Reflections on the Occasion of My 25th Birthday

I celebrated my 25th birthday this week. It is probably the first birthday that I have actually felt my age because for the past 6 or 7 years, I have felt older than I really am. I suppose it’s because I got married young and had to deal with insurance and rent and budgets when most people my age were still nostalgically watching the Disney channel and sneaking drinks at a party. There were many times these past couple of years that I’ve thought, “What? I’m only 2_?” So today, at last, 25 feels like it fits.

This birthday also held a sense of wonder. I have lived for a quarter of a century. Since I teach about different eras in British Literature, I often feel small and insignificant compared to those time spans, yet they also provide a sense of rhythm in thinking about time. 25 put me on the map in regards to time. This is the last of the “I can finally‚Ķ” milestones, and it marks a quarter of one of the significant ways we tell time.

So on my lunch break Wednesday, I became a little sentimental, and unapologetically, I post those sentiments here.

What have I seen in my 25 years?
Rose-colored palettes on the horizon
Ear to ear grins
Water higher than my wheels during summer flash floods
My mom in the mirror
Stacks of books-to-be-read next to my bed
My baby brothers becoming men
Friends driving away in a U-haul
Friends waving as we drive away in a U-haul
The Arkansas forests
Millions of bats leave their Congress Ave. bed in search of breakfast

What have I felt in my 25 years?
Tugs on my head as my mom French braids my hair
Puppy paws on my feet
Tear drops on my cheeks
A needle imprinting a tree on my shoulder
Bear hugs from my cousins
Butterflies on my wedding day
The sharp temperature drop of a rainstorm on a Hungarian summer day
Sunburns on my nose
The brick-road jostling in the car in downtown Fort Worth

What have I heard in my 25 years?
My younger brother belting Phil Wickham and Alicia Keys through the bedroom wall
My dad strumming “Hotel California” on his guitar
My mom’s morning song
The Grease soundtrack
My dad’s, and now my, coffee grinder in the wee hours of the morning
My husband’s native tongue on Sunday afternoons
My brothers’ bickering turn into laughing
My name called at graduation
“Just as I Am” in acoustic, electric, and a capella

What have I smelled in my 25 years?
Freshly cut grass on Saturday mornings
The cooking leather in my first car in July
The singeing of my carpet as I forgot to unplug my curling iron
Axe body spray as I walked the halls of my teenage home
Sweat on my cheer uniform
My husband’s lingering cologne as I do laundry
Cinnamon in the fall
The rite of passage scent of gasoline on my shoe
Each of my grandpa’s distinct aftershave

What have I tasted in my 25 years?
My mom’s spaghetti
Christmas sugar cookie frosting
Years of cantaloupe and bacon grease at Nanny and Pop’s
Sweet tea and Cheez-its at Nana and Pawpaw’s
Vinegar that time I talked back
Chai and scones at the little house-turned-coffehouse in Searcy
Mountains of pancakes and rivers of syrup every Sunday morning
Fire-cooked ghoulash and cappuccinos in a friend’s backyard
Breakfast tacos in the car

What have I feared in my 25 years?
The words, “Wait until your dad gets home.”
The dark–in my childhood bedroom, in my adult heart
Not being seen
God’s goodness stopping at me
Not being able to buy groceries
Burning the cake in the oven
Disappointing the important and unimportant in my world
People realizing my incompetence

What have I hoped for in my 25 years?
An evening at home alone
Going out to eat after church
People in my home–permanently and temporarily
My voice to be heard
A lifelong love
Being able to sleep in “the loft” and watch TV until 10
Meaning in my work
Justice in my small story
My enemy’s demise
Wholeness midst the shards around me
Getting a scholarship for college
Grace toward me, toward others
Stories everywhere around me