Friday, October 8, I officially entered the period of life known as the “limbo year,” in which I still cannot legally go to a bar, in time of emotional crisis, an drink myself unconscious yet; but I can now live with the shallow confidence that since my age no longer ends in the suffix “-teen,” I am no longer a child. Of course, this celebration comes with the bittersweet understanding that while I may no longer be a teenager, I now have to take on more responsibilities as an adult. The thought scares me, terrifically.
But whatever misfortunes adulthood might bring have been stifled, at the moment, by celebrations galore this weekend. I often feel bad for my mother having to squeeze me out of her pelvis twenty years ago. Sometimes, I will reflect on possibilities of a future with children, and I am not as willing to sacrifice my sanity for hours of pain–even though I know I probably will one day, regardless of how I feel now. Twenty years ago, I was the bright light in all of my parent’s darkness, even during my months of colic behavior. Now, I am my father’s oldest child, only daughter and an adult student in college–I honestly cannot believe I have made it this far, and how fast it has all gone by.
Friday, my literature class was cancelled, and I was more than a little thrilled to get an early break from school on my birthday. I met up with my boyfriend Trey who gave me the best birthday card and gift I can remember getting. He actually pays attention to the little things that matter to me. We spent two hours together just talking and I ended up unintentionally reminiscing about my mother and how I wish she could be with me, to see me–to see how far I have come. She saw me at 16-years of age (a time I would rather forget), but she never got the chance to see me now, or the journey I took to get here. It is the first birthday her passing legitimately affected me. But I would rather feel some sense of attachment to the woman who made my life possible than not at all. Particularly on the day it is all being honored.
The night was followed by a little across-the-border cuisine at a Mexican restaurant 10 minutes from Chelsea’s house. We met Elizabeth there and sat a table just big enough for the three of us and my presents. Beside my party, there were two older ladies, probably regrettably looking face-to-face at forty and more drunk than they were willing to admit. Not only were they loud, but they were very social and the minute they saw the shine bounce off of one of my present’s packaging, they decided to consider themselves part of the party. When their presence was first made known to me, I did not mind. We chose a table outside, in a more private area of the restaurant’s seating arrangements. I assumed anyone sitting near us would be awkwardly part of our conversations. Both of the women were dressed rather casually–over-sized t-shirts with explicit graphics referencing hunting or a NASCAR driver; their margarita glasses were deeper than the soup bowls in the kitchen, and the amount of salt stuck to the rim of the glasses made even my lips feel dry. The look on their faces when they saw the birthday cake made me wonder how long they planned on joining us from across the tables.
Eventually, we ended up talking to them about men and “how they all like to play games.” According to the more vocal and intrusive of the two women, “All men play games, you just gotta’ play harder.” If I were not so against being a redneck feminist like the rest of the women in my family, I probably would have cynically agreed. On the other hand, I do not waste my time playing games with anyone, so the idea of playing a game against someone out of spite or a need for power left me simply giggling as the woman expounded upon theory after theory. And in the years she had been an active player in this love-game of hers, she has come up with quite a few theories. “I’m gonna’ write a book one day. I really should do it,” she said. Her friend was no help–she merely encouraged her.
I respected the time we spent talking to them. After all, I, just like the rest of the world, like to have a story to tell, but I appreciated more when their excitement died down and they left. Eventually, the night was as dark as it was going to get and Chelsea, Elizabeth and I were the only three left sitting outside. I finished opening my presents and ate a bit of birthday cake, only to find myself growing tired. Chelsea called out for the check, and the waiter shooed her away saying our dinner was covered. By whom, we can only assume, the two women we had entertained earlier. Trey met us again at Chelsea’s house after the three of us had an odd photo shoot, in the living room, full of weird faces and advances at each other. The entire night was a success, and I got to spend it with the three people who, down here, mean the absolute most to me. I could not have asked for more.