Strange thing, time. It weighs most on those who have it least. Nothing is lighter than being young with the world on your shoulder; it gives you a feeling of possibility so seductive, you know there must be something more important you could be doing than studying for exams or working at your job.
I can see myself now, the afternoon it all began. My mother lying in the maternity ward, constantly asking the baby in her tummy to calm down and have patience; after all, I wasn’t due for another couple of weeks. I didn’t care though, and squirmed my way out of from the darkness which was my mother’s bosom, entering the world of light and happiness.
It may not have happened like that, and I suppose it all began about 9 months earlier when my parents–
21 years have passed since July 15, 1991, and as I look back, I’m now worse for wear. Well, that’s not exactly true either, since I have moments where I look at old people and am suddenly filled with the positivity of youth, but I feel pretty old. Perhaps it’s related to our constant shift in relative environment: despite a fourth-year student at University and currently experiencing the “I’m…graduating…” syndrome, in just another 365 days I’ll be the bottom of the ladder once more.
Not sure what to make of it, graduating that is. I can still clearly remember the day when I attended orientation and made my first friend (shout out to Wilson Xu/Xu Weishun!), super excited about the next four years of my pseudo-independence. Now there’s one year left. Only one. It’s shocking how the time flies and I can’t really imagine myself not at UVa anymore. For better or for worse, time demands that I move on to the next phase of my life, and it’s probably for the better, since if time weren’t so strict, I’d probably still be a 7-year-old. Darn.
Do I have any plans for this special day? Not entirely. I’m not one to really ask for anything on my birth date despite having a pretty extensive wishlist comprised mainly of video games. It feels unfair to ask for my parents to purchase something for me at this age, even though the occassion calls for more often than not. I’m sure we all remember how in our youth birthday parties were THE THANG! You’d feel horribly upset if anybody in your grade didn’t invite you to their party, and you couldn’t wait to rub your greedy pudgy hands on anything that looked remotely like a box with wrapping paper. As children, we wanted toys and gifts to really show how much people liked us (and anything free is awesome, right?) but would always loathe having to write thank you cards to the 20+ friends but not friends that we had invited.
These events morphed over time, maturing from Chuck E Cheese to Shadowland Laser Tag to expensive dinners/movies. As our bodies grew taller and age continued to increase, our expectations for gifts, as well as our appreciation for our personal birthdays decreased. Even now, though birthdays are still a special event, there’s no extravagant “let’s celebrate my birthday!” parties ever organized. That’s a douche move. All one can hope for is that your close friends plan a surprise party for you. And don’t lie to me, most of us twiddle our thumbs on our days with wishful thinking (granted, college has pretty much spoiled us since basically everyone throws surprise birthday parties all the time).
Regardless, it’s nice to know that people still care about you, even if it’s just a long-lost-elementary-school-friend-that-has-never-contacted-you-in-years that finds it convenient enough to post “happy birthday” on your wall. This constancy of support and love is a treasure of infinite measure and I hope I never squander it.
I’ll dedicate my first official toast of alcohol to all y’all. And perhaps, for the first time, I can sincerely say what sign off all my outbursts and letters as: