Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Nineteen and Counting

Note: Post written on November 10th but not published until the following day, because complications.

It's here.
Nineteen is never a number I looked forward too. I knew I'd have high school years, and they'd end at eighteen, and after that would come my twenties. Now I just look at this number and think, "What am I supposed to do with you?" The more I think about it, the more I'm sure I'd rather stay eighteen for the rest of my life. The last year has been rough socially and emotionally, but I like the number. I like the technicalities of being an adult while still having one foot in the teen world. After eighteen there's really nothing to shoot for. Maybe I'll just be transaged.
"Ma'am, how old are you?" "I'm a transaged individual identifying as eighteen." "Uh huh, cause you look eighty four."
Birthdays hit me hard. I haven't wanted one since fifteen because for some reason I saw sixteen as the great dividing number. I keep thinking I'll stop celebrating them as a sign of personal protest, but I keep doing it as an excuse to gather my friends together. My school friends in high school were pathetic layabouts and my birthday was one of the few times a year I could get them to plan a social activity. But I've got a better crowd now. That's one of the things I love about college. Everyone's always looking for a party. Just spread the word and offer food.
Which is fabulous if you're capable of eating food. I made grand plans to take my friends out for Indian food, and later invite dozens of people for brownies, but my stomach had other ideas. In addition to all this stuff:

My roommates gave me stomach flu. Diagnosis pending, but I'm pretty sure I have what they had.
So for the first time in nineteen years I am sick on my birthday.
One of my friends put "Wish Erica Smith a happy birthday" signs all around the building. Which is pretty useful when the chocolate pineapple delivery guy wants to know where you live. I've got so much junk food strewn about my room and all I can put in my body is ginger ale and crackers. Other than answering the door, I've spent my entire evening laying in bed, watching either TV or the backs of my eyelids.
Nineteen isn't a threshold birthday like eighteen. I'm a non smoker so there's nothing for me to do. The only other threshold I'm aware of for nineteen is it's the minimum age for a girl to be an LDS missionary. My first friend has already left and I've got a few more on the way. But I don't plan on leaving until after winter semester so I've got time to kill. Girls serve for eighteen months, and with my timing, I'll miss two birthdays. Mother's Day and Christmas are the only holidays where we get to call/skype home. 70% of missions are served outside the US, so this is definitely the last birthday I'll get to talk with my family and quite possibly the last one I spend in the country for the next three years.
And I spent it sleeping and vomiting.
That, combined with the fact that I was having another birthday in the first place, put me in a bad mood. I broke down crying while listening to 100 Years to Live, one of the age progression songs I grew obsessed with my sixteenth year. 
But today also reminded me why we have birthdays. Not to celebrate being "ex-bodymates with your mom", as one of my well wishers put it, but to celebrate being alive in a world of other people. So many people came through for me today. My only healthy roommate gave me a hug and let me cry on her shoulder, my extended family called me up, and, thanks to the advertisements, I had complete strangers walking up to me and wishing me a happy birthday.
I'm a big believer in our best days being the "up and down" ones. Maybe today wasn't the party I wanted, maybe I won't get a good, traditional birthday until I'm twenty two, but I had friends today. And I'm grateful for that.
Now for the question I ponder with as every chronological and school year comes to a close. Am I still young, and how long will I keep up my blog? Right now the answers are yes and yes. Nineteen is still a teenager. I'm still passionate about youth and fiery when it comes to ageism. so until I'm shipped off to Tennessee or Thailand for my mission, you'll keep hearing from me.
And at that point I'll probably start a mission blog because writing is a really hard habit to break.
Here's to one more year.

Also, last year on my birthday I blogged about my Growing Up Girl dolls. My grandma started giving them to me consistently at age five, so for the last few years, she's been filling in the years she missed. Here's the complete set.


  1. You've wondered whether you should continue writing your blog. I think you should. I accidentally found it while looking for a photo to match a post I put on my blog ... on the topic of "forever young." I'm older than you, a Canadian high school English teacher, but you taught me something on your blog. I hadn't known about partial abortions and people who survived. To be honest, I hate church and politics mixed together and so I have completely ignored the issue of abortion. Now I have a two month old grand daughter and I seem to care. I look at her and think of beautiful babies who didn't get to be born. I hadn't heard of Gianna Jessen and did some research. I thought. And all because of your blog. Don't stop. You don't know which other strangers you'll influence. And by the way, you're a good writer.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. It means a lot to me to know my writing has impact.

  2. I agree with this anonymous high school English teacher! You know your stuff-- you are a talented writer!! "You never know how much good you do". True story, my niece!!

  3. Hey Erica,

    I'm a teen from Singapore and I just want to say your blog is amazing. Came here after stumbling on the "worthless" post and I'm very heartened by it. You're a talented writer- witty, hilarious yet inspiring. Keep shining for Christ :)