Today I turn 26

Today I’m turning 26.

26 years of outgrown jeans, misplaced bobby pins and cracked nail polish. 26 years of laughing at [really] lame jokes and tripping over my shoelaces. Old email conversations and closet purging. Forgetting my keys and splurging on party shoes and finding a banana in my closet (for real. So, so nasty).

When I was 8 years old, I pictured my life in the future. Married at 22 (my lucky number). Two kids, 1 horse, 1 dog. I was a veterinarian.

When I was 15, I pictured it again. Still married at 22. Kids optional. No horse. 1 dog. I was a teacher.

I graduated high school and suddenly the future was now and I was not enrolled in veterinary school or teacher’s college and I no longer saw myself getting married at 22 (I mean, that was 4 years away and I couldn’t even find a pair of pants that I liked and that fit properly let alone a man with the same criteria). I had long since gotten over my love of horses and no longer imagined myself cooking lunch in the country. The dog was still there. The dog will always be there.

I went to school. I changed programs and dropped courses and met people who changed my life and opinions and read books about ideas that fascinated me. I drank beer out of red cups and laughed until night turned to morning.

22 came and went. I likely danced right through midnight and hugged my friends and went for a hungover family dinner. It was probably beautiful.

I walked across the stage at my insanely hot convocation in late June. I looked out at the sea of people applauding and smiling and I saw a future of opportunity and success. I would travel. I would write. I would fall crazy in love with a guy in the city. We would buy that dog and have that home. I would be happy and successful and barely taste the feeling of failure.

I jumped on planes and I came back. I met people and lost people. I got a million random jobs and quit them all. I moved to the city and cried myself to sleep because I realized I wasn’t that special. I was broke and scared and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I felt like I was lost and I felt like I was failing. I tried to picture my future and for the first time in my life, I couldn’t.

So, I gave up trying and instead, focused on learning the fine art of curling my hair with a straightener. I volunteered at food banks and wrote letters to my Grandma. I went to concerts and discovered the joy of Sunday afternoon manicures. And life simply happened.

Today I am 26. I live in a tiny apartment with water pressure so bad I occasionally have to rinse my hair by pouring cups of water over my head (and now you know why my hair is always in that bun, people). I forget to pay my credit card bill essentially every single month and have locked myself out of my apartment an alarming number of times. I am an English Major and still can’t figure out the its vs. it’s conundrum.

Today I am 26 and my life is nothing like I pictured at 8 years old. At 15. Even at 23.

Today I am 26 and my life is the fucking best.

I have found love in places I never expected it to matter. In my work. In my colleagues. In the cheese and crackers I eat way too often. In friendships with people I knew in the third grade. In friendships with people I met only months ago.

Today I am 26. I celebrated with my friends and family and a single candle stuck in a cheeseball (cheeseball > cake). I drank a lot of wine and hugged a lot of people and loved my life a lot. And yes, I cried. And I’m not sure if they were tears of joy or a simple fear of growing up or simply because crying seems to be my body’s natural response to essentially everything that happens in my life.

Today I looked back at my 8-year old self. My 18-year old self. I thought about the time we smoked on the dock and lay there talking about our hopes and fears until the sun came up. I thought about lighting sparklers and dancing in the snow. I thought about the time I literally FELL ASLEEP while I was giving someone a weirdly long hug because I guess I was simply that tired. I thought about my cheeseball, obviously.

I thought about every moment that had led up to this one and I felt grateful and happy. I didn’t try to picture my life at 28. At 30 and beyond. I knew it would be full of laughs and tears and misunderstood conversations. I knew it would be full of potato chips. I knew it would be fun, and I knew it would be hard, and I knew the only thing I could do was to let it happen,

So. Here we go. I finally found a pair of jeans that fit just the way they should. I suppose the rest is just the cherry on top.

9 Comments

  1. Jo Gale
    January 13, 2015

    Blaire Waldorf?

  2. Theresa Ibbetson
    January 13, 2015

    hristina may not have been able to come already

  3. BeccaLewis
    January 13, 2015

    I love this an incredible amount! You go girl 🙂

  4. Taylor Brown
    January 14, 2015

    Mackenzie

  5. Leah McWatters
    January 14, 2015

    Morgan Allinson

  6. Leah McWatters
    January 14, 2015

    Emily Moorhouse Emma Ruth Houston

  7. Emma Ruth Houston
    January 14, 2015

    Oh GOD! My 26th is coming up, kill me. Leah McWatters

  8. Emma Ruth Houston
    January 14, 2015

    Awww, good article though Leah McWatters thanks leelee.

  9. Dave Twigg
    January 21, 2015

    If fate is kind and talent and ability matters one whit, you will hopefully become (or have already become) a writer!

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