For me, Thanksgiving means more than turkey, family and colonialism. It’s also a built-in societal reminder that my birthday is coming up, sometimes even coinciding exactly with Thanksgiving Day. And as my parents will never cease to remind me with their favourite joke, Oct. 11, 1993 was one of those days: I was their seven-pound turkey. (Yeah, that razor wit is genetic.)
This year my birthday doesn’t fall on Thanksgiving Day, but it is significant for another reason. Those of you counting at home may have noticed that this year marks my twentieth. On October 11, 2013, I will have been alive for 20 years. Yessiree, leaving my teenage years and entering my third decade of life. The big two-oh. Growing up.
A bona fide adult.
Or at least, that’s what people tell me, as I sit here in the office with smears on my glasses, a bracelet knotted on my wrist and no shoes on my feet because I’ve once again forgotten them at home because I rollerblade here.
Is there some expectation for this to change, once I officially outgrow my teenage-hood? Those around me who I’ve witnessed take the jump into their 20’s have all faced it very grimly. It weighed on them for days, sometimes weeks before the big day, as they lamented leaving their youth behind. With my own entrance to adulthood fast approaching, I feel like I’ve missed the anxiety-laden boat.
Am I supposed to be relishing my last days as a teenager? What does that entail, because if it means staying out late, you can count me out - I am super sleepy.
Do I have to do something impulsive and rebellious? I’m not even really sure how to rebel against my parents. Maybe by inefficiently stacking the dish rack, or not carpooling?
I guess I’ve never been very good at being a teenager. Aside of course from the drinking, cursing and terrible music. Unless I’m confusing teenagers with sailors.
But with the apparently momentous end of this hormonal era, I keep trying to find the meaning in this birthday that everyone tells me is there. The last time I got really excited for a birthday was my twelfth, because I was allowed to ride the bigger go-karts at the local track. The last time I got really nervous for a birthday was my sixth, because I didn’t know if my school friend and neighbourhood friend would get along at my party.
My twentieth birthday brings neither the joys of a new motorway nor the stress of hosting two (2) people for a belligerent, cake-fuelled afternoon. Adulthood doesn’t spring itself on a person. It sneaks on, layer by layer. Each layer covers the ones underneath.
But doesn’t get rid of them.
I am just as much composed of my 10-year-old self as I am my 18-year-old self. Sure, they’re buried deeper and don’t show as much, but my 19-year-old self would be hollow without them.
When my twentieth rolls around, soon as it may, it will fit snugly into place. I’m not leaving behind my teenage years, they’re here to greet my 20’s. And 30’s, and 50’s and so on.
And thank goodness, because I’ve still got some hell to raise.