Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Quarter of a Century

I always thought that turning 25 meant finally being held accountable for my decisions.  I thought I would float into myself, into the real world, and that somehow the sum of my years would be reflected in my sense of purpose.  I set one specific goal to reach before my birthday, and despite reaching it, my purpose still somehow stood me up like a bad blind date.  Despite so many things changing - friends leaving, arriving, becoming, among many others - some things luckily haven't changed at all. Things like..

Me burning a waffle, staining a dress, and forgetting to wear deodorant all on the morning of my birthday...


My turning twelve every year by presenting my guests with loot bags...


My family being incredibly sweet for the twenty-fifth consecutive year, finding my favorite cake and most beautiful roses...



My mom's gifts summarizing me in the funniest (and best) way...


And our unbridled desire to recreate the Titanic scene immediately upon stepping onto my friend's yacht...(well, our desire to be idiots, I guess, generally speaking)


When I was little, Tallinn was a magical place full of whimsical traditions, and birthdays were no exception.   My mom would hide chocolates in my shoes, little toys in my pockets, and trinkets under my pillow.  The element of surprise was synonymous with magic, and I remember my heart racing all day, never knowing what I’d find next.  Though my wonderful family still enforces this even now (my mom snuck into my apartment to decorate it while I was out), and I in turn carry the tradition forward by torturing my loved ones,  I think I’ve found a greater magic in the people that surround me.

My absolute favorite part about having birthday parties is seeing everyone fit together to form a hilarious mosaic.  Each of my friends belongs to her very own category of people, and together, they make the cutest, most incongruous sight.  One is talking about the marathon she just ran while another is squeezing her toes inside her uncomfortable new Miu Mius, while another folds origami frogs from wrapping paper, while another complains about the Master’s thesis she just defended. Regardless, not a moment goes by when they’re not laughing at something, and then the best part of the night happens: everyone wants to get together again. 

I don't know what sicko photographer asked everyone to show what they got in their loot bags but I only became aware of this shot the next day...almost as cheesy as women in their mid-twenties open loot bags, actually...

 This year I received birthday wishes from the unlikeliest of people: people across the ocean, people whom I haven’t spoken to in almost a decade and people that I was sure had forgotten me.  The fact that a near-stranger took a moment from their life to extend into mine, that someone remembered, that someone took the time to write something beyond the two words that would’ve easily sufficed…it’s absolutely touching.  It’s also overwhelming to be thought of by people I never see – maybe I never quite grasped the idea of object permanence (I was probably learning about magic when y’all were covering that chapter.)  We spend so much time trying to look indestructible and avoiding looking naïve- we don’t tell someone we like them, for example, or show that we care because caring means being vulnerable, and vulnerability means you’re a wuss. Birthdays, I find, part those clouds for just a moment and suddenly we’re allowed to tell a stranger we love them, if only through a series of zeros and ones sent from one screen to another. 

   
Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned in these twenty five years is that love is like the inside of a kaleidoscope, constantly reassembling into new and exciting shapes, exploding from so many different sources – a cat, a man, a girl, a cupcake – it’s there if you let it be. In that way, maybe it’s not about finding purpose, but about decorating your pursuit of it. And if it took me twenty-five years to figure that out, well that’s a quarter of a century well spent. 



4 comments:

  1. You are such a fox!

    And.

    I wish I had've been sitting at that birthday dinner with you!

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  2. I wish you were there too! And by fox you mean sneaky and full of rabies, yes?

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  3. I loved this post!!! It was so beautifully written...

    And I totally laughed out (at work) loud at the caption under the group picture... I've received so many compliments on my gift btw ;)

    I'm so glad you had the birthday you deserved!!! Miss you and see you very soon - sorry I've been MIA but work got crazy and I'm only now coming up for air... Farmer's market soon!!

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  4. "love is like the inside of a kaleidoscope, constantly reassembling into new and exciting shapes, exploding from so many different sources – a cat, a man, a girl, a cupcake – it’s there if you let it be. In that way, maybe it’s not about finding purpose, but about decorating your pursuit of it."

    beautifully said. happy birthday :)

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