Yes, this is it. My 30th birthday is less than 2 hours away. For the first time in my life I’m actually dreading turning another year older! I used to think people who hated revealing their age or experienced any kind of anxiety when thinking about their age were crazy! It’s a number! Who cares? Well, now that it’s me in that position, I totally understand the angst so many people feel about entering a new decade of life. I’ve grown so accustomed to writing a 2 in my age…now I have to get used to the fact that my age starts with 3! I’ve been alive for 3 decades! Kids who were born when I was in elementary school are now graduating from college and getting married! Where did the time go??? Anyway, in honor of my big 3-0, I’ve decided to reminisce about some of my birthday parties from years past…
- Age: 6. Location: The Local Burger King.
All the kids from my kindergarten class were invited for a blowout party at a fast food restaurant. It was my favorite at the time. Everyone got a gold crown and a kids meal. After gifts, we went outside to the magical world that is the fast food restaurant playground. So many restaurants have done away with their playgrounds, that was a big part of my childhood. We played pirates on the big ship-shaped slide that even had a swinging drawbridge. Good times were had by all.
- Age: 13. Location: My House.
My 13th birthday was pretty amazing. Lots of good memories. Some, not so good. My friends from school (only the girls) were picked up after school by a limousine. The bar inside had been replaced with all the sodas you could drink. There was a tiny TV and stars that twinkled on the ceiling. The limousine took us to dinner in style, where we dined on delicious pizza at the local CiCis. We had the limo for a while longer after dinner, and after a unanimous vote, we decided our next stop would be Petsmart. If I’m lying I’m dying. We then went home, had homemade funnel cakes in place of birthday cake, and stayed up all night. We then took everyone home during some thunderstorms. Once we got home from dropping everyone off, one of the biggest tornado outbreaks in the state’s history wreaked havoc everywhere. I was so tired from the night before I slept through most of it, then the tornado sirens woke me up. Tornados obliterated entire towns that day. Only one of my friends lost their home. They found his mom’s car 3 blocks away WRAPPED around a tree. My birthday went out with a bang in 1997.
- Age: 16. Location: Local Community Center.
The year I turned 16, my dad turned 40. We were both having a big birthday that year (we share the same birthday). I told my mom it was fine if she focused on him instead of me for our birthday, so I was led to believe we were having a big birthday party for him. I was with my best friend all day getting ready, planning on surprising my dad. My friend suggested we dress crazy in tye dye shirts and long colorful toe socks, etc…the flower power days were trying to make a comeback at that time. Turns out my friend was only keeping me occupied so I didn’t come to the community center because turns out, the party was for me! I showed up and saw all my friends sitting there in crazy tye dye shirts because the theme was crazy colors and flower power crap. There was a DJ and everything. That was the biggest surprise I’ve ever been given.
The rest of my birthdays have been relatively uneventful. This one will be as well. No plans for a birthday party tomorrow, just having dinner with family. I thought this would be a big deal celebration-wise, but turns out it’s been such a crazy year so far nobody has time or interest in putting a party together…and I can’t blame them there. I’m not particularly in love with the idea of celebrating the death of my 20s.
So, as hush-hush as I tend to be about it, I have finally realized it doesn’t matter anymore. What am I so hush-hush about? My age. I’m honest about it, though vague. I never tell my age, only a general “age area.” Well, in less than a month I have a very significant birthday. As much as I hate to admit it, it is the one birthday young adults seem to dread the most. The big 3-0. While that isn’t very old by today’s standards, I’m ancient by tumblr’s standards. I do know some other tumblr-ers who are older than I am, but I think I am definitely in the top 25% when it comes to age! Now that I’m turning 30, I realize there are a lot of things from my childhood that just aren’t around anymore. Being born in the mid-80s, I was born at the end of an era…and the beginning of another one. It’s actually been a really great experience watching technology develop as it has.
