Do Something Different #8: Today is My 18th Birthday

Yet I don’t know exactly how I should feel.

Oh, well.  I’ll keep you posted ;).

Last night, around the time I went to bed, I kind of laid there like I usually did, remembering things that happened at school, what I was watching on TV, and other stuff.   I was also sick with a dryish cold at the time and waiting for the Nyquil to bonk me on the head and make me fall asleep.  But as I laid on my back, a thought raced across my mind.

I’m going to be eighteen tomorrow.  Holy—

I’d been telling others at school it was my birthday tomorrow, but it just didn’t feel the same as knowing you were going to be eighteen as you were in bed trying to fall asleep.  It just wasn’t.  These were the last hours I was going to spend as a human being that could contest crimes she did were as a juvenile delinquent.  These were the last hours I was going to spend as a girl who couldn’t order things of a TV ad that said “Must be 18 years or older to call”.

As far as U.S. law is concerned, I was officially going to be an adult.  All my years of being a child, I presumed, were long and gone.

Or so I thought.

For my birthday party this year, I decided to invite a few friends to join me at a roller skating rink.  At first, I thought it would be a great idea—trying something new, daring to be different, laugh at my failures.   I thought my bare experience skating at 5 was going to make the party a piece of cake.

How wrong I was.

All types of people and birthday parties were being held.  The rink was dark, but the bass was booming on certain tracks.  Some of the younger kids, not even half my age, could have been legit professionals.  Not one time, in all the slipping and tripping I did, did I fall due to those skates.  Yet nearly every time my feet felt like they would give way on the linoleum floor like disobedient dogs, I got nervous.  I hated how I felt out of control and kept slipping all over the place, and cried like a baby multiple times.   An 18-year-old baby that should’ve learned how to skate before she came here, because she thought wrong in thinking she would be an instant expert.  For a good long while I was frustrated that I wasn’t getting the hang of it, and frustrated more at the fact that I was crying at my birthday, and even more frustrated that I was crying and that I didn’t feel good.

But my friends didn’t mind, and I’m very glad they didn’t.  Most of them were familiar with ice skating, and so roller skating was a bit of a different animal.  It was a challenge for all of us, and I, the girl who has been dubbed “sensitive” and who has self-proclaimed “an aspiring novelist who wears her heart on her sleeve”, took it to heart.

Like I’ve done with nearly everything in life for the past 18 years.  That is who I am, and as much as I may have thought otherwise, I wouldn’t change that for the world.

In the midst of all my blubbering and clinging to the rails and walls whenever I could, I met some of the kindest people one could ever meet.  They each had different teaching methods about how to skate, which made things a bit confusing, but by the end of the day, I can say that I had gotten better at skating significantly.  Not to the point of becoming an expert, but enough to the point where I could almost skate by myself very slowly on the carpeted floor above the rink.

I tried something different, but I didn’t become an expert at it the first time.  I got better at it thanks to my friends and the helpful people that I met today, and that’s what really mattered.

After that I returned home, walked into my room, and I stood in silence.  In addition to the ear buds I asked for my birthday was an acoustic guitar waiting to be opened in a cardboard box along with a DVD full of instructions and a bunch of other attachments.  I was not expecting such a gift, as I already had a banjo I tinkered with occasionally, an old electric MIDI piano (and family piano in the living room), and a recorder (the wind instrument, not the digital device).  I mainly use the MIDI keyboard to write music most of the time,  so adding this big, black beauty with a very mysterious, bluesy tone was not what I was expecting at all.  This isn’t to say, however, I rejected it.  In the first few minutes I held it, I zipped my sore thumb up and across the strings, just like I would do with my banjo.

I held new thoughts and feelings about the instrument I once claimed was “overrrated”, “cliched”.  Meeting it face-to-face might have been the best thing for a wandering composer trying out new things.

Welcome to the family, my new acoustic guitar.  Let’s hope I can make my hands strong enough to dominate your strings.  If I cannot, then so be it.

And so, here I am, at the computer, typing to you, having consumed Mexican take-out with my parents, strummed a guitar with my right hand and thumb pressing down all the strings, and skating at a skate rink—all within a marvelous 18th birthday.

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