I don't normally get overly personal on here, unless you count shrieking at the top of my lungs about my OTPs as personal (which you should, because my OTPs are my life). But it's my birthday. A rather important birthday, for several reasons, and it wouldn't be honest of me not to share the many complex feelings clogging up my heart place.
(Possible trigger warning for peeps not yet ready to talk or think about loss or grief, aka my sisters in suckitude <3)
Today is my twenty-fifth birthday. Twenty-five years ago exactly, my twin brother and I said GOODBYE, CRAMPED WOMBY LIVING QUARTERS, HELLO WORLD and graced Los Angeles with our magnificent presences. (I came out first, of course, because I must always win.) I like to think I immediately quipped, "Phenomenal cosmic power, itty bitty living space" but a) Aladdin came out a year after I was born and b) as a newborn, I wasn't quite on top of my pop culture references, nor the ability to make word sounds with my mouth hole.
Twenty-five. That's a quarter of a century. That is...officially a GROWN UP age. I feel like the universe is playing a practical joke. ME? An adult? Are you sure? Have you thought this through? You know I'm a child, right? Did you see that Aladdin reference? Have you seen me try to tax/car/house/bill/make phone calls to other human beings? Attempt anything that involves other human beings? I'm still only semi competent at getting this mouth hole to do the word sounds. I still can't figure out that whole heartplace malarkey. Are you sure you want me to be one of the grown ups charged with setting this flaming garbage heap we call our planet back on its axis?
Apparently, yes, the universe is sure, because I'm twenty-five today, believe it or not. Time's pretty much the only thing you can't alter. It moves forward, for better and for worse.
Today, April 8th, is the twenty-fifth anniversary of my birth.
Yesterday, April 7th, is the one year anniversary my dad's death.
It's a funny thing, this universe of ours. In the Lumatere Chronicles, one of my favorite series, a character has a saying: Be prepared for the worst, my love, for it lives next door to the best. Which, wow, what a grim little maxim, but damn if the universe doesn't like to prove it again and again. Nothing ever happens cleanly, and all manner of nonsense gets tangled up in these messy heartplaces of ours. I've always loved my birthday, because I'm a self-centered girl, and I like presents and cake and attention. Though weirdly enough, I've never minded sharing it. I used to think few things can bond you like sharing wombspace and/or escaping to Witch Mountain.
|this is exactly what being a twin is like|
But I was wrong. Apparently, few things can bond you like tragedy, because best and worst are very friendly next-door neighbors, and they hand gifts out in pairs. (The bastards.)
The past year sucked. There's no point pretending otherwise, and anyone else who's lost a parent knows exactly how sucky it is. You don't merely move from a present tense parent to a past, losing all the tiny things that make up who they are, but a whole corridor of your identity gets barricaded, too. Parents are your crutches, your shields, your coaches, your grown ups. When you're with them, they're the adult and you're the kid, even if you're pushing twenty-five. Remove that shield and you suddenly learn just how cold it is outside.
I've never lost anyone close to me, so maybe I didn't have calluses in the right place to handle a loss of this magnitude, but when I try to think about how I would have survived my twenty-fourth year without my brother, mom, and friends (which includes all of you--wholeheartedly) (wholeheartplacedly?), I can't figure out how I would have done it. My last birthday stands out as a strange bright spot in a very blurry April, as my brother and I had dinner at my mom's with our cousins and best friends and about thirty Sprinkles cupcakes.
Be prepared for the best, my love, for it often rescues you from the worst.
I'm not a very introspective person, really. I'd much rather engage in an intense analysis of the many layers and facets of Bellarke for hours on end than turn any such in depth study on myself. I'm not a journaler, and I'm not a sharer. I don't do New Years Resolutions or quarterly goals. I just let myself be me, often to disastrous effect, and try very hard not to think on it.
|oh look I got distracted again|
But there's something about cataclysmic life events that really gets to you to think about...well, life. It's a dark sort of birthday, tragedy. It's like I'm both twenty-five years old and one year old today. New Gillian was born unwillingly and prematurely, and she was slapped damn hard by the doctor on her very first day, but I think I'll keep her. She can take shit a lot better than Old Gillian could, mostly because she's had no choice.
