Sorry about the delay...but life seems to have been happening since last we chatted! So here are the last two days of the 30 Day Writing Challenge...albeit on the same day and a week or so overdue!
Day 20: The night of your 21st birthday
Well that was a long time ago and despite my greatest determination to forget a lot of what happened that night I still have some fairly clear memories! Some folks say those days are the best of your life but I wholeheartedly disagree. Hounded by feelings of inadequacy which I covered by over-imbibing with monotonous regularity, I'm afraid I have too many memories of nights I'd rather forget. Nights where I did things I thought I'd never do and then I'd grieve for days afterwards indulging myself in the horror of being a human who didn't know how to do life very well at that stage. Not very well at all.
Though I wallowed in the awfulness of my teen years and beyond for quite a long time, thinking I was a complete terror and a dreadful person, I found some redemption in reading a book titled High Sobriety; my year without booze. I discovered within the covers of that book that both my adventures and misadventures 'under the influence' were pretty mild compared to the author's and it gave me a measure of relief and some belief in myself again.
Having given you that wonderful intro without divulging a thing about the esteemed 21st, I'd better at least revisit some details of the auspicious occasion. I seem to remember that Mum and Dad gave me the choice of a stereo system or a party at the local golf club, and I, loving parties at that stage of my life promptly chose the latter. There followed meetings with the ladies from the golf club who were decorating the room and doing the catering. I chose wattle flowers for the table centres. I can't remember what the food was but I bet it was excellent!
I was very excited about the party and asked a friend who was also a farmer a few years older than me to be my partner for the evening. Of course, I had taken a bit of a shine to him but whilst the shine was not reciprocated, he agreed to pick me up and save me the shame of being single for the night. I know. Now I wouldn't be worried at all but then it was so bad not to have a boyfriend...especially at the ripe old age of 21!
Lots of people had accepted invitations and it was prepped to be a memorable night. I'd never had such a party prepared to celebrate me before. One of my brother's friends came around to our place on the afternoon of the party - my brother and I rented a house together at that time. Of course, we had a drink, or two, or five...and by the time my friend turned up to collect me I was primped and dressed and ready to go but also somewhat tipsy. Of course too, the drinks flowed freely at the golf club and I was soon even more tipsy (not tipsy any longer...drunk!). There were loads of lovely gifts to open and generally much fun to be had dancing and chatting and laughing with everyone.
Alas, at one point in the evening my 'partner' was dancing with a lady I knew he had a shine for and the dreaded green-eyed monster grabbed hold of my tipsy self and headed me across the dance floor whereupon I (to my greatest shame) executed what I thought to be a funny move and bumped the back of her knees causing her to stumble. Oh dreadful creature that I was back then. How totally awful of me! If you'd told me beforehand that I would do such a thing I would never have believed you. [Even worse, at another party weeks later I did a similar thing to an older lady and her husband slapped me hard on the shoulder, effectively curing me forever of such stupid antics].
I remind myself here that there is a tendency not to 'grow up' once one starts to rely on alcohol for confidence in social situations, with often disastrous results. Oh, the shame!!
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I somehow survived the night and was dropped home later with a laundry basket full of opened presents and cards none of which I ever managed to mate together. That is, I never knew who gave me which gift. More shame. I'm sure it was a good night overall and that most people really enjoyed themselves. Mum and Dad honoured me more than I deserved by putting that lovely night together for me and I dishonoured them by turning up drunk and then misbehaving despite knowing that this was all about me and a chance to enjoy being the centre of attention. Bit sad really.
So my friends, now that the story has been told I will say this. Given the time again (and with current wisdom or even just a bit of decorum) I would limit myself to 2 or 3 drinks for the night and drink soft in between or just water. I would not have drinks before a special occasion as I no longer need to 'relax' before heading out for a party. And even though the party was for my 21st birthday, I would realise now that the party was really about the guests and taking care of them. I would make sure I kept gifts and cards together so that I could thank people properly for their kindness.
I don't drink alcohol any more. I don't need to. I can enjoy myself sober. I don't need to hide behind someone I'm really not deep down. Now I'm happy being me. Whatever that means. And the me I choose to be is a bit more gracious and contented than the sad and misguided younger me. Thanks for the party folks. Sorry I messed up.
Day 30: One thing you're excited for
The future! I don't know what it holds but every day that unfolds is like a beautiful gift filled with precious conversations, moments alone, beauty to fill my senses, hugs and learning to love better. How could I not be excited by the possibilities!!
Though it can sometimes be painful and embarrassing to look to the past, there are always lessons if you are looking for them, and ways to change and to embrace more fulfilling times ahead.
Make mistakes, learn from them, do better next time.