I don't know what it is about birthdays, but they always strike me as odd events. When you are little they are whirlwinds of excitement and cake, and, because at that age it's still acceptable, you can have a theme. I remember one favorite birthday when my parents had a woman from the Struggledelphia Zoo come in with cages full of live animals and I spent the day joyously chasing roosters around my yard with a boa constrictor decorating my shoulders a la Britney Spears. I also got to hold a hedgehog. Best day ever. But, as we grow older and wiser, we tend to shy away from parties with matching Aladdin napkins and plates, and are more attracted to parties with matching tequila shots.Certainly last year, my 21st birthday, was celebrated with the theme of "shwasted". I fondly recall proudly stepping into a Strugglevania liquor store and presenting the clerk with every form of id in my wallet, including my Russian student visa and my library card. She was unimpressed, but she gave me my first legally purchased alcohol ever. I guess Cyrillic wasn't her best subject.
Some might say that 22 is a massive let down from the birthdays which have come before it. It doesn't have the wide eyed wonder of my zootastic event or my Disney themed pizza party. I don't feel like a responsible part of the country like I did at 18 with my new-found ability to vote and buy pornographic materials (anyone else think it's weird that those two go together? Don't blame Clinton. It's not his fault. Damn you Supreme Court!). I have been legally drinking for a year (sorry, liver) and so the bloom is sort of off that rose. So do I have to look forward to as I celebrate my departure from the womb? The world being what it is, and me being a young college grad fighting not to be nauseous when observing the job market, honestly I think there are times when we all wish we could just hop back in.
But I'm choosing to take a more positive approach, and view this birthday as a step forward. Hope and change, right? I mean, that's what I voted for. In my power yoga class (which I take twice a week with my parents. Say it with me: Never been cool) a middle aged father of two with huge tattoos and a shiny bald head guides us through an hour of intense poses and stretches in a room heated to 100 degrees. While my usual response to his voice goes something along the lines of "oh, for the love of god stop talking and get to the part where we lie down on the ground because my arms are about the EXPLODE", he did say something the other day that made me think. When discussing pain, like the pain that shoots down my legs in downward dog as I scowl at my feet and sweat, he said that what pain really is is change. We feel the pain of changing when do something different, and difficult as the pain can be to stand, it's that pain that makes us something better.
I'm all for self improvement. Especially now that I can legally drink my way through it. So as painful as growing older may be, I say, bring it on. Another year of struggle, coming up.
Leah Franqui is a fairly interesting person/director/writer/reader/eater/drinker. She likes ugly dogs and dislikes her hair in the morning. She's a sucker for environmental causes and plays hardball with deals on chewing gum. She is a struggle.