Hi friends! Today is the most important day of the year, MY BIRTHDAY! I actually don’t really like my birthday, I have this really weird phobia of aging and every year since I’ve turned 21, I’ve been really stressed out as my birthday approaches. Dramatic, unnecessary and slightly bratty- I am aware. Last night, the stress was compounded by the fact that when I was a teenager, I had it in my head that 27 was going to me the year that I had everything figured out. Back then, I was obsessed with the idea of being a doctor and so I figured by 27 I’d have graduated medical school, have my dream job, dream home and be in a happy, healthy and stable relationship. My life is LITERALLY the exact opposite of that. I randomly became a Spanish teacher, have a half Master’s in special ed, I’m studying to back to grad school for another random Master’s, I make about $350 a month, live in a tiny town where I think it’s a victory when people call me by first name instead of Blondie, White girl or fatty, I take baths with brown water from a bucket, I regularly find myself stepping in animal excrement and I pooped my pants more than once this year. Needless to say, this is not what I imagined 27 would look like. I am so happy that things don’t work out as planned (although I could live without the endless tummy issues). I would be a terrible doctor, owning a house right now sounds like the biggest nightmare and I am having way too much fun wandering through life on my own to be in a serious relationship. It is so funny how things turn out.
Today, I woke up and received a birthday kiss from my host grandma, host mom, host sisters before I even brushed my teeth. My host mom, who struggles every single month to pay the bills, bought me the most adorable earrings (from the States!) and a cute little ring. While I was getting ready for school, my neighbors walked right into my bedroom to give me hugs and kisses, I went to school and was serenaded by every class, and, of course, there were a zillion more kisses. My counterpart bought me two new pairs of nice underpants (I never even told her about my bus disaster!) Today is also the principal’s birthday so the teachers went all out and there was a band, a sanchocho (local party food-soup!) lunch, dancing, cake and fun decorations. As I was walking home from school, I got a birthday shout out from someone in almost every single house. I came home to more kisses from my host family. My sisters and I just settled into bed to take a nap when it started pouring rain. Our mom came running in and said get out there! Without any hesitation, all three of us ran outside and danced in the rain with all of the other neighborhood kids. Obviously, I was the oldest person out there by almost 10 years but it didn’t matter. We were just happy souls enjoying a break from the oppressive heat. It was a beautiful way to celebrate aging but keeping young at heart.
After the rain dance, we were starving and decided to cook pasta for dinner. We all piled into bed, listened to rain and laughed and told stories while we ate. Today, while I was at school, my host sister went to the “city” (a town of about 80,000 people) and picked out the most beautiful birthday cake. She even bought candles to say “27”…although she thought it was HILARIOUS to switch them around and pretend like I was 72. After dinner, my neighbors and some students came over and sang happy birthday to me and then we just hung out. My mommy called and I was able to talk to both of my brothers AND my dad (who is soo not a phone person). It was a great day!
I learned that today is also the birthday of fabulous poet, Mary Oliver, who wrote this lovely piece that I believe perfectly describes where I am at in life right now. Enjoy!
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
The one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the field,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what it is you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Thanks for reading and thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your wonderful birthday wishes! I wish you all the happiest of days! xoxoxo
My family sent me a brand new, indestructible digital camera for my birthday so finally I will have some higher-quality photos! Here are some fun ones from today.