36 years

2018 has been a weird year for a lot is reasons. My grampa died in January. That meant a trip to Ohio. And it meant that I thought a lot about being 16, because being 16 was the first year of my life that I ever thought Grampa “saw” me – who I was, why, my motivations. And that’s been painful to remember in 2018, 13 years after I left Ohio.

I first started writing this post right before my birthday a few months ago. I didn’t publish it then because the introspection was painful.

20 years ago, I turned 16 and had the worst birthday party ever. My friends were all mad at each other over something that doesn’t need to be rehashed two decades later. Two people were fighting for legitimate reasons and everyone else took sides and the major drama happened at my birthday party. I ended up crying under a table because I was pissed, and then ditching my own party to go get buzzed on wine coolers. (Remember those?)

And right around that time, a boy I’d liked for years decided to date someone else in our driver’s ed class right when my hopes were high that we’d (finally) date. Spoiler: we never dated.

My terrible, awful, horrible, no good, very bad 2017 has had me thinking a lot about Ohio, why and how I left, and how I’ve changed. My sophomore year of high school, when I turned 16, had a lot to do with it. In so very many, many ways, 1998 was the year I grew up, and that terrible birthday party had a lot to do with it.

It made me see what kind of friendships are true ones. The friend whose side I took in the fight is the one I share this blog with. She’s been my best friend for 20 years, and that fight was probably the defining time that solidified our friendship to best friendship.

It made me see that even at 16, I wasn’t interested in that kind of drama. And small town northwest Ohio is full of that kind of drama. 

So I picked my college based on my major and how far away I could get.

I went to Europe.

I didn’t try out for cheerleading.

I voiced LOTS of my opinions.

I cut off all my hair. 

In some ways, that terrible birthday party helped me become who I am today.

And 36 just wouldn’t be the same without that pissed and crying 16-year-old under the table.

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