Age is opportunity no less, Than youth itself, though in another dress, And as the evening twilight fades away, The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Morituri Salutamus

Today is my 21st birthday.  And apart from it being filled thus far with great food that I have purposefully sought out for myself as well as some great jade earrings, which, again, I purposefully sought out for myself, it has been filled with great thoughts: thoughts of my own, of course, and thoughts which have been inspired by individuals and instances, like the great quote from Mr. HWL which I have spelled out above.  I cannot help but think to myself how very far behind me that awkward and ugly egg I once hatched out of is.  Age is tricky, you see, because some, my mother in particular, would like to argue that I’ve been acting 21 since I was 4.  While I can’t argue with much of this, it is interesting, still, to be perceived as older.  I usually love this and bask in it gloriously, but now I find myself both excited yet shocked.  I am smiling to myself at the thought of my first legal drink, regretfully spending money on a too-expensive bottle of wine I’d probably buy just to say I bought it, and that sort of thing, but another part of me is shaking my fist at the heavens, pleading “WHY!?  Slow it down, Jesus and Zeus and the court of Mt. Olympus!”

But sometimes, ex-poet laureates come around and they pull some tricks out of their back pockets and say LISTEN:

“And as the evening twilight fades away, the sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”

Ok, so my lights are far from burning out, I’m 21, I may, in fact be my brightest, although I’d like to think my brightest is me every day for the next 80 years.  Nevertheless, age is kind of a cooler thing than people assume it to be.  At least past a certain point in life, age means ugliness, death, and the newfound inability to do anything exciting or rewarding.  I am not yet at this point in life and some may say who am I to judge, but believe me, 1) I’m wise beyond my years-we’ve already covered this, and 2) I have a superbly and ridiculously cool mother (oh, have I mentioned this before?), who never ceases to amaze me with her goals, dreams, and endeavors for the future and the present.

So here’s the thing, I’m kind of excited to get older.  I don’t need to skip a year or anything, but I’m pretty excited for this year.  After all if I tried to hold it all back and succeeded, if Zeus and Moses and Buddha were all like “Hm, okay Leah, stay little, that’s cool with us,” I’d be frizzy haired and scared hiding inside my little egg, pleading for it not to break open so I wouldn’t have to face the kids in middle school, even the kids in high school, so I wouldn’t have to speak my mind, or seem sensitive, or seem weird.  And let me tell you guys and gals, trying not to seem weird, especially if you are weird (and I know you’re all secretly weird in some way), is the hardest thing to do.  Wanna see pictures of me trying not to seem weird?  Okay, yeah I didn’t think so.  Because my lips covered in concealer were WAY cooler than my lips tinted red.  But on a serious note, as I get older, more and more people are acquiring knowledge of the real me.  It’s almost to the point where almost every friend I have never knew the Leah from a few years back, the one who didn’t actually exist as her real self.  But now, there’s something different about me, and I have the wonderful gift of years to thank for it.

So I’m 21, I’m in Kathmandu, I’m jumping off a bridge tomorrow, and on Sunday, I’m dying portions of my hair blue.  I’m just being the youth itself, in another dress (Thanks, Sir Longfellow).

-LR

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