The first time one of your friends gets engaged

Wow! Pow! Kazam! One of my good friends is engaged. Wasn’t I just on here like, yesterday saying I felt old? Well. I continue to feel old.

Here’s the thing. Weddings are in the air, I’ve been saying it for weeks now. My aunt is getting married, and as a bridesmaid (and my mother is the maid of honor) I’ve been pretty involved, doing all the necessary swooning and dress testing that is required of me. Thinking about weddings so much had inspired my boyfriend and I to start speculating seriously, for the first time, getting married ourselves. In a few years, of course, after we graduate and live together for a bit.

But now–now! My 21-year-old friend is engaged, and has set a date–for June!!! He’s getting married in three months. She’s not even pregnant. This is just what they want to do, and the thing is, we all support him. He’s not even being so crazy. He’s graduating in May, why not, right?

Marriage doesn’t mean much nowadays, so why not just do it for the benefits? If you’re planning on long term anyway, and love each other anyway, and are living together anyway, and own a cat together (like they do) anyway…

 

How am I so old that getting married seems like a normal thing to do? A bit early, sure, but nothing crazy. What!?

 

I’m happy for him. I really am. How surreal. How surreal.

Allowed Feelings

I’ve been thinking a lot about “allowed feelings.” Meaning, what am I allowed to feel? This may sound ridiculous, but let me give you a personal example. I’m turning 21 in 1 week, and I’m having a bit of a crisis over it. I’ve had a crisis about my birthday since my 18th birthday, and I doubt I’ll stop soon, but this one is particularly bad.

I will be able to do nearly everything at 21. There are no more restrictions for me. And that’s scary. It’s scary also because it’s the last birthday I’ll celebrate while still in college, since I graduate in December. Who knows what I’ll be doing a year from now? What job I’ll be working? Where I’ll be living? Definitely not in this apartment, since I move out permanently in 1 month. Probably not Boston. Maybe not even Massachusetts.

But to tie all this back, I don’t feel like I’m “allowed” to feel crisisy about my age yet. I know I’m young. I know my life is just beginning, I have no agency to be sad about being so-called old. But I do.

There’s a social tendency recently to quantify emotions like this. It’s sort of like when your mom used to make you finish dinner because there’s “starving kids in Africa,” even though finishing dinner did absolutely nothing for starving kids anywhere. It’s good, of course, to put things in perspective. But just because someone may have it worse does not mean that your experiences don’t matter.

So, I suppose just because someone is older than me doesn’t mean I can’t be mindful of getting older. The whole idea of “mindfulness” is taking note of one’s feelings and not judging oneself because of them. It’s hard not to judge yourself. It’s hard not to call yourself names. I’ve called myself stupid probably 1000x more than anyone else has ever called me stupid. We are so cruel to ourselves.

This is a lot to dump on this blog all at once, but I don’t write so much anymore so I guess that’s okay. I’ve been feeling down lately and this blog is helpful when I’m feeling down. Maybe that’s partly why my birthday is a bit scary, too. I’m turning 21! I should be happy!

“Should” be happy. “Allowed” to feel. I wish I didn’t feel the need to fulfill expectations so much.

How are you guys today? Does anyone else freak out over birthdays? Sometimes it feels good to forget about perspective and just wallow in your own experiences. Maybe it’s not the most healthy thing to do, but I believe some days of unhealthiness are vital  to a healthy life. It’s like a diet cheat day, but for your mental well being. Is that an insane idea? Probably. I allowed myself to have a “bad day” like I used to have when I was deep in my depression. I skipped work and just spent the afternoon in my bed. Ever since I’ve een feeling gloomy. Maybe this whole paragraph is a bad idea. Whatever, I know for a fact it’s good to write down feelings now and then, and this is how I feel, so whatever.

A year ago, I felt so much worse than I do now. I have that to be thankful for. My 21st year will be happier than my 20th, and that is an undeniably good thing.

Happy toes

For my grandmother, whose birthday is soon:

 

A hole a sock a thread a pin

A stuffed tomato to stick it in

A thimble a button a needle a knot

Using her teeth to pull it taut.

Blue and black, white and gray

A tube of glue for a rainy day

A nimble thumb, the smell of rose

A mended sock for happy toes

 

A lemon cookie, a mug of tea

A grandmother’s hug, just for me.

What do you do when they sing “Happy Birthday?”

What do you do when they’re singing happy birthday? How about when, even though we do it every year, they still don’t know whose name to sing first, and the third line is a mash up of Christina, Marisa, and some jokester uncle’s “Stinkybutts” addition to make the kiddies smile? What do you do, when you’re opening presents, and it’s one gift card after another, like you asked for, but you still have to act surprised and delighted?

My family insists on having a birthday dinner every year. It’s subdued by the fact that my sister Marisa’s birthday is the day before mine, so at our joint celebration dinner the attention is split between us. However, it’s still way more attention than I want.

I really just don’t like my birthday. Why do we have to celebrate being born? I prefer when my friends and I just go out for dinner. At least then we all get something out of it. And they never make the waiters sing for me.

My godson and his two older brothers are my saviors, because it’s always acceptable to leave a dinner early to play with the kids—as long as their parents say it’s okay. They don’t care if it’s your birthday as long as they can plunk along on the piano with you and play superheroes. I love ditching all birthday responsibilities to play with the Barbies my mom digs out of the closet. Kids are easy.

Kids don’t make me feel the need to escape and be alone. I guess it’s because they don’t expect much out of you, but still (unless they’re bratty or too young) treat you like a respectable person. My cousins especially are fun to be with, and they always amaze me with how smart they are for their ages.

I also like them because no one else spends as much time with them at parties as I do. People always eventually get tired of them and want to go back to talking with the grown ups, but I prefer chilling with the kiddies, so eventually I get them all to myself.

What is it about kids, and certain other people, that negates the “I need to be alone” factor for me (and presumably other introverts)? I naturally always like time to myself, but with most people it’s like a countdown timer to “I can’t stand this anymore.” With kids, my boyfriend, my best friend, and my sister, the timer seems to be put on hold. I could hang out with them forever, singularly, without ever feeling the need to run. Perhaps I’ll need to be alone, but I never need to run.

I think it’s acceptance. I know they all accept me for who I am, so I don’t need to hide anything or pretend to be something I’m not. Knowing I can act like myself around them means I don’t have to leave them to act like myself. And that’s really what being alone means for me—being myself.