In one week and a few hours, I will be eighteen. On the whole, this is quite exciting: birthday! Presents! Cake! A small part of me is less excited though. I think it's because this birthday is going to be a letting go of my childhood in varying degrees of literalness.
When I was little - I guess about ten or twelve - I used to invent the parties I would have for my three coming of age birthdays. The first coming of age birthday is at sixteen. At that age, I thought, one is not exactly grown up, but not a child either (which is not so far off from the truth, actually). My sixteenth birthday party was going to be like an old fashioned 'coming out' party. That never happened, but I did have a sixteenth birthday party, which seems to be good going for me.
My seventeenth birthday was my wizard's coming of age: I've never heard of seventeen being a significant birthday outside of Harry Potter. My seventeenth birthday party was going to be Harry Potter themed, with everyone dressed up as one of the characters. When I got to seventeen, I had friends who believed the Harry Potter books were wrong and I was in the middle of Matric exams, trying to pretend there was no such thing as a social life. It was a good birthday, but there certainly wasn't a party.
My eighteenth was going to be one of those affairs in high heels and cocktail dresses (although I didn't know what the dresses were called at the time). That is not going to happen. I have a small enough number of birthday party-invitable friends to begin with. Adding the fact that most of them are too far away to come anyway, I'd do well to get five or six people together. Besides that, my family is in an almost constant state of varying degrees of turmoil this year. It's sometimes a challenge to get supper cooked before bedtime. I don't think a party is really going to happen.
In a sense, that's the end of my childhood dreams about adulthood. For some reason - probably because of the amounts of fantasy I consume - I never considered my twenty-first to be all that significant. I'm sorry that it won't happen the way I planned it out all those years back, but I think I've grown up enough to accept it. There are other good things. There is next year. I don't even own a cocktail dress and finding one would have been stressful in the best of circumstances. For me, that attitude epitomises growing up. It's been easier and harder than I thought. The parts about understanding money and looking out for other people came easily. The parts about deciding what to do with the money and who to look out for, I'm still struggling with.
It's a big ol' mixed up world. I don't think changing a digit in my age will change much, but it's giving me an opportunity to look back. I have grown up (though I'm not finished). I miss irresponsible childhood, but the richer taste of responsiblity is more satisfying. One season is drawing to a close, but I'm sure the next will be just as beautiful.