I woke up the morning of my 19th birthday in a pool of my own sweat and I groaned as I reached for my Advil and a thermometer. Not even 30 seconds after sticking my thermometer under my tongue, It reads back, yelling at me that I have a 101-degree fever. It's -20 degrees outside, and my room is freezing. I stared at the ceiling, asking myself if this is how 19 is going to start, or if it gets better from here.
All day, text after text rolled in, Insta story post after insta post. So many friends and family facetiming me, wishing me a happy birthday, and I am not able to answer them. Staring at a screen for more than 5 minutes at a time this morning made me nauseous. Walking across the street to the health clinic was a trek (one that required three pairs of pants at least). My 19th birthday was not shaping out the way I had hoped it to be.
All of high school, my birthday's were fairly uneventful. I never had too many friends to celebrate with, and I couldn't seem to get the timing of my weird winter birthday to match up with anything fun. Stolen bowling alley shoes, one cupcake with a candle in it, and an ice cream sandwich with the word 'bet' spelled in letter candles (before 'bet' was even a thing) were the ways my birthdays have shaped out in recent years. Of course, my parents always gave me the world on my birthday, year after year, and I couldn't be more appreciative. Being the Aquarius I am, selfishly, I expected more out of my friends — attention for my birthday I never quite got.
I thought everything in college was just supposed to be better. Halloween, New Years, and my birthday — things that had always been pretty awful for me were now suddenly and magically going to be better! Truth be told, I did have some plans for today, or I at least could have made some. Too bad a polar vortex and a high-grade fever (and possibly strep?) Had to get in the way.
This post isn't really about my birthday, rather to show what happens when you expect things. Year after year, up until now, I was always craving a little extra love on my birthday that I never really got. This year, more people than ever have been messaging me all day — I have almost 50 unread messages (which never happens!), several missed calls, and people who have been running up to me all day wanting to give me a hug (in which I responded by pointing to my throat and waving my hands frantically at them to signal that I am very sick and they should not come close).
My fever broke late this afternoon, and the meds I'm on are starting to kick in. All in all, this was no way to start a new year of life, but in a way, maybe it was. Maybe laying bed all day, staring at the ceiling, with my phone pinging with endless love and support is a good way to start. A simple way to start. Maybe birthdays, and New Years, and all of the other holidays that are filled with empty expectations and illusions should really be stripped down and simplified. Maybe we don't need fancy plans and celebrations to make us feel good. Maybe we just need to take a breather, and hear from the people we love, to make us feel whole.