I turned 22 last Monday morning.
I wondered for weeks beforehand what I'd buy myself for this landmark, what Last Doll-type item would transition me from Birthdays to The Day Every Year That I Was Once Born. A veil? A dramatic haircut? Something that wasn't a present.
Chuckle at my solemnity, go ahead, smile knowingly at the unearned age I am loading onto myself, but it really feels as though I have been projected into ageless space. Up until now, I savored every birthday, waited for them in the morning, planned them, felt them, smelled them coming. When I turned nineteen, I felt nineteen. Eighteen scurried off immediately upon my waking. When I turned six, I felt six. When I turned fourteen, I unfortunately felt fourteen, and it felt uuuuuugly.
I've always been very uncomfortable about pictures of myself, and shied away from them being taken unless I was smeared in sweaty stage makeup or had at least one fist in my mouth. If there is a picture of me looking directly at the camera, I'm usually grimacing, or guffawing, or smiling and popping my hands.
It's embarrassing, but I practice (and often) the habit of bringing pictures of myself up onto the computer screen. I stare at myself, getting close to the image, looking at my face, at my teeth, at my eyes. At all of them together. I wonder where I am, in there.
If you friend me on Facebook, you'll notice that I am grimacing like an overexcited baboon in a good number of the photos tagged of me. Do you all feel comfortable in your own skin? I certainly haven't, up until recently. Up until the last few months.
This February fourteenth I smelled coming as usual, but it didn't smell like a birthday. It just smelled like a day. This confused me. I've always anticipated my birthday for weeks beforehand, self-importantly glowing at the piles of red and pink cellophane and the candy cropping up in grocery stores towards the end of January. I've always picked and taken home a birthday shirt each year, and laid it out on the chair next to my bed, I've waited for balloons to show up in my room early the next morning, and daydreamed of cheese enchiladas and chicken chimis from Los Hermanos until arriving there at five pm to avoid the date rush, and I've expected twice the birthday messages than your average person receives throughout the day because my birthday is on such a miserable, lovable holiday.
Last Monday morning, it was Valentine's Day again, my birthday.
And I woke up, and instead of feeling twenty-two, I suddenly just felt like me.
Twenty-one didn't scurry off into the recesses of learned lessons, but it also didn't do a flashy dance in the front of my mind like it's been doing for the last year.
And that was that.
And that morning, I decided to buy myself something that would remind me how comfortable I gratefully feel with myself.
And something that would remind me of who I was when I was 22.
(what I ended up purchasing for myself was a chronicling of me, feeling like myself. At 22.)
(a huge thanks to Justin Hackworth, the most genuine human being one ever met, for shooting me, looking like myself, at 22.)
best plan ever, here.