The dread started when I turned 24. You see, the minute I turned 24, I decided–and announced (which is my usual way of communicating with my family)–that I did NOT want to turn 25.
25 just seemed so old to me. It was a quarter of a century for God’s sake. I do get this reactionary thought process from my father, but in my mind I had not yet accomplished anything. Here I was, about to turn 25, living in (what I learned later was) Section 8 housing (I thought I had just got a really good deal on a 2-bedroom apartment!) in the not-so-nice part of town, working at the poverty level and trying to make my way through a medical program at the local community college. This was not what I had expected my life would turn out to be. I had graduated from college with my Bachelor’s degree and no plan besides waiting around to get married. Well, when that didn’t work out, I had nothing. My friends were moving on to Master’s degrees, buying their own houses, getting married–and I was working 12 hour shifts on the weekends at a minor emergency clinic. In my eyes, I had nothing to show for my almost 25 years of being on this earth and wanted nothing to do with it.
But, as we all know, time marches on and I did my best to cope. I worked as much as I could to save up for a “Treat Yo Self” day at the spa. The night before, I stayed up late making a birthday cake for myself, because I am not one to pass up an occassion for cake and decided to enjoy sleeping in.
The day I turned 25 was September 11, 2001.
When my clock radio went off, what I heard was “the second tower just collapsed”. That’s an odd thing to say on a classical music station, I thought to myself. But, as you know, it was so much more horrible. I got up and sat glued to the tv until I had to go to my spa appointment. When I arrived, there was a huge bouquet of flowers from my Mom and sister and they had paid for all of the services I had signed up for. There was soft, “spa” music playing in the treatment areas, but as I sat in the pedicure chair waiting for my nails to dry, someone had a radio playing in the employee break room with details of the day as they unfolded. My mind started to wander to all of the worrying and dread I had done the past 12 months leading up to this day. Thousands of people were running for their lives from collapsing buildings, and all I was worried about was appearing as a failure in my life.
Turning 25 was really not that bad and I have not dreaded another birthday since…