Today, you are 28.
That's right, kid:welcome to your motherfucking late twenties.
It's a little scary, and the road here has done a lot of meandering en route to THIS moment. The good news is, the track didn't take a total nose-dive off of a cliff, it just ran off course for long enough to taste the bitter bite of being young and dumb and making piss-poor choices.
Try not to be too hard on yourself: none of those choices shamed your family or completely squashed your dignity. And also, in spite of stealing a few pieces of federal property for giggles, the stop signs and construction barrels were all disposed of before words like "arrested" or "convicted" entered the picture.
The neck piercings and Warped Tour Band Member Boyfriend episode were sort of embarrassing, but not altogether tragic. Your hair has been every color, your closet has represented every Shouldn't Have Done That fashion moment since baggy carpenter jeans, and your bank statements have gone from bar tabs to utility bills.
Congratulations, you're growing up.
And oh, those grown-up wrinkles! I know you stare in the rearview mirror during your morning commute four out of five days each work week and are mentally saving for Botox already. You're a planner, a worrier, a Doomsday Prepper.
Those wrinkles were hard-fought and well-earned.
Two years ago at this time, you were sitting in your parents' basement wondering when your time would come. Those were some tough days: years of use and abuse as a domestic employee are hard on a gal. It would only be natural to look at the big salaries, beautiful houses, and growing families that surronded you and feel a little sad.
We all throw Pity Parties for ourselves sometimes. As long as you don't drown in your own tears, it's acceptable for a certain period of time.
Last year at this time.. and brace yourself, Big Girl... you had left the Job From Hell two days ago. The Mrs sent you on your merry way with Bible scripture about selfish people rotting for all of eternity. Those years of tolerating such mistreatment and total lack of boundaries have made you stronger. Tougher. Bolder and more adament about your right to be treated like a valued employee with a schedule, and oh yeah, AN OVERTIME RATE should you be called in early, held late, or worked until your fingers bleed.
This year has been big. Too big to minimize by trying to write about it all.
It feels good to feel good, doesn't it? To have real, grownup relationships with family members and friends. Real friends. Not people that are readily available when you want to pay for their Kamikaze shot and conveniently unavailable when you need a ride while your car is in for an oil change.
Twenty eight is going to be deliciously full of good things. And even when the skies cloud over withe Really Bad Things, your twenty-eight year old self will have the strength and the smarts to know to sit tight, hold onto your britches, and believe in the ultimate outcome.
Happy Birthday, Self. It is a happy day, indeed.