Turning 21

Last year at this time I was feeling very old. I was officially leaving my teenage years and was beginning my third decade of life. Now here I sit at 21 years old and I don’t feel nearly as old as I did a year ago. I can’t quite explain it. On top of that, everyone told me that this was supposed to be one of those landmark or milestone birthdays. Whatever. So I can drink. I’ve had alcohol before today. So I’m able to buy alcohol. I’ve legally bought it before, just not here in the U.S. There just isn’t any drama to this day. Just another birthday, just like every other birthday is just another birthday.

How many people remembered? As far as I can tell, more than when I turned 19 (when I think fewer than 10 people remembered that year) and fewer than when I turned 20 (when it seemed to be marked on every calendar). Of course this year some people have TheFaceBook to help them out. The family back home got me a few CDs (the new Jars and the two newest from Chris Rice). My roommate, looking at my future excursion to Colorado, got me a new Nalgene bottle and a super cool hiking light for a baseball cap. Evidently having one of those will make me the envy of the NCP. Brandon and Tiffany were the only people who remembered at Wesley. This morning during church I got a voice mail from Tasha that was (what else) very excited. There were also some IMs as well as some messages and “pokes” over TheFaceBook. Oh, and last night I was paid a little visit…

First some background information. If you’re a long-time reader you may remember the tradition here at Florida State that I became subject to last year. On your birthday you get thrown into Westcott fountain. Well I happily avoided this my freshman year, there was no way for me to avoid it last year but this year I was (and still am) determined to stay dry.

So this morning at about 1:30 AM (that’s including the time change) Andy, Jason, Kyle, Curtis, and Brandon (and maybe others that I didn’t see, but basically the Kellum Hall crew) came calling at my door. I was in bed but still awake and Scott was out in the common room. They asked Scott if he would help, and he said he would if they could get me out of the bedroom. But Scott knew my plan. You see last year I was taken from my bed at night too with Rob Hodges being the main muscle. Before Rob went in to pick me up he asked if I was wearing anything under the covers. I was and the snatch continued. But this year… well, I think you can figured it out. Andy remembered what Rob said from last year so as he walked in he assumed the worst. This presented a problem for my would-be kidnappers. Fun is fun, but this was no longer fun for them. So after some futile discussions of possible ways around my ploy they gave up and went home.

I did tell them if they could get me during the day I’d go peaceably because it’s too cold here at night (40 degrees) to get dunked. But I’ve got to be honest with you: if I get dunked I’m going to be angry. And not funny ha-ha angry, I mean pissed off angry. You got me last year. That’s enough. It’s a stupid tradition and if one more person tells me that “it’s because we love you” I’m going to show them some tough love of my own if you catch my drift.

The rest of today? Barring a surprise party or something of that nature probably not that much. And I like that. I think I figured out why I don’t like birthdays: all the attention is on me. And I like attention, don’t get me wrong. But I like earning it, and I certainly didn’t earn a birthday. I think the only birthday party where I’ve felt comfortable was when I turned 14 and the party was for me and two other guys. I wasn’t the sole focus. Actually I was the least popular of the three so I probably didn’t even get a third of the focus. And that was good and it’s still one of my favorite birthdays. My 18th birthday I didn’t have a party but I went to youth group that night and spent my birthday with a lot of friends. And yeah, they sang happy birthday and gave me a card but they weren’t there for me, they were there for youth group. I wasn’t the focus. That’s still the only “landmark” birthday I’ve felt as significant and it’s probably because it was done right. Here’s the bottom line: the perfect birthday would be if my friends were to hang out with me so long as it wasn’t something done for me. Something they would have done anyway and they simply included me in it (i.e. last year watching the UConn vs Duke game with Kyle, Andy, and Bob; or even going out to lunch or dinner – something in that vein). Maybe I’m being too picky, but hey, it is my day right?

I’m being a jerk, I know. And I bet at this point most of you are wondering if it’s safe to even wish me a happy birthday. Well, yes it is.

And thank you.

This post is part of an ongoing series of birthday essays. Each year since I began blogging I have written a reflective personal essay on April 3.

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