15 years ago

Prompt: The night of your 21st birthday 

Christ, I can’t even remember. And not because I was drunk–I was LDS at the time. Engaged, actually. I probably did something with my friends and family. I believe I have the pictures in a scrapbook–John gave me a bouquet of yellow roses that morning before he left for work. I think we had a family dinner, and my mom made my favorite cake, and then we sat on the couch and I opened presents surrounded by my loved ones.

American culture has a weird obsession with the 21st birthday, which is especially strange when you consider that 18 is when we’re all legally adults. That seems like a much more meaningful birthday to ask about–how did you celebrate the night you officially became an adult?

Twenty-one is just the legal drinking age. Eighteen is when we’re legal to sign contracts and be responsible for ourselves–vote in elections, join the military, die for the government, get married, buy a house, all that shit.

Actually, depending on the state and the situation, an individual may have access to some of the aforementioned adult activities as early as 16.

But yeah, in most of America, it’s totally legal to buy a house, get married, and die for your country at an age when you can’t even legally drink at housewarmings, weddings, or wakes.

It’s been 15 years since I turned 21. There was nothing transformative about that birthday.

When I was 22, I had my first birthday as a wife.

When I was 23, I had my first birthday as a mother.

When I was 24, I had my first birthday without my mother.

I spent my 26th birthday in the first home I ever owned.

I spent my 30th birthday heartbroken and alone, surrounded by friends. I stopped trying to have birthday parties after that–started focusing just on a family day, on time with John.

Twenty-one is such a silly age to focus on, to prioritize.


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