear off with that Southern accent of hers…which we can’t for the life of us figure out where she got it from. She’s all sass and Miss. I-Do-What-I-Want, so much so that it gets on your nerves sometimes, and other times when you can’t help but smile at her dramatics. She’s fiercely independent, and grows more so with each passing day (Gee, I wonder who she gets that from… lol). Six years ago she came into this world and she’s been a light in our lives ever since. That little girl, she changed me. Hell, she saved me.


IMG_6921


Her birthday’s always a little bittersweet, though. My grandfather’s—or Papa, as we called him—birthday is the day before hers. He would have been 78 this year. Sadly, he never even made it to 61. Cancer. He fought a courageous battle with it for years…but ultimately he lost. I still think about it and him some times. Of what could have been and never was. I think about him now and wonder if he’d be proud of the woman I’ve become, of all my accomplishments and successes. I think about how different everything would be if he’d lived. For the most part, he was really the only male/ father figure I’d had growing up. Sure, my actual father was still there in the background with his child support checks and maybe a call or two every few years or so, if that. But my grandfather was actually there. Physically. Emotionally. I was only 12 when he died, but I felt the loss of him, all the same. I have these little snippets of memories here and there : of him picking us up from school, taking us for ice cream when we’d had a bad day or just because or even the smell of that old beat-up, brown car he used to drive and how he’d let me sit up front in the middle and play any old cassette tape that I wanted. He spoiled us—all of us—rotten, but it was out of love. He was the one who started my collection of Beanie Babies (remember those anyone?? Lol) and add to it every chance he got. Even when he was sick and weak and on the very cusp of his final moments, he stood in line and waited with me for hours at a convention just to buy 2 Beanie Babies. Though he was in pain, he never complained or said “that’s it kid, pack it up, we’re leaving”. Though I wish now that he had. Maybe it’d alleviate some of the guilt I felt then with him dying no more than a week afterwards. I was 12. I blamed myself, convinced that his decline had something to do with my having him stand in that line all those hours despite his pain, despite the fact that his circulation and legs were so bad he could hardly walk. Looking back at that 12 year old girl, I know that rationally, it wasn’t my fault. It was the cancer that had invaded, overwhelmed, and weakened his body. It was the cancer that ripped him out of our lives before we were even ready to lose him. The cancer was to blame.


*Papa*
                         *PAPA*

It’s bittersweet, but it makes me smile to think of what he would have thought about the kids. He’d have loved them and spoiled them to pieces, no doubt. Just as he did us. That Avie of ours would have given him a run for his money, that’s for sure. And of course, they’d have him wrapped around his little finger from the very start. Without a doubt they would have.


The kids have a tradition of buying birthday balloons for their “Papa” in heaven. Sometimes they’ll write a little note on theirs to him, then let them all go—convinced that when they disappear from view, that’s a sign that Papa reached down from heaven and took them all.


I don’t do that God and heaven and hell stuff. I can’t just survive on blind faith, as they seem to so easily do. I have to have tangible proof in my hand, physical evidence to back up a claim of any kind—much to my grams’ horror and outrage. She can’t believe the little girl she’d bring to church every Sunday—who literally grew up in the church—would turn out to be such an outspoken atheist. But I did. And a lot of it has to do with my grandfather’s death. I just couldn’t justify some invisible higher power—whom people claim to be “loving” and “all-knowing”—putting my grandfather what he went through. Allowing him to suffer as he did. Taking him before he had a chance to meet his beautiful great-grandchildren. Is that the will of a “loving” God? I don’t think it is. When no one could give me a good enough reason as to why my grandfather…I guess I just eventually stopped asking. I wasn’t going to find the answers I needed in some book or hymn or The Bible, so I stopped looking. Still, I go along with the kids. It’s harmless, I guess. And they’ll eventually grow up like I did and they’ll have that some choice to ask themselves and the world. I don’t want to burst their bubbles. If they say there’s a god…and that heaven is real…then it must be true, at least to them. I want them to have faith (not necessarily religion), in whichever shape it comes in. It’ll ground them, I think. And the way the world is right now—how it’ll be for them, I have a pretty good feeling that they’re going to need it. Hell, we ALL are gonna need it.

xoMESSIE


Birthday Candles…

Happy Birthday…to me!

So its my birthday today. Yep. The big two-five. Well…I’m officially old…a quarter of a century old to be exact. Turning 25–let’s see…any incentives? Not really. Maybe cheaper car insurance, but that’s about it. So yeah, turning 25…honestly…it’s a little disappointing. Boring.

The age thing doesn’t bother me. I don’t get why people get so worked up when it comes to age and getting older. I mean, we all have to get old and die someday, right? Right. As far as turning 25 goes…I guess it’s just a little bittersweet. Bitter–in that I’m not at all close to being where I thought I would be by now. Hell, just the other day I was sorting through my things and came across a box filled with all my old high school journals/diaries and yearbooks. I was looking through my senior yearbook and found my senior will–you know, the part where you predict where you’ll be in ten years from now and whatnot. At the time I wrote it, I’d had it all figured and planned out…or so I thought. It was a foolproof plan…but again…or so I thought. The plan was to go to school, earn my degree, and start on my career right after. I was going to have this amazing job in a field that I loved working in. Then once I did that… then I could focus on the white-picket-fence and starting a family. by then–complete with the loving husband, a couple of kids, and the totally clichéd white picket fence. But of course, nothing ever seems to go as planned in my world.

I started out on the right path. I really did. But somewhere along the way I got turned around and lost somehow. To put it simply…life happened. And all those dreams of mine and well-laid plans got tossed aside. No matter how hard I tried and how much I wanted to, I couldn’t stop life from happening.

But I’ll get there…someday. I know it. Until then, happy birthday to me…..

xoxo

MESSIE

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