nineteen feels old, but it also feels triumphant.
i think i’m happy.
not in a temporary i’m-happy-because-my-favorite-artist-just-dropped-a-new-album kind of way (though if that’s where you are, that’s okay), but in a i think i’m experiencing raw and genuine happiness for the first time since maybe age thirteen and i’m mildly terrified but extremely grateful for it kind of way. also, before i continue, this letter will be best enjoyed while listening to this playlist (in order, if you can).
if there’s one thing that you should know about me, it’s that i love people and colors and music. i guess it’s only fitting that i made a playlist for this past year and titled it a hex code. the color for eighteen is #EEB284 rgb(238,178,132). it’s a shade of peach bordering on pastel orange—if that makes any sense to you at all. it’s a combination of a few different hexcodes extracted from pictures of the sunrises and sunsets i have on my phone. eighteen starts on a bitter note, but it ends with a song written by someone i know from high school called talk that (by sedona). i don’t think you’ll need a track by track explanation if you listen to all the lyrics enough.
i’m learning to find love and joy in really crunchy autumn leaves and in the sunrises/sunsets i get to see here and in pretty shades of blue and in warm hugs from kind friends. i’m overwhelmed with newfound love and joy and hope but in the best way possible. lately all of that extra stuff has just been pouring out of me in the form of journal entries and collages of doodles and handmade gifts for friends and new songs. caren, one of my professors, reminds me that what’s beautiful is that instead of rejecting all of this extra stuff that i’m feeling, i’m growing to contain all of it.
i am nineteen today.
it’s a statement that feels weird to say because honestly i never saw myself making it past age seventeen, so the fact that i’m here to keep taking baby steps forwards feels monumental on its own. but nineteen… it just feels surreal.
it’s my first birthday away from home—or, maybe, my first one at home—and it’s been the best one i’ve ever had. i started my day at 00:00 in the student media center on campus, surrounded by my city on a hill press family. at exactly 00:00, my editor tells the whole room that it’s my birthday. at a little past 01:00 i get driven back to my dorm. at about 01:10 i start to brush my teeth, and as i’m leaving the bathroom i run into two friends who’ve just stepped out of the elevator.
for the past few weeks my favorite color has been yellow—and i didn’t think anyone would remember that tiny detail about me but it turns out a few people did, because at a quarter past 1 a.m. i’m standing in a friend’s room, fighting back tears, with a yellow gift bag—containing mostly yellow-colored gifts—in my hands.
i woke up at 04:30 am naturally and went out to just stare at the stars while listening to mozart (a friend of mine put me onto spotify’s mozart for babies playlist, and honestly… you should listen to it some day).
right now, at 21:00 (or 9 p.m., if the 24-hour format isn’t your friend), my desk is covered with gifts from new friends: cookies & chocolates & books & sketchbooks & colored pencils & rainbow ribbons & handwritten cards. i didn’t ask for any of it; and i think what’s really beautiful about it is that for once i didn’t have to.
i’ve been trying to articulate just what it feels like to feel things like love and happiness in this raw and saturated form for the first time in a long time, and i don’t know if i can. it feels like a breath of fresh air, like a happy acoustic song on a bright sunday morning, like a warm toasted bagel with butter with a cup of hot chocolate after only ever having lukewarm milk.
birthdays have historically been like lukewarm milk to me, but today was beautiful, and i am infinitely grateful for the beautiful people around me that made today happen. i don’t usually do much for my birthday—and by all accounts i honestly did not do much for my birthday today either, but there’s beauty in letting life take you where it needs you to go on days like this.
birthdays are hard. they’ve always been hard for me. i think a lot of it had to do with the fact that i was still with my parents, confined to a house that never really felt like a home. but this feels like home, and today i’ve been here for myself, and my friends have been here for me too.
i think i’d call that a day well spent.
i hope today was as good for you as it was for me, but if not, that’s okay too. the sun will rise again, and i will be here with you.