I opened my first Facebook account in August of 2013; This past Friday was my birthday, and it goes without saying that I was utterly unprepared for the flood of Facebook "toasts" to my turning 20.
Birthdays are funny things and take on different meanings at different stages in one's life. Birthdays are days when you're no longer 7.5 but a full 8 years old, and you can finally sit in the front seat of mom's grey minivan. Birthday parties are concepts parents think they can negotiate for good behavior and threaten for pulling your sister's hair. In actuality, they can't, because you will never forgive them for taking away the day when everyone wants to sit next to you, and depriving you from receiving 3 of the same Barbie dolls with Hawaiian Punch Lipsmakers.
Birthdays are days when your boyfriend picks flowers from the neighbor's front lawn and takes you out to a restaurant where you say, "that was the best pasta I ever had," just because you know how long he saved up for it. You get pasta because its your birthday and you're proud to be a lover of carbs.
Birthdays are days when you are sociably obliged to make collages and sentimental gifts for friends. They are days when you can no longer avoid relatives, and you actually have to answer the phone instead of running to the nearest parent with the device shifting between your hands like a hot potato. They are days where Hallmark lists the reasons why it's difficult to be the older sister, and blue checks from Bubbie come in the mail after you specifically said you "didn't" want anything for your Birthday.
They are the days you awake with half-cooked blueberry pancakes,a cup of orange juice, and a pile of 3 squirming kids in your bed. Birthdays start with finding new things that jiggle, wrinkle, and sag, but end with embraces and your husband's encouragement that you've never looked more beautiful.
For my twentieth birthday I did a funny thing. Not only did I refuse to believe that I am no longer a teenager- I refused to believe that I was no longer that dorky, mushroom-cut of a kid, who played mafia at recess, and dug up worms in her backyard.
On July fourth, I spent my birthday picking blueberries in an orchard, visiting chickens, sliding down a fifty ft. slide on a potato sack, doing cartwheels, and dangling from a swing I found tied up to an old tree. When I got back to my host house, I went on my second slide of the day at the neighborhood pool. A line started forming behind me, and I had to share the slide with two other girls about the ages of nine and six. I was older than both of them, combined, yet all that meant to me was that I made a bigger splash.
Over Shabbat, I learned how to ripstick- or rather- how not to ripstick. Ironically, at twenty I discovered my lack of hips. (Hey- my body was made to carry babies, not fashioned to sway alternatively on an unbalanced board!) Despite my steadfast attitude and assertion of peter-pan-hood, I ended up on the concrete, skinned elbows, ankles, and ego. I headed for the kitchen where my friend bandaged me up and praised the fact that I hadn't even cried.
Sitting at the Shabbat table eating the sweet blueberries I had picked the morning before I thought of all my recent attempts of remaining ageless. In these past few weeks alone, I've driven in a batmobile, chased after an ice-cream truck, roller bladed home from work, and sat upside down on the sofa because I missed the way the floor became the ceiling and the feeling of blood filling my head like a vase.
To me, birthdays are meant to reflect the person I've become, think about the life I have left to live, and then do a handstand after eating cake. Trust me, the vomiting will pass, but the feeling that you are only as old as you think you are, will stay as upright as your knobby legs.
Mushroom-cuts build character