Today, March 17th 2009, is my 19th birthday.
I happen to believe that birthdays start with the night when the clock strikes midnight. Actually, scratch that. Birthdays are the culmination of an entire year of living and growing. Well, my night represented my year well. By 9 o’clock I’d gone from happy to sad to pissed to bored to apathetic to nervous to content and back to uncaring. Yet somehow, somewhere in there, the turmoil of the night had begun to brew. 11 o’clock came about and I was finally leaving rehearsal. I was upset but wasn’t going to let an unknown apprehension prevent me from accomplishing what I needed to. That is, I needed to dry my jeans and put clothes away.
I placed my jeans in the dryer and decided I needed to sit down to clear my mind. Therefore, I sat on the steps leading to the basement of Gallagher hall. No one came to find me and I increasingly lost control of my emotions. My eyes began to glisten and my mind focused on thoughts of leaving. I needed to be further removed, farther away from the pressures and implications of the world. I left my steps to go down the stairs. I found myself underneath the stairwell hidden from all else. I felt the need to cry but didn’t know why. My heart thumped painfully in my chest. I knew not what to do. The clock struck twelve; I sang happy birthday to myself.
Tears welled but few dropped. I heaved, searching for breath. Steadying myself I examined my surroundings. There was a pipe offering firemen an extension to connect their house, a box full of hall decorations once used, a floor spotted with gum, and a door to the basement behind me. And to my right was a penny face up. The face was marred with a blighted green blemish. I pocketed it, wondering of its luck. I got up and went back up the stairs. My jeans were not quite done.
I decided to purchase myself a birthday feast: Twix and a 20oz Mt. Dew. The snack led me back towards my room. I reached the door but heard voices within. I attempted to make my retreat, but the voices overcame me. Friends merrily celebrated my birth and I could only stare blankly and mumble thanks. They knew something was off but abandoned me anyways.
I went to remove my jeans from the dryer. I was losing control. My heart was zealously beating blood through my veins. My thoughts raced. I made myself fold the jeans. I returned to my room and placed the jeans in a drawer. Then, I escaped.
I bolted out of the hall and walked down the mall towards the east side of campus. My pace steadily increased as my gasps for breath became more pronounced. I reached 24th street and I began to jog. By the time I hit the baseball fields I was in a full out sprint. I made it to the benches of Morrison Field and stopped. I didn’t know why. I placed myself on a bench and allowed myself to calm down. I didn’t know what I was doing but my mind wandered to thoughts on the meaning of life. Per usual, no conclusion was made. I began to feel silly. Only in movies and novels do people actually run away. I’m nineteen and I have friends and family. I am lucky. So, I got back up.
My trip back was slower but more enjoyable. There was a sense of involuntary relief. I gaily danced my way back to the dorm. On my way, I met a black cat. Somehow we crossed paths. I gave pause to ponder the implications of the meeting then continued.
I reached the circular bench outside Gallagher’s prison like walls, but couldn’t yet go in. I called my friend Cj. He agreed to meet outside. During the twenty minutes I waited my brother called. I began to stoically pace, and by the time I worked up the courage to enter back into the world of this school, Cj made his exit to the outside. We sat together for a while. His childlike sincerity made me feel safe again. I smiled at him as we got up. He gave me a playful shove and we walked to the door. The goofball had forgotten his shoes.
My life is a lucky penny new and blemished. Things are clearly well enough- enough to bring a smile- but will a blackness cross my path as I move into tomorrow? Cj and I didn’t heed the thought; we went back to our lives.