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 )