I am about to start my twenties.
It’s like the moment in 13 Going on 30 when Jennifer Garner’s character, Jenna Rink, who has the best character name ever, wakes up one morning and realizes she’s no longer thirteen and she’s… well… thirty (as I’m sure you could have guessed). Anyway, this is exactly what has happened to me. I swear.
I have always wanted to be in my twenties, though never for a second did I genuinely wish I was another age. I’ve been excited for my twenties. I think that they seem glamorous and fun and they have all the good stuff. Like maybe within the next decade I’ll meet a guy who likes all the same things I do and maybe one day we’ll have babies. And in the next decade I’ll have a job, hopefully. I’ll really be who I am, or who I’m going to be, and it’s just SO cool that it’s all going to happen because it has to – because life just keeps going.
But I am pretty sure that just a few moments ago I was five and received my first lecture from a doctor after slamming my little brother’s chin into the wooden floor of our living room. (This was the first time I got lectured by a doctor; after the age of 16 most doctors’ lectures revolve around condom usage, no matter what!)
And I swear to the mother, the sister, and the holy spirit that just this morning – just this morning!!! – I was nine and so obsessed/intrigued by colonial American culture after a school field trip that I brought a silver mixing bowl from my kitchen into my room to use as a “basin” next to my bed so that I could “rinse my hands” at night before falling asleep. My mom’s response to this was something along the lines of WTF Hannah, so I had to bring it back down to the kitchen the next morning.
I loved more than just the habits of young colonial women. When I was in third grade, I told my teacher that I was going to write a book about famous females in history. On that lined paper we all used to learn script, I proceeded to spend free time for two weeks writing about my favorites: Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Anne Frank. Of course, this was all completely plagiarized from the mini-chapter books I obsessively read about each of them every morning from 6:30 to 7:30.
Later that year, in third grade, I completely made up a miraculous event in my life and wrote about it for my final memoir; I was called into a circus ring, which I vaguely remember happening but Mother dearest insists that it “must have been a dream.” Often, I have trouble remembering the moment I realized I wanted to write, or even the moment I realized I liked to write, and that it felt as good, if not better, than your legs do when you shave after two weeks sans shaving. But maybe, now that I’m almost twenty – double digits again! – I can say that this moment was probably it.
Right now, I’m sitting on my bed in my apartment in Prague. And I’m basically alone. And I cooked dinner for myself tonight, albeit the fact that I didn’t realize I had to cook dinner for myself until my blood sugar was so low that I felt weak in the knees, yes, in the same way I did when I realized how attractive Spanish men were this past weekend in Barcelona.
Can you believe that everything in the above paragraph is true?
So, we must ask ourselves: Is this real life? Am I really going to be 20? Did I actually just travel to Barcelona, casually, for the weekend, without my mom and dad? Where is my nightgown and my miniature-sized version of The Big Comfy Couch (ignore the fact that I still sleep with blinders/my teddy bear/blankie)? Where is that moment when, after months of unsuccessful attempts, I finally had the chutzpah to shove a tampon up my hoohah? What about the time I shit my pants on stage during my camp age group’s production of Sleeping Beauty in 2006? Or when I woke up my mom in the middle of the night to let her know I had my first kiss?
Life is a crazy, crazy thing. Last week, I was telling my therapist that at least twice a day I find myself looking around some public space and screaming inside of my head, “How is no one else freaking out right now? How am I the only one?”
Her response was simple: “Why do you think we speak to each other, Hannah?” she asked. “Why do you think we have language, or we have Skype [the method through which we were talking], or we communicate at all? It’s because no one can cope with it all alone. We would all go crazy if we did.”
And she was right. I’ve spent the last three weeks obsessively journaling, which is something I haven’t had time to do in years. But it isn’t really the same. Simply put, I can’t turn twenty alone.
So, is anyone else freaking out right now? Am I not the only one?
I had a very big life goal (I am a very big goals person, ask me for my New Years’ resolution list and I can serve you a copy of my 2008 Microsoft Word version if you’d like) and it was only this: to write my first book before my twentieth birthday. I thought that teenage allure would make it that much more, uh, alluring. I thought that I would be so accomplished, and I would be the YOUTH!
Well, bad news bears, I did not write a book, and I am about to turn twenty. My mom told me that maybe I should extend the goal one year, because obviously you aren’t really an adult until you can legally drink.
