by Garrett Coble
There’s just not quite any time of year that can compare to those cold days as fall fades into winter; the air just seems a little bit cleaner and the leaves a little more crunchy. Though the signs of death and dying are everywhere, there is a strange sort of beauty in the process. Perhaps it is the aesthetic beauty of the autumn shades, or maybe it lies in the predictability of the event. Then again, maybe it is something more than just regularity or colors; perhaps the beauty is in the struggle against the inevitable doom and grind of time.
I know said feeling of impending doom. Monday was my 21st birthday.
Though I don’t doubt that I have at least one real mid-life crisis to look forward to beyond this particular bout of insanity, I will definitely count this as a solid practice run. There is something unnerving about the passing of the final birthday that you truly anticipate. Unless you get off to renting cars (age 25), this is the end of the road. There is nothing to look forward to in those presents outside of new underwear and another beige pair of socks. People will only begin to care less and less about how old you are, until that time comes when every birthday matters. If people are celebrating your birthday annually, that’s a pretty good sign they don’t expect you to have many more.
However, the decreasing focus of those around me on the celebration of the birthday isn’t the source of this crisis; I’ve never been one who enjoyed all the hoopla and shenanigans. Instead, it is my own ambivalence towards the milestone that has set me on a path towards breakdown. My 21st birthday once functioned as the great countdown in my life. One more year. Seven more months. Fifteen more days. Yet now, as I write this article two days prior to the fateful day, I find myself much more concerned with the reading I need to knock out before Monday. If you’d offered my 18 year-old self the opportunity to skip right to 21 in the course of two days, I would’ve asked to whom to address my soul. Time truly does change perspective, and I’m not a fan at all.
Hopefully, there is still something to salvage. For those of you not yet of age, learn from my pitfalls, and triumph where I have failed. The reading and quizzes will get themselves done. Now, there’s something to be said for being aware of this problem. I refuse to go quietly into the night, aka adulthood. As for my entrance into the real world, I’ll be propped up against the jukebox with Hank Jr. playing in the background. It could be worse.