There comes a tepid unease with celebrating myself for merely existing; even more so when others do it for me. Thank you very much, I think to myself, but the real heroes here are my average regard for personal health and safety, along with this lottery of birth that has led me to live in relatively stable countries where healthcare is abundant. Those are the secrets to staying alive where mortality rates in more developed countries are higher than they’ve ever been in the entirety of human history. But again, thank you.
It all just feels rather hollow. A supposedly special day comes and goes, with nothing to impart apart from a general reminder to everyone that I’m still alive and a gentle reminder to myself that I have now lost the potential to be remembered for doing something special at the age of __. The only saviour of such shallow celebrations are the gifts I receive, and even those number few thanks to my unenviable but hardly unreliable talent in losing friends and alienating strangers.
I was eight years old when I last had a birthday party; a movie, then a meal at McDonald’s. Though it sounds like a cheap date, I still remember the elation of seeing my friends arrive at the cinema, one after the other, bringing with them smiles, presents, cards, myrrh, frankincense, etc. After the movie (Pokemon, if you must know), we headed to the nearest McDonald’s where garish peach and turquoise colour schemes accented stained cream walls. Luckily, they readied balloons around our little designated party area to distract us from the horrendous décor. The hunger pangs of children began calling out to the staff in the form of whiny pre-pubescent voices, and they satisfied us by bringing our food. We feasted on burgers and French fries, the smell of reused oil and floor cleaner wafting among us, perfuming our happiness. It was probably the last time a birthday had mattered as it should.
And so, we come, to the twenty first of these trivial celebrations. I turn twenty one in barely a fortnight, and in spite of my previous apathy to the date, a feeling - slight, but enough to irritate - has been nagging at me in recent months. I’m not sure what to make of it.
Perhaps it's the fact that even though this date has meant so little for so long, it feels as if I might actually be looking forward to it for once (if only to escape being categorised in the 16-20 age group when filling out forms). There’s a certain resonance with dates that I’ve grown accustomed to ignoring, and though I’m sure the day will come and pass like all others do, this arbitrary age for adulthood feels somewhat monumental. I might not celebrate it, but it's quite nice to know that my heart isn't entirely made of stone. An odd sensation, this optimism. It's just as if I was turning eight all over again.
Also, work marriage family death taxes.