I’m not not saying that I plan on following the goal suggested by my mom. (Side note: I originally made that sentence a quadruple negative and decided that it was just mean to do and not even funny or worth it.) But, more importantly, age is just a number. I’m still the same me from third grade, so in another nine or ten months, I’ll probably be the same me that I am tonight, but a little bit different, too.
Tomorrow I will no longer be a teenager and I will never be a teenager again and soon 19 will feel as far away as the time I needed my first bra because early onset nippilitis at age 10. I’ll just leave it at that.
My birthday’s tomorrow. But it was also yesterday, and it’s kind of also tonight. Oh, and it was Friday, too. Tomorrow’s the last day, though. I solemnly swear.
I love birthdays — always have, and always will. I don’t love them as much as I used to. With each birthday I somehow seem to be getting another year older, not sure how, though, and as I get older I find that I’m in charge of making sure my birthday is all about me. When you’re little, you don’t realize that making a day (or a week) all about you isn’t a natural occurrence. It’s an effort made for you every year without question.
People might say to you, “You’re birthday’s so soon already!” just because they remember how wasted they got at dinner the year before. If you don’t say, “Let’s go sake bombing,” or, “What should I do for my birthday ?” there’s an increasing chance, with each year, that nothing will happen. Your parents will remember, and your best friends will too, and you’ll get some presents, but it’s not like what it used to be. Whatever happened to goody bags? Ice cream cake?
Let us not be too cynical — I still love birthdays. When I was younger, I wasn’t sure how to make a birthday because I was too busy being a part of it. After years of a Facebook account, months of increased Instagram usage, new (and old) friends, and almost two years of keeping a (fro-yo) diary, I’ve become able to break down what the birthday ‘requires,’ so to speak, once it becomes your own. I do it — you do, too — and it’s what keeps us sane enough to avoid the anxiety of getting older and becoming a real human. If feeling forever young means obsessing over miniature foods, I don’t hate it.
1. Two birthday dinners. One is loud and drunken. You’re surrounded by an overwhelming amount of people who have too many conversations at once, and you can never really tell if everyone’s having a good time or not. There’s lots of wine though, which makes up for basically everything. It doesn’t count if it doesn’t take twenty minutes to figure out how you’re going to split the bill. The other dinner is small and cute with the few peeps you love the most. It’s generally more focused on the quality of the food than the restaurant’s BYOB policy.
2. Birthday texts at midnight. As long as you get one of these, you’re in the clear. It’s kind of sad to get none, but you don’t really need a million, either… just enough to make you effing stoked for tomorrow, which is bound to be the best day, like, ever. Just like how every other birthday you’ve ever had was bound to also be the best day ever. I’d never get mad at a friend for not sending the midnight text, because my birthday is 24 hours long and shit happens.
3. Receive a lot of large packages. A lot of small packages won’t do. Mail won’t really do, either. It’s all about taking a pic of yourself surrounded by large boxes with your flawless birthday hairdo. And then your friend has to post it to social media and be like, “LOOK AT THIS QUEEN. LOOK AT HER.”
4. Keeping a mental list of people you are curious to hear from — or not hear from. Think exes, frenemies, the boy you have an awkward history with, the boy you hope is secretly in love with you, etc. At the end of the day, you must always say to yourself, wow, I’m very surprised that she didn’t call, or can’t believe I didn’t hear from him! Also, people who text instead of Facebook post get brownie points. And people who call… marry them. Just marry them all.
5. Spend an extra twenty minutes getting ready in the morning. When you walk by people throughout the day, they have to compliment you on your appearance (You look so good today!) or wish you a happy birthday (Ohmigod, happy birthday girrrrl!). Obviously though, we’re aiming for both.
6. Be disappointed by something or someone. Otherwise, how do you plan on getting your good birthday cry in? IT’S MY PARTY AND I’LL CRY IF I WANT TO, BITCHES.
7. Someone has to take a beautiful photo of you blowing out your candles, in which you look candid and happy and fun. Then you can Instagram it the next day, and caption it, “Thank you to my fans for the best birthday yet! Couldn’t have done it without all of you!”
8. Birthday collages must be made in your honor. If no one Instagrams you a birthday collage, then is it really your birthday? And if she didn’t only choose pictures in which she looks hot, is she a true friend? We all know that only true friends make Insta collages, and wouldn’t dare make real collages, or, even better, just Instagram a solo shot of you. Because how rude would it be of you to hog your birthday attention all to yourself and deny your friend the right to make herself look good, too?
