25


I've talked recently about the importance of marking the years, about how important things happen to us all the time, whether we realize it or not. I've tried to mark some of them here, with birthday bucket lists and year end reviews.

And yet, my birthday always sneaks up on me. This is the way it's always been. My birthday tends to fall on Labor Day weekend, which made it hard to have a party growing up because my friends' families had their own plans. And one of my best friends had her birthday the following week, so she'd have her party that following weekend. My parents weren't the type to be on top of those kinds of things anyway. Then, I spent 4 of my birthdays in Blacksburg, which I celebrated with new friends and colleagues, but not with my family, which felt strange.

And, you know, I've seen a lot of the people I wanted to see after coming back to Texas in the last couple of weeks. It feels silly to say, well, now it's my birthday, so let's do that all over again.

25 feels like it's important, a quarter of a century. It feels round and whole and present. To say it aloud feels strange. 25. Like I should be somewhere by now. Where that is, I don't know.

I never was one of those people with a plan. I mean, I've always known what I wanted, and those things haven't significantly changed since childhood. I've wanted to be a writer. I've wanted a beautiful, inspiring home. I've wanted space, and I've wanted people who love me, whom I love dearly, in my life. Some of these things I've done, I have. Some I'm still working on. The dreams have always been there, but the plan never was. I never thought, oh, I'll be married by this point. I never had a wedding planned out. Maybe this is good. I never had a career mapped. I never did the math. Math and numbers aren't my strong suit, you see. I'm really good at dreaming, not as good at pinning dreams down, wrestling them into squares and boxes. That feels sad in a way, trying to corral a free and shapeless thing. And yet, how can one hope to materialize those dreams if they are made of smoke and air?

I think I've gotten off track somewhere in the writing of this thing. But then, that isn't unusual for me.

What it comes down to is that today I turn 25 and it feels significant to me, all of the sudden, though I can't reasonably explain why, since I had never loaded it (consciously) with significance before I came to it. I feel pressure to get somewhere in this year, to tip into the latter half of my twenties with a plan, with concrete dreams. Or perhaps simply to live more hopefully, more presently, to work to live, to get out there and beat this life with a wooden mallet into a shape that is beautiful and recognizable and worthy of at least my own admiration.

I told a friend of mine recently that I felt there was a lot of ground to cross before I reached 30, and I didn't see how much of it would happen, and she said, look at how much has happened in the last five years. And it's true! I moved across the country twice. I graduated from college and got into and graduated from a graduate program. I started and ended a long term relationship. And plenty of smaller stuff in between.

Plans or no plans, I'm taking these two thoughts–that life should be lived more fully, and that birthdays should be better celebrated, to celebrate and mark the passing of time–and I'm rolling with them. I'm conducting #birthdayweek, during which I will do at least one small, lovely thing every day of this, my birthday week.

How do you feel about your birthday, and how do you celebrate, dear reader?

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