There are so many things that happened in my twenty-fourth year I wish I could share with my dad. We watched Gilmore Girls religiously together when I was a teen. The fact that it's coming back, and this year...well, it's both glorious and horrible, really, but I'm also so excited my heart does dangerous little spins whenever I think about reuniting with Lorelai and Rory. We used to watch American Idol together too. Now, it's American Idol's farewell season--last night was its final episode--a nostalgia-soaked beginning and ending all wrapped into one, because the universe, man. What timing.
One of my dad's favorite things was politics. He lived for election season, and I'd give anything to hear his thoughts on our current and sundry political fiascos. It's weird how little things like TV and current events are what you wind up missing the most. They're on par with the things I felt while attending an August wedding, watching a family friend get walked down the aisle by her father. You lose both the big things and the little.
I'm living on my own now. Every time something goes wrong with the cable, my laptop, the wi-fi, hell, even the coffee maker, my first instinct is to call him to fix it like dads do. This year I learned how to fix them on my own like a real adult-shaped, grown-up type, old-ish person, and I hate that I did, but I love that I can. Best and worst, side by side.
These are only a fraction of the sucky and painful, happy and funny thoughts I've got on this, the highest of holidays, the Birth of Gillian. I'm definitely not sharing them to depress you, especially since I know I'm not the only one of my blog readers who's going through the same thing. I'm not sharing to look for sympathy, or even to elicit any "I'm sorry"s or *hugs* (in fact, if you do, I may cry, so don't get too mushy on me). Because honestly, Birthday #25 is promising to be bomb ass. So bomb ass that I'm feeling all Hallmark card-y, or like one of those inspirational needlepoint pillows I've always hated. I've climbed a mountain, weathered a storm, yadda yadda, cliche cliche, nuns are singing, and the forecast is looking rather delightful.
April 7th is a horrid day, yes, but do you know what also happened this year on April 7th? Harry Potter world opened at Universal Studios. HOGWARTS IS HERE TO WELCOME ME HOME. Or I'm here to welcome it home? To my home? Whatever. The point is, HARRY POTTER WORLD. It's super nice of the universe to do me a solid and give me Hogwarts for my twenty-fifth birthday.
April also has the LA Times Book Festival. Friends coming into town. Birthday excursions. A trip to New York. TICKETS TO HAMILTON. The Raven King. And then there's May, the month of BEA, the best part of every year by miles, and Blogger Con where I'm speaking on a PANEL like a PROFESSIONAL ADULT-ESQUE HUMAN, and Captain America, and deep dish pizza and donuts and boozy bookish ladies and all manner of fantabulous things.
And then there's the fact that this year, I'll be buying my own home. BUYING. OWNING. WITH ROOMS AND FLOORS AND DOORS AND EVERYTHING. I won't have my dad to help me pick a place-- he loved to share his opinions, and he had them on everything--but it's also because of him I can get a place at all. Best and worst. The universe is a bitch, and births and deaths come hand in hand.
To once more quote the Lumatere Chronicles and Our Lord and Savior Melina Marchetta: Today, I'm leaning on the side of wonder. Because hey, I'll only be twenty-five for a year. I'm in my mid-twenties (*has a minor quarter-life crisis at the mere thought BUT THAT'S ANOTHER FREAK OUT FOR ANOTHER POST*) . That is scarily adult, but it also comes with a lot of cool freedoms and the chance to really set myself in stone, I guess. There's something awesome about leaving that chaotic, teeming cesspool of uncertainty that constitutes teenage identity and the following "uh...what now?" period of young adulthood. Those twenty-four other years were me trying on a bunch of hats that maybe fit but maybe didn't, and now I get a chance to settle on the one that suits me best.
We millennials. We don't grow up until we're forced, kicking and screaming. Or at least until we weirdly realize, wait a second. I'm kind of...an adult-ish thing-type already, despite the hours a day I spend on tumblr reblogging gifs of Bob Morley emoting.
|OH WHOOPS HOW DID THAT GET THERE|
(I know that was a lot of emotional blathering, but thanks to everyone who read it all, and thanks to you guys for being entirely, constantly awesome. It's been three and a half years since I entered YAlandia. Here's to three and a half more. <3) (And here's to many more years of emotionally charged Bellarke hugs)