- The cartoons have changed. When I was a kid, you had Looney Tunes, Fraggle Rock, Animaniacs, Inspector Gadget, the ORIGINAL Nicktoons (Doug, Rugrats, and Ren and Stimpy, followed soon after by Hey Arnold, Ahh! Real Monsters, and Rocko’s Modern Life), and more. Cartoons were awesome then. They were actually hand-drawn and animated, and while I am a fan of computer animation, you can’t beat old-school animation. Cartoons always slipped in classical music and classic film references. You didn’t even realize you were getting an education.
- Phones are different. Believe it or not, I actually remember life BEFORE cell phones. I remember the days when if you needed to get in touch with someone, you hoped they were at home. If they weren’t, you had to wait until they did get home…and hope they called you back. I even remember the days before cordless phones. They may have been invented in my early childhood, but they weren’t the standard issue phones. Until I was 6 or 7, we had one solitary phone in our house. It sat in a phone alcove in the hallway. It didn’t have buttons, it was a rotary phone. Yep, if you wanted to talk on the phone, you had to stand at the phone alcove in the hall for the entire conversation. How archaic!
- Life before computers–I remember that too! My household didn’t have a computer until I was 12 years old. Hardly any homes had personal computers back then. Strangely enough, my grandpa was the first of my relatives to own a computer. He bought it for his business he ran from his home. Whenever the grandkids would visit, we’d spend more time playing solitaire or minecraft on that computer than we spent visiting. I thought that computer was the most amazing thing ever. When we finally got one (a lovely off-white Gateway) I loved it. We didn’t even have internet at the time! It wasn’t until I was almost 14 that we finally got internet–dial-up AOL. I was always closely monitored with my time online, because it tied up the phone line. My parents refused to get a second, internet-dedicated line, no matter how much I begged. Whenever anyone called and got a busy signal, they knew I was online talking on Instant Messenger. My how times have changed.
- I grew up in a time when most kids were taught to drive both an automatic and standard transmission. It was considered important to know how to drive a stick shift because you never knew what kind of car you might end up with or have to drive. My first car was almost as old as I was…a 1987 black Honda Prelude with a standard transmission. I loved that car until I was totaled by an idiot trying to race me across an intersection. Now it’s rare to even find a new car with a standard transmission.
- Now people spend time together by sitting around looking at their phones or computers, always on the internet checking twitter, facebook, etc. Even at the dinner table. I’m not saying I don’t, it’s just how things are. I do remember a time, however, when spending time together involved actual conversation. Sitting around the living room talking. When there wasn’t anything on TV, people would sit in the living room and talk. And, at least here in the South, people would go outside and sit on their front porch and visit. Sometimes people passing by on the street would come up and visit too–if you knew each other. Parents would sit on the porch and watch their kids play, because back then kids actually played outside. They didn’t have to be forced to go outside and had to be begged to come back in. For me, I’d go out before lunch, come back for lunch reluctantly, then return outside and stay until the streetlights came on. If I wasn’t back right then I’d hear my name being called! It was the very end of that era…that’s how my parents grew up too. I like that I have that in common with them.
So, in conclusion, I’ve been able to experience the best of both worlds being born when I was. The easy-going, less stressful time of my parents, when things were simple. Everything wasn’t electronic. People stayed home most nights and ate a home cooked meal. Going out to eat was a rare treat.
You didn’t watch as many movies because they were on VHS. You remember renting videos from an actual video rental store. The cassettes had “be kind, rewind” stickers on them. People played board games like Monopoly and Life. Not Candy Crush, Flappy Bird, and Angry Birds.
I’ve also been able to witness the technology “revolution.” I’ve seen computers become as common as TVs, almost everyone has one. I’ve watched as internet connections have become faster and more efficient. I have seen land-line phones begin to disappear, as most people use their cell phone as their sole means of communication. It’s all happened in my lifetime, and I know a lot more is bound to change before it’s over. It’s been an interesting few decades so far.