Next week, I turn 20. To be honest, I don’t really give a shit about 20. I’m the baby of my clique, which means — while most of my friends will be able to drink (legally) in the States after we return from our respective abroad programs next January — I’ll be back to using a fake ID for six more months. To answer your question: No. I don’t find it depressing/pathetic that I’ve conceptualized every birthday for the past five years in terms of how close/far it was to my twenty-first. I cannot wait to not have to hold my breath a little every time I illicitly enter a bar or club. It’s not about being able to drink. Full disclosure: we haven’t had any issues procuring alcohol since our freshman year in high school, and besides, I’m not at all a big drinker. It’s about not feeling like a fucking imbecile when I’m out in the City — about being able to have fun without worrying about the fact that the bouncer might question my being 24 in state of Texas. So, yes, I’m STOKED to turn twenty-one…next summer. And not that stoked to turn one-year-fewer-than-twenty-one this summer. I do, however, always get kind of gooey and sentimental in the weeks leading up to July 14th. I’ve had a pretty charmed 20 years; cool friends, cool parents, a cool brother, and plenty of cool, hilarious, happy, and wonderful memories to accompany them. So, here they are (in vaguely chronological order): my top 20 memories from the last 20 years:
1. The day my brother was born.
Yup, I remember it. I was four years old, and I was pissed that A) he wasn’t a girl and B) I had to leave the pre-K Christmas pageant early to meet him. But my mom assured me he was chill. She said I’d love him. I fucking hate when she’s right.
2. My aunt’s wedding.
She’s helped look after me all my life. She’s the second most beautiful woman I know (love you, Mom). Watching her get married to a guy deserving of her was outrageously special.
3. Michaela’s first pube.
…which she unveiled to her closest friends at a sleepover in fourth grade. The rest of us, having yet to grow a single pube of our own, were so fascinated by it that our conversation about it continued in chapel later that week. A girl next to us overhead the discussion. Desperate to confirm the riveting Pube Rumor, she confronted the Pube-Bearer right before communion: “So… I hear you have a pube.” I can’t make this shit up.
4. My day I got the hot pink Razr phone.
If I could’ve married it, I would’ve. I’m pretty sure I teared up when the salesperson handed it over. And then, right as we walked out onto the concrete, I dropped it. The paint on the upper right corner chipped. I fell to my knees. It was my first heartbreak.
5. The moment I realized my oversized pre-pubescent nipples had turned into full-fledged, training bra-deserving AA-cups.
I ran to seek confirmation from my mother, and she immediately took me to Infinity on Madison Avenue, where we picked out three glorified crop tops that would contain my gargantuan sixth-grade boobs until I graduated to underwire.
6. My first make out.
He was my best friend’s cousin and we were obsessed with each other. He asked to kiss me at the beginning of Iron Man, and we went at it for the next two hours. It was awesome.
7. Moving back home.
In eighth grade, my family transferred to Denver — where my dad’s business was at the time — with the intention of staying there until I graduated. But we belong in the City. After eight months spending virtually every other weekend in New York, we decided it wasn’t working. While I’d grown to really like the life we’d made in Colorado, where I belonged was never a question. New York is where my life is. It’s where I grew up, and where I was lucky enough to find friends that, after two years spent away from them in college, I think I can say with certainty I’ll have for-fucking-ever. It’s where I learned to think. It’s where I plan to raise my own kids (Yeah, yeah, I know: I’m still a baby. But I think about these things.). It’s where — with a few short-term hiatuses — I hope my life will always be.
8. Studying in Spain.
I spent Fall of my sophomore year in high school in Barcelona. It’s a beautiful city, where I met beautiful people.
9. My sophomore year house party.
We thought we were such badasses. Chic, American Apparel canvas backpacking-wearing, froyo-eating degenerates, really. My parents were away for a night, and they trusted that I’d refrain from inviting a hundred of only my closest friends over in their absence. They were wrong. We paid way too much for not nearly enough alcohol, and still, two people threw up in my shower and several more in the kitchen sink. Around midnight, I got so overwhelmed that I got up on the dining room table and started screaming that the cops were coming. They never came, and my parents never found out (until I confessed to my mom two years later, cuz like I said, I’m a badass).
10. Getting bitch slapped at Ray’s Pizza on Amsterdam.
It was 3a.m. on New Year’s Eve of sophomore year. A woman, who’d been throwing us an incredible amount of shade from the moment our intoxicated asses walked through the door, thought I “tried to touch” her friend. So, naturally, she slap-punched me across the face. She got kicked out, and we got free ‘za. It was pretty awesome.
11. Getting my first fake ID taken away.
We tried to order mojitos at a Mexican restaurant in the Meatpacking District. When the waiter confiscated our incredibly fake IDs and gave them to his manager, I cried. I thought I wasn’t going to get into college. I still think the incident might come back to haunt me if I ever decide to run for President.
12. …Getting into college.
I applied Early Decision to my first-choice school. I didn’t think I was going to get in, but if I did, it meant that I’d be done with the hellish application process just in time for winter break, and that I’d be off to Williams (no, not fucking William and Mary and no, definitely not Roger Williams) in the Fall. The decisions were set to go live at 8p.m. on December 15th, an hour before the Christmas Formal — which is a weirdly huge deal for the seniors who are in charge of organizing it — started. Call me corny (‘cause I fully am), but I still get the chills when I think about reading “Congratulations!” on my screen. I cried, my parents cried, my grandma cried, my brother cried, and my best friend cried. My greatest accomplishment. It was unreal.
13. Senior spring break.
We spent five days in the Bahamas with kids from almost every City private school. There was a booze cruise involved, where the captain poured us what, in retrospect, we’re all fairly certain was cough syrup. We slept a total of maybe 20 hours — including daily disco naps — over the course of five days. We came back burnt, exhausted, and very dehydrated.
14. Returning to the stage.
I acted quite a bit when I was younger (I even spent three summers at Stagedoor Manor, otherwise known as the performing arts camp that inspired the film Camp), but I slid off the theatre scene after my freshman year in high school. I decided to try out for Cabaret senior year, and I actually got a pretty good part (the endearing and irresistibly adorable Herr Schultz, of course). Being back onstage was a blast.
We rode a party bus out to Catherine’s house in East Hampton, where we crushed Veuve and fried chicken with our dates. One of them woke up under a coffee table, and several slept face-down on the concrete surrounding the pool. It was a top night.
16. Losing my virginity.
17. The first time my brother asked me for “girl advice.”
It came out of nowhere. “She wants to do homework with me tomorrow even though we’re not in any of the same classes, and she randomly liked one of my old profile pictures today… what do you think?”
18. Meeting Kristin Wiig at LAX.
She laughed at my joke. It was perfect.
19. Writing a piece for Thought Catalog.
It was about why I find it pathetic that not all college students consider themselves feminists, and I watched as it got shared over 2,000 times on Facebook. Young women across the country really resonated with what I had to say. That was special.
20. Finding friends in college that make me feel stupid for ever thinking I might not.
You’ve been good to me, New York. Here’s to our first 20 years together.