Turning 23: A Birthday Retrospective

A good indicator of growing up is having to work on your birthday and not really caring that much.

I turn 23 today, and between dinner and cake I’m heading out to cover the return of our local entertainment series, featuring a percussion quartet. I’m guessing Matt will find a way to entertain what guests we have in the meantime. Honestly, I’m not that worried or bothered — work is work, getting paid is getting paid.

All through high school, birthdays were pretty boring for me. The day hit right in the middle of exams, so I don’t really recall a birthday party from Grade 9 on as everyone was too busy studying.

When I turned 18, my two best friends and I travelled to Ottawa, spending the night at a bar in Hull dancing on a speaker to avoid creepy men and drinking Polar Bear shots. I believe I ate my first McDonald’s hamburger that night.

Turning 19 was fun, if a bit anti-climatic. I worked the morning shift at our campus Harvey’s, then headed out to the campus pub to take my first legal shot of tequila at 3 p.m. I’d been going to bars since that summer with a fake I.D. so it didn’t seem too spectacular. The rest of the night involved a homemade John Stamos cake, many bars, and pizza.

For age 20, I took the train to Waterloo and hung out with the same people from my 19th. This was my last ‘party’ birthday– I bought a fancy shirt, hung out in a bar that smelled like vomit, then took the train home. Apparently I was also really skinny, which I wish I had noticed at the time.

No photos exist of my 21st birthday, which is probably a good thing. Having been working on the campus newspaper, I had logged very little sleep when my friend Michelle took me out for dinner. The server refused to give me a beer because I left my I.D. at home, and I was so exhausted that I giggled hysterically at the cheese dip for a solid 10 minutes. Later that week, my dad visited and took me out for another dinner, thoroughly disappointed because he chose one that didn’t do the awful song-and-dance embarrassment routine.

Last year, turning 22, didn’t really feel like a real birthday. I had been in town for all of three months, and my father visited for the first time. On my birthday, I battled a politician over a misinterpreted statement, conducted an interview with a local magician, then headed home to witness my father meeting my boyfriend. After stuffing us full of food and wine, Dad decided to take us out for wings and beer, which turned into Dad and Matt playing ‘who can eat the hottest food’ while my roommate and I ignored them for our own conversation.

One big reason I’m not that stressed about having to work today is that I feel like it’s my birthday anyway — people are saying it (what did we do without Facebook?), I get cake at work, Dad sent flowers and Matt is scurrying around with something up his sleeve.

The other reason is that we’re heading out to Winnipeg this Saturday to celebrate in style, with a fancy hotel and a real restaurant (and a birthday dress!). If I’m going to grow up, I may as well have a classy birthday.

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