I’m sitting in the children’s section of Barnes and Nobel, staring at a wall with caricatures of trees and woodland creatures. It is a wall I have known since I was able to walk, but one I never really looked at. The only real differences now are the change of state, store, and I have been walking for a while.
It is my nineteenth birthday.
But it doesn’t feel like it. Every other year, my birthday has been spent with friends and family, and though the house and the people and the place have differed occasionally, I have always been celebrated, most recently against my will. Now there is no family, only a few friends that demand I be celebrated with cupcakes and a dinner. There are phone calls and birthday texts and even a nice post on instagram, but it doesn’t feel real. It just feels like any other day. (Maybe that is what it means to become an adult??? A different conversation for a different day). The only thing to sober me from that thought is this:
Today is the start of my last year as a teenager.
That is fucking terrifying.
I’ve spent the better part of the past few years facing the reality of mortality, and beating myself up because I wasn’t a prodigy and I haven’t done anything extraordinarily remarkable with my life. I’ve wallowed in the simple statement that “youth is wasted on the young.”
So, I return to where I am now: Three hours since I started wandering around this bookstore, booted feet strategically tucked underneath me in a low sitting bench, my neck aching from how long I have been staring at this wall, wishing my youth would return to me.
For now, I am still a teen.
For now, I have a family I adore.
For now, I am supported and loved, even if not by my own self.
For now, my shortcomings are appreciated.
For now, I am alive.
And isn’t that all we really have in the first place?
January 13, 2019