My third birthday, of which I remember some vague images and feelings, was at a local Chuck E Cheese. My mom made a cake in the shape of a butterfly, and a few friends (and their parents) were in attendance. Here you can see me with my mom (pregnant with my sister, born 4 months later) and dad.
My mom made me a new pink skirt with suspenders and two matching hair barrettes. I loved them. It was my fifth birthday, and we went roller skating. 3 out of the 5 people in this photo are still in my life – Scarlett, Oldest Friend, and Brian Foster, all of whom (like me) still look like they did in this photo. Brian’s hair is a little darker. Also pictured are Kristina and Megan, preschool friends of mine.
I had a big party for my 16th birthday, and, in going through the photos I have, I found quite a few of all my friends and hardly any of me. Which was just as well, because my face looked like a pizza. I had a great time, though. The shorts in this photo were a size 2, and I sewed the blouse myself. Also pictured are my friend Julia with a mouthful of cake and Laurel, who was about 8. I think I’d just opened a gift, which was a necklace from one of my friends that tragically broke after only a few wearings, but I liked it so much I saved the beads.
Here’s Joey with me on my 21st birthday. I had a big party for the first time since my 16th, and I had an amazing time. I think it was potluck; people brought or made all kinds of food and drinks, and my college ex made my chocolate-raspberry birthday cake. I only have a few photos from the evening, and this one was the best of them. So many of the people I was closest to came to help me celebrate, and I couldn’t have asked for a better 21st. (Also: Holy shit was I skinny.)
Today is my 31st birthday. It was both good and bad: good, because I went to the gym and had a tasty breakfast and a tasty lunch and expect to have a tasty dinner. I’ve found a new drink I enjoy (whiskey sour!) and I have 2 kitties. And Dan’s making me a birthday pie. Bad, because I’m so far away from most of my friends and family, and I’m so far from where I want to be in life. I think I’m hardest on myself during times when I reflect on how much potential I once had. I was 3, and 5, and 16, and 21. Now it’s 10 years later than the last photo, and the only difference between then and now is where I live and who I live with. Sometimes I feel like my relationship with Dan is the only thing I have going for me. I don’t own a house, or a graduate degree; I’ve not gone on nearly as many trips as I expected and I want to be something completely different in my career and I’m still practicing my parenting skills on small felines.
Here’s hoping that, sometime during this next year, the things I want to help move my life forward happen. And that I somehow contract the serenity I need to look back at 3-year-old me and 5-year-old me and 16-year-old me and 21-year-old me and realize that where I am at age 31 really isn’t so bad.