of birthdays past and present

I’ve always been into birthdays – specifically, um, mine. In middle school, I would start counting down with the new year, checking the days off in a makeshift timeline penciled into the last pages of my FWMS planner. There was a lot to look forward to back then: streamers on your locker, screams down the hallways, even, one year, a card, as Hallmark-y as they come, with the name of a boy I would probably still leave for Dave (just kidding! kind of…) printed in straight, deliberate cursive beneath the saccharin message. Said card was said to originate with My Crush, but it was delivered by My Friend, Caitlyn, and, to this day, I still believe she wrote it.

At least, 90% of me believes she wrote it – the other 10% is all, birthday spirit! Crazy-assed awesome things happen on birthdays! And they do, they really do – for me, at least. All through college, my three best high school friends would make their way up and down the Eastern seaboard to come see me in Philadelphia on the second weekend in February, and we would shop and eat and drink (twice illegally and twice legally) in the most wonderful fashion.

Senior year brought a situation so funny we’re still telling the story and glasses of champagne at what felt like a swanky place downtown (now my neighborhood bar) and a perfect brunch and an afternoon spent dozing in my ridiculously comfortable queen-sized bed, watching the best made-for-TV movie ever. But Junior year was possibly my favorite – aside from my parents and brothers and a few friends who were studying abroad, I felt like we crammed my whole world into a tiny Northern Liberties BYO, every single person that I loved gathered around a long table piled high with plates of tangled pasta. I was the happiest girl in the world that night, despite having an obviously gay boyfriend and spending the majority of the post 2 a.m. hours hanging out with a toilet. It was magical, and I mean that without any sarcasm whatsoever (to the chagrin of my increasingly sarcastic and cynical self.)

But now, I’m getting older, to the point where another year isn’t necessarily something to celebrate. I’m not ashamed or anxious about my age at all – I mean, how can I be, when people consistently think I’m 19? – I have no desire to slow down the clock, and yet…I understand that the days when I spent all January aching and waiting for February 12th are long gone. Looking back, I even see that the past 25 years of birthdays have been a little ridiculous. As the Sex & the City girls tell their friend looking to make her wedding into a week-long affair,  “You get a day, Charlotte.” And, in the same vein, I know I can’t expect the world to shut down in honor of the day I entered it. I’m ready to act my age and party maturely and make a toast to a new year and leave it at that.

That was my plan, at least. I figured last year was my last big hurrah, sleepover style, an homage to birthdays past in honor of twenty-five years of birthday excess. Next year, I’ll keep it small and simple, I vowed, while cleaning up the solo cups and picking at leftover cupcakes.

And here we are now, nearly at 26, and my plan is…well, was, coming to pass. I was keeping it small, planning to hang out with Dave, making no plans at all really, until one friend wanted to come down from New York. It snowballed from there – of course I’m coming! Meg said, as if there was never any doubt, even when she was injured and incapable of moving without crutches – and now I have a total of five of my BFFs overlapping this weekend, ready to drink some champagne and dine out in the city and maybe fit some shopping in too.

I’m the tiniest bit embarassed – who still does this? every year? – but mostly excited.

Like they say: you can take the girl out of middle school, but you can never really take the middle schooler out of the girl, now can you?


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