I Am 23 Going on 24

Sung to the tune of “The Sound of Music”, of course.

I know I just wrote a post, and now I’m posting again, but that’s kind of what I do. And maybe someday someone will pay me to do it if I come up with a fancy job title.

Laura A. Freymiller: Psychiatrist for the Human Condition.

We’ll see.

Anyway, my birthday is on Saturday.

If you couldn’t tell, I love my birthday, and I love making a really big deal about it. Maybe it comes from being a middle child. Most days I was satisfied with taking the backseat, literally and figuratively, but when March 11 rolled around… man that was my day.

The first birthday I remember, we had just moved to Indiana. I woke up from a nap and there were a bunch of strangers in the house. I was cranky at first (as anyone who has made the mistake of waking me from a nap can attest) but then people started giving me presents. So I decided it was okay.

Since then I’ve had a lot of great birthdays: from the lamb-shaped funfetti cakes of yore to the free beer and balloon courtesy of that one birthday club in Madison (can’t remember the name…).

The past few years have been a bit rocky to say the least. I graduated, I went through the worlds longest and stupidest break up (DON’T DATE PEOPLE WHO ARE TWENTY-TWO AND IDIOTS), and moved from state to state and job to job with the intention and tenacity of a Laura-shaped pinball.

But, you know, for all that I’m really happy.

I’m in a job that I enjoy with people that I love. I have time and space to read and write as much as I want. I get to explore the greatest city in the world (COME AT ME, BRUH) and tomorrow I’m going to jump into the Pacific Ocean.

It started, as most things in my adult life did, in Australia. I was about to turn twenty-one and felt the need to do something momentous. (Come to think of it, I was going through a break-up back then, too…) So, with the encouragement and accompaniment of a friend, I went to the hotel’s pool and jumped in fully-clothed at midnight.

And it became a tradition. My senior year, I jumped into the good old Cannon River (with a piece of human trash, but we’re all young once). Last year I went alone to a pond not far from our apartment in Fitchburg. It was cold and I forgot to wear socks.

I felt at the time, trapped: in my life, in an emotionally abusive friendship, in the Midwest, and I made the promise to myself: this year a pond, next year the Pacific Ocean.

My life thus far, for all of its precious inane twenty-four years, has been a series of disasters and miracles, monsters and saints, and on the whole I cannot help but feel lucky.

I am lucky that I met a kid four years ago, and lucky that I fell in love, lucky that he broke my heart and my sense of self so that now I can begin again the process of creating myself.

I am lucky that one day as a child I picked up The Lord of the Rings, lucky that I read it during some of the worst times of my childhood, lucky that its words inspired me to become a writer.

I am lucky that I have depression. Not because having depression makes me special or deep or any of the romanticizing and misunderstanding that goes into our conception of mental health, but lucky because my experience with it has made me grateful for every second that I am still alive.

I make such a big deal about my birthday, because I feel every day is a gift, and every year that passes is another success story for me. However much a mess it has been, I am still alive.

I am alive to pursue my goals, whether as small as jumping into the Pacific Ocean or as all-consuming as making the world a better place. And I am lucky.

Thank you for being in my life. As always, I am sending my love.

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