9. Wear something that informs the peasantry it’s your birthday, such as a crown, tiara, ribbon, sash, perhaps a ball gown, etc. This is only socially acceptable when you go out drinking (see number one re: the “loud and drunken dinner”) because sober people would judge you too much for it.
10. Receive cute miniature desserts. Choose from an array of Baked By Melissa, Momofuku cake truffles, cupcakes in a jar, etc. Everyone needs these because they certify that it is your birthday, and not because the birthday girl will actually eat that much of it. Ugh, I ate half of a BBM (Baked By Melissa)! I’m so full! Someone help me finish this tray of cupcakes that all together weighs less than a slice of pizza!
I’m thinking of making a birthday collage for myself this year. Thoughts? Y/N/M? LMK. THX.
(p.s. You have three and a half hours to prepare your midnight birthday greeting to me. If you don’t send me one, I’m excommunicating you from the kingdom.)
My second post (ever) on The Fro-Yo Diaries was about “not knowing how old I am,” metaphorically, of course. Often, I feel like I really don’t. I can take care of myself, sometimes I can’t; I’m independent until I need someone desperately; I sometimes cry for hours (but then again, this could be somewhat unrelated to age and instead related to the menstrual cycle).
So on today of all days–my birthday–I would think that age would feel like more than just a number. I would expect to know how old I am for just this one day, if ever. I haven’t really had that epiphany of self-awareness ever before. But then again, I’ve never been as old as I am right now, in this millisecond. I’m getting older with each word that I type, and I’ve never been this old and I’ll never be that young again. This doesn’t worry me yet, but then again, my boobs haven’t started to sag yet and hopefully they won’t for a couple more decades. When they do, I’m sure I’ll freak the fuck out come every September 22nd.
I feel like the fact that we don’t abide to the law takes away from a birthday. Everyone says that it’s impossible to survive your 21st without vomiting all over yourself even though you’ve probably vomited all over yourself before. The only difference is that the alcohol you’re regurgitating was consumed legally. Maybe it will make you feel cooler to have covered yourself in “legal vomit,” but vomit is vomit and it’s absolutely disgusting either way. When you break it down, no one cares about the legality of your vomit. It seems cool for a second until you realize that you’ve been drinking underage since you were thirteen or fourteen, perhaps even since the sacred moment of a sip of Manischewitz from the kiddish cup at your very own Bar or Bat Mitzvah. In reality, vomit is vomit. You’ve done it before, you’ll do it again, and congrats, you’re 21.
But don’t get me wrong–I absolutely love birthdays. I always was very into themed parties. Kindergarten was Dalmatian themed. A clown came and did Britney Spears karaoke with us. We got spots painted on our faces and made our own dog ears. First grade was Luau. Everyone wore bathing suits, grass skirts, and leis. I had an epic sandbox in my backyard and we obviously played limbo. A week before the party, a girl who I didn’t like much from my class in school came up to me and told me that she got her invitation, to which I responded, “You did? But you weren’t invited.” To my knowledge, she wasn’t. And clearly, things haven’t changed much since then as my lack of both a filter and a patience for people who piss me off remains to this day. If you were wondering how the story ends, she insisted that she was invited, which was odd because she was talking to me and it was my party. She didn’t show up, but, like, whatever. She also peed in her pants once and I told everyone about it, so I guess the lesson learned is don’t go where you aren’t welcome/karma’s a bitch/all things happen for a reason/God has a plan or something like that.
My mom would always get me a cupcake on my half birthday, and all of my friends thought that was weird. It’s not weird, it just bolstered my reputation as a
chunky bodacious preteen and made my mom the coolest mom ever.
The most interesting thing about birthdays to me is how well-celebrated they are. It’s as if someone is patting you on the back and saying, “You’re alive!!!! Yayy!!!!!” Last night I went out to celebrate the eve of my birth, and I happened to run into a lot of my international friends. Each of them kept telling me “Congratulations!!!!!!!!!” I think they only said that because of the literal translation of whatever the word they use at home to send well wishes on a birthday is. But, I could be wrong. Maybe they mean “congrats” when they say it. As cliché as it sounds, today I keep thinking about how I should celebrate being alive every day. I’m dead serious. Before I get sappy enough to film an Activia commercial–maybe even a birth control one–I’m going to stop. But you get what I mean.
To close, I would like to show everyone to a great BuzzFeed article I saw that lets you find out which fictional character has the same birthday as you. So, I would like to cordially wish a very happy birthday to Frodo and Bilbo Baggins!