Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Loathing & Loving My Summertime Birthday
I hated having a summer birthday.
In elementary school I never got to bring cupcakes to share with my class. In high school, I got my driver's license nearly a year after some of my classmates. And in college, I had to wait oh-so-long for that coveted ID verifying that I could legally order my very own beer.
But after the age of 21, birthdays don't come with benefits like driving, voting or drinking. After that, a summertime birthday becomes a perk.
My birthday lands smack dab in the middle of vacation season, and I've celebrated my birthday in at least nine states.
I turned 18 in Washington, D.C. Paul and I spent my 23rd birthday driving from Fargo, North Dakota, to Chicago. Two years later we flew from Seattle to Columbus. In fact, I began celebrating at 9 p.m. the night before to make up for the time difference.
But no doubt about it, I've had some memorable Ohio birthdays, too. I turned 16 at Cedar Point and begged my dad to drive me to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles as soon as we returned to Defiance the next day so I could get my learner's permit (he did). And I spent my 21st birthday at the now-defunct Larry's across the street from Ohio State. I can't remember exactly how many people were there, but I remember getting way too many free drinks.
And maybe because I was denied a day to share cupcakes, when I was younger I looked forward to my birthday party every summer even more. My cousins and I swam in the pond and spent the whole afternoon playing games-- wiffle ball, volleyball, basketball or even ping pong. (It's probably not a surprise to anyone who knows me that I was best at ping pong.) Sometimes an aunt and uncle from Indiana would even bring fireworks and we'd have a private, belated Independence Day display that night.
Today I'm celebrating my second birthday in New York. I'll be spending the day trying to forget that I'm growing older, that I'm now definitely in my late 20s and no longer in the nebulous mid-20s.
Paul and many of my friends have already hit 30. I'm two years short and I already know I won't be taking that well. Sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one ... those were fun ages to turn. Now the milestones all end in "zero," and none of them are good. I remember when I was told that there would come a day when I would be glad to be younger than my classmates. That day has arrived.