Today you turn 26.
And it reminds me, oddly, of me turning 22, when we spent the entire night whiling away in the city. Walking in its abandoned midnight streets, having conversations in jilted parking lots before finally settling down in a dim-lit Starbucks in some derelict gas station, talking about nothing and everything at the same time. In the morning, we charged into a supermarket screaming through rows of canned goods, instant noodles and whatnot, our bodies running on energy drinks. And you drove me home with your windows down, in the heat of afternoon traffic. We listened to the soundtrack of our youth – the emo lot, while I slapped and pinched you to keep you from sleeping, and killing us both.
You are my city. The side of me that’s wild and bright. And no matter how many times I’ve gone exploring your streets, I seem to always get lost in you. For you are vast, and winding, and busy, and infinite. Never mind that I watched you shrink into a dot the last time I saw you, when I jumped into a plane and left. You have always been and will always be too big for me, I could never keep you within our apartment, nor tucked safely in my pocket. You are too big, and you are meant for things that are greater, you just don’t know it yet.
Today you turn 26.
8000 miles away, its feels just as good (or bad) as turning thirty. For I am not there – the side of you that’s calm and resigned. The brick that keeps you grounded, when you seem too light, you float away. (The Debbie Downer to your Pollyana, I’m afraid to say). So different, you and I. But it never really mattered. No matter how poles apart our days go, I remember that at an ungodly hour by the hallway across the apartment that brought us together, we would always come home to each other.
(You know exactly how bad I am with ending these stupid things, so let me just say Happy birthday you free spirit, you. I love you so much. Hopefully, next time you turn a year older, I'll be home to stay through your inevitable hangover, or you through mine.)