41. Today I (and my super awesome twin, Dr. Sissy,) turn 41.
Forty FREAKING one.
One of my
asshole acquaintances younger friends said I am just celebrating the 20th anniversary of my 21st birthday.
Oh my damn.
It’s been 20 years since my 21st birthday.
And hey! Ya know what – when I think about it like that, maybe I should feel pretty damn good about things… I have figured a thing or two out (ok, maybe just the one,) in the 20 years that have passed since Dr Sissy and I sampled every sketchy-ass “birthday shot” that the fine establishments of Boulder had to offer before taking turns holding each other’s hair back at different times over the next two days. (#wondertwinpowers)
That got me to thinking, how IS 21 different than 41? Sometimes I feel EXACTLY like the girl who stood on the bar to kiss the buffalo with her sister on her 21st birthday, and not a day older…. and sometimes I am possessed by a cranky old lady barking at my husband to plug in my heating pad because I slept wrong the night before and “OY! MY BACK!”
Even at 41, I still hear the call of the Taco Bell drive thru when I have a shitty day at work… “Come Keri… get in line Keri… Nachos Bell Grande are the answer Keri. And a GIANT Mountain Dew.”
But they aren’t the answer… unless the question is “what is going to give you heartburn and make your damn pants not fit over your ass?” And people – let’s acknowledge that is NEVER the question. (I love you Taco Bell…. 4eva. But you do me so, SO wrong.)
41 year old Keri WANTS to slam endless quantities of coffee drinks, all day and night, like her 21 year old self did. 21 year old Keri practically lived at THE BEST coffee shop EVER (I also love you 4eva, Paris on the Platte, RIP,) working there in the early mornings, and then camping out on a stool at the bar all evening long while Dr Sissy worked her shifts. Then heading back to the single gal condo and sleeping peacefully, NBD. 41 year old Keri just told her coworker today that she has to “watch her caffeine any time after noon because otherwise I will be up all night.” What, the actual F**k, universe? How does that happen? Now that I am a wife and a mom and have more on my plate than ever – NOW I have to limit my intake of the sweet nectar of energy and decency that is coffee, or risk being up watching Copper Skillet infomercials during the few hours my schedule actually allows me to sleep? Damn you, 41.
21 year old Keri was ensconced in her perfect, walkable urban ‘hood, living on delicious (horrible) Big Bites and Hostess cupcakes, going to shows and showing off fresh ink while downing house shots at PS lounge….
Remembering all of that is amazing. But not the whole story. Nope… not at all.
21 year old Keri was freshly mugged, flat broke, back and forth dating two guys- neither of whom was right for her, and couldn’t get the air pockets in her bread to even out in culinary school (which is “rustic” now, but was “wrong” back then.) She was angry and lost and a little lonely.
I was 21 when I was diagnosed with MS. (Talk about angry and lost… whoa nelly.)
21 year old Keri had some shit going on. 21 year old Keri walked through fire.
21 was actually a major pivot for me – and it had nothing to do with the ability to order a drink.
And the things that happened that year set me on the path toward where I sit writing this now, in my dimly lit kitchen, about to get up and replace the blankets my son has no doubt kicked off, and fill the dog’s water, and kiss The Mr goodnight as he sleeps… it was 21 that set it all in motion, really.
Andplusalso, if you look hard enough, the best parts of that young woman are still right here, along with 20 years of hard fought understanding that have come along since then. 21 year old Keri buzzed around in her Jeep with the windows down and the music up. 41 year old Keri does the same. 21 year old Keri loved lingering and laughing over long tex-mex meals with her family, and that is exactly how 41 year old Keri is celebrating her birthday this evening.
21 year old Keri made bad jokes when she was nervous (and when she was not,) enjoyed looking at the mountains way more than spending time in them, cried whenever she heard Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Colorado Christmas,” missed her twin sister living(part time) in Indy like crazy, and was so damn grateful for every step she took, every sight she saw… every awful, wonderful perfect moment she got….
And you know what? Ditto all of that for 41 year old Keri.
So maybe my not-so-jerky friend was right – happy 20th anniversary of my 21st birthday indeed.
(And to you too, Dr Sissy – without you I am only half an egg. muah.)