Do you remember your 21st birthday? Describe it as best you can.
We live in a culture that celebrates and encourages alcoholic debauchery on the turning of the 21st birthday. “If you remember it, you didn’t party hard enough/do it right/etc.” Some of my friends have some excellent stories of that they were told second hand after the fact, but not me.
Oh I went out drinking, as you do in a college town when there’s not much else to do and you can finally get into all the bars your friends have been going to all semester. But I was responsible, and did not drink to memory loss. My waning memory is entirely to do with the progression of time.
That said, allow me to tell you the things I do remember.
I’ve mentioned before on the blog that I have a pretty decent relationship with my mother. So decent, in fact, that I invited her up to celebrate with me. I would usually take a weekend before or after my birthday to go home and celebrate with my family, but that year I got her to come to me. After a little hemming and hawing (“you don’t want an old fogey like me cramping your style,” “oh please, the boys can’t wait to go drinking with you”) I convinced her to come up to Potsdam and we went out on the town with all my friends.
I was reminiscing with my husband earlier, trying to get the timeline straight, when I realized I couldn’t actually remember what we did for dinner that night. There were only a couple restaurants in town (an Italian joint, a Mexican Cantina, and a self-styled “family restaurant” that served your usual American fare) but I honestly cannot remember which one we went to.
After dinner (wherever it was, I’m leaning toward the Cantina), we went bar hopping. There were three bars in town and each one had a different vibe. The first one we went to was the seedy one. It had a reputation for being sketchy and kinda dirty, but it was also cheap and they rarely checked IDs (so I was told, and given they were busted a few years back for serving to minors I believe it) and they often had live music. We only stayed for one round of drinks (and I think a round of birthday shots) before making our way up the street.
The second bar we went to was also a pretty swanky restaurant in the early evening. It was after dinner hours, but before prime bar hours, so we snagged a big table, or at least put a few tables together, in the bar area and had drinks all around. Of the three bars, it was the classy one. Very rare the crowd got rowdy, even on the $1 draft nights. For the next several years I lived there, if we went to the bar, we went to that one.
Since it was such a popular spot, we acquired more people. Friends of friends stopped by to wish me a happy birthday and to “cheers” a drink with us. As it started to fill up, we decided to go to the last bar. Before we left though, mom wanted to do a shot with me. She wanted to do an Irish car bomb. So I had my first ever taste of Guinness and Bailey’s that night. It was tasty.
The last bar was more of an Irish pub style, and they were busy enough to have security. It also had two floors. The main level was part bar, part restaurant, but the lower level had a dance floor and another bar. So after we got our drinks upstairs, we headed down to dance. My friends got to dance with my mom and everyone had a blast.
After that, well, I don’t really remember. I know my mom left before us, she was tired and ready to head back to the hotel so her friend took her back. My friends made sure I got back to wherever I was going. I can’t remember if that was my off-campus apartment or my husband’s on-campus townhouse. I can’t remember if we got pizza first. Over the years of living there, I had a tradition of getting Little Italy for a slice of cheese pizza every time we left the bar; I can only believe it began with my 21st but I don’t actually remember if we did.
As I said at the beginning, I didn’t drink to excess. I never liked the idea of getting so wasted you can’t remember the fun you had. But it was almost ten years ago. A third of my life has gone by since. I remember the most fun bits, if not all the details. The key things: I was surrounded by friends and family and I had a pleasant and enjoyable birthday.
What about you? Did you party it up on your 21st? Did you keep track of your shoes and your phone? Was it just another birthday for you? Do you even celebrate birthdays? Write it out!
We’re halfway through the week now, which means I only have one day left of work before my mini-vacation and I am stoked. Don’t worry though, I’ll still be here! Speaking of which, I’ll see you tomorrow! Have a great night!
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