Why Does A Birthday Always Have to be ‘Happy’?
My 21st birthday is today and I experienced an onslaught of sadness starting on Thursday night when I remembered that my birthday was coming. I thought that homesickness might be the genesis for my bad mood, however, that is such a foreign emotion to me that I quickly dismissed it. The extent of my homesickness has been reserved for Taco Bell and 24 hour grocery stores thus far because there is nothing that I love more than being away from home.
With that said, it was odd that last night I got upset at the prospect of my upcoming birthday. 21 is undoubtedly a big birthday in the United States but here in Spain, the drinking age is 18 (and I took advantage of that as soon as I stepped foot on my British Airways flight and they offered me wine every hour on the hour). There is no need to celebrate big here but bigger than that, I’m somewhere unfamiliar without even flatmates to celebrate with.
I was surprised this morning when the boys came into my room with excitement that only children can possess at such an early hour. They
their mom got me a surprisingly stylish jacket as gift and that helped to perk me up. It’s hard to be sad when two small people are telling you happy birthday every 5 minutes and trying to come to a consensus on what age qualifies as old (Pablo decided that it’s 40 but ‘you have to be 39 first so you’re not old yet’).
I’ve decided to go to a ballet performance of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein next Wednesday and I treated myself to Taco Bell to curb my sadness but this birthday has been lackluster. The Taco Bell was mediocre at best, I missed two trains trying to get home, Topshop didn’t have the sweatshirt or the body suit that I’ve been dying to buy. Basically, everything that could go wrong did.
When I picked the boys up from school yesterday, Jorge asked was I excited for my birthday and I gave him a shrug and told him not really. He looked at me like I swore (a later post is coming on the boys’ familiarity with American swear words, which they know waaaayyy better than I would like them to).
He gave me some serious side eye and said “Because?” (They don’t understand the difference between ‘why’ and ‘because’ in English just yet.) I said “well…because I don’t have any plans. I don’t know. It’s not that big of a deal.” He shook his head and said “But it’s your birthday!” And then ran ahead, abandoning the conversation and probably deeming me a hopeless birthday hater. I wish that I could identify my feelings. Maybe it is homesickness. Although I love my new little Spanish family, I’m still in a place where I can’t understand more than half of the conversation at dinner. In all fairness, they’ve been great but I’ve only known them for 2 weeks. My previous birthdays have always been spent with family and/or friends and I miss the comfort of being able to do nothing on my birthday with option of doing something (complicated right?).
It feels silly to be upset without reason, especially because I woke up in one of the most popular cities in the world today. So, in conclusion, I’m thankful that I’ve lived to see another year, especially when my grandmother didn’t.
I’m thankful for the people that have reached out to me, and to those that will, to wish me a happy birthday even if it has been the exact opposite of happy. I’m incredibly thankful for my friend, Aitza, who distracted me on the phone for two hours last night so that I didn’t cry myself to sleep. I’ll fight anyone that says that friends that you meet on the Internet are less genuine than any others.
I’m thankful for the opportunities and experiences that my 20th year brought me and even in my less than stellar birthday mood, I’m anxious for what my 21st year will bring.
Here are some of my favorite moments, in no specific order, from my 20 year old life. Cheers to 21! I’m hopeful.
Thank you for the birthday wishes! Here is my birthday song for this year: