And just like that, my 20s are over. Man, what an awesome decade. I’m going to try to do a recap of all my 20s birthdays and hit the highlights of some of the incredible things I’ve had the opportunity to do in the last ten years. I’m old, though, so I might not remember all of it, but I’ll give it my best.
My 20th birthday was also known as “Princess Day.” In college, we started calling all of our birthdays Princess Day, and we’d wear tiaras and sashes and be treated like princesses. So I think that year, my friend Rachel made like she was going to take me to dinner at Chili’s, but then when we got there, we were “hijacked” in the parking lot by Becky and Faith and taken somewhere else instead (Applebee’s maybe – Chili’s was just too crowded for our large party). And then after dinner, they took me roller skating. You remember that, right, Laura Jenny?
Other than that, 20 was not a very remarkable year, although I think it was the year I did that deviance project for my sociology class – the one where I dressed up like some kind of cracked out super pirate (of the ECU pirates) and ran around downtown handing out candy and doing body builder muscle poses in the elevator of that apartment building.
It was also the year that I met my friend Andy, with whom I shared the most horrific moving adventure ever. Amazingly, we are still friends.
By my 21st birthday, my parents had moved from WILKESBORO!!!!! to New Bern, which was only about an hour’s drive from ECU, so my mom came to town for that one, and she and all my friends and I went out to eat at Red Lobster (then one of my favorite places on earth), where I was COVERED in toilet paper by the semi-psychotic waiter who was responsible for celebrating the birthdays. He dressed up like the Gorton’s Fisherman, covered the birthday girl or boy in an entire roll of toilet paper and sang birthday songs through a megaphone – songs like, “Who’s got a birthday? Who? Who? Who? Who?” which was, of course, an adaptation of the Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out?”
That year was also the year I decided not to work at Caswell again, regretted it, and was down there every chance I got. That was the year of 9-11, and just a few months after 9-11, I decided to leave the country for the first time and go on a mission trip to Honduras. I don’t think anybody saw that decision coming. I had several friends who’d gone to Kenya (while I was not working at Caswell), and when they came back, they all came to me individually and told me I needed to go overseas, and y’all are not going to believe me, but my response to all of them was, “Nope. I’m fine right here with my indoor plumbing and my familiar foods. I’m not going anywhere. I’ma stay right here in the U.S. of A.”
And then one very normal day, I was sitting in the computer lab in the psyc building at ECU, and plain as day, as though someone were standing right over my shoulder, I heard, “Go to Honduras.” I stopped, my whole body stiffened, and (almost out loud, but not because I didn’t want everyone to think I was crazy, so just in my mind) I replied, “Come again?” And the voice said, “You heard me.” And just like that, my world travels began, but not until…
I have no idea what I did on my 22nd birthday. I remember that being sort of a rough time. It was my last semester in college, and there was just a lot going on. I’m sure it was celebrated. I just don’t remember how. But to continue the story started just a moment ago, that was the year I left the country for the first time. It was also the year I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. It’s sort of a long story that I’ll share with you in person if you want to know, but by the time I got back from Honduras, I knew I wanted to pursue ESL as a career, and by Christmas of that year, I’d been accepted to NYU’s graduate program. And THAT is a day I’ll never forget. I’d gone home for lunch and checked the mail on my way back out to work. When I opened the envelope and saw the word “Congratulations,” I almost drove off the road. I just couldn’t believe it. And then I started calling everyone I knew to tell them about it. It was a good day.
I’m not sure how we celebrated 23 either. I was living in Winterville with my sister and hanging out with Collice and Hilary a lot, so they might have all been involved in the celebration. I just don’t remember what we did.
Anyhoe, that year, I left the country for the second time, had my wisdom teeth removed, moved to New York City, drank alcohol for the first time and got my nose pierced.
In grad school, I got involved with the Navigators, a campus ministry similar to InterVarsity, with which I was involved in undergrad. A week or two before I turned 24, the Navigators went on a weekend retreat/conference in upstate NY, and I just had the best time ever. For my birthday, I asked to go to Winter Conference again, and we sort of did have a little mini version of it, which was really nice. And then we sang karaoke. But my clearest memory from that night was Mike and Sonja dragging me, running, through the streets of NYC yelling, “IT’S HER BIRTHDAY!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY BETH!! BIRTHDAY GIRL COMING THROUGH!!” So fun.
That year, I:
- started blogging
- left the country for the third time to backpack Europe and study Spanish in Spain (see any entry from late June-early August 2004)
- resolved not to move back to NC
- decided to move back to NC
- spent New Year’s in San Francisco
- moved back to NC
For my 25th birthday, Laura Jenny (aka Marieke, aka Partner) and Jason Jones took me to Bojangles. Then we went back to Jason’s house, where they had a cake for me, and Jason made very strong margaritas, and we all decided it would be better to watch a few episodes of Knight Rider before driving home.
Starting that year and continuing for the next few, we had a lot of fun making the dirtydish. There’s not much activity there any more, but I was and still am very grateful for what it did for my writing. It gave me an outlet and the confidence I needed to put my stuff out there for a new audience to read. Thanks, ddo.
And we’ll just hurry things along by saying I’ve left the country at least once a year since that first time. When I was 25, H(P)M and I went to Paris. That was also the year Emily Furr Hogan and I spent New Year’s in Times Square, which was SO fun.
No idea. I didn’t even blog about it. I probably went to Chili’s. This might have been the year I had bangs, so it’s possible that I blocked it out. However, this was definitely the year I flew to London to stay with Ann and surprise DLF for New Year’s. Oh what fun we had!!
My life in Raleigh by this point had reached a level of autopilot where I was almost curled up in the back napping. I knew I needed some sort of adventure, so just before I turned 27, I signed up for my first Avon Walk. It helped. It also got me to the gym, where the Cutie Von Hottenstein encounters began, which culminated in the weirdest party I’ve ever been to in my life. I also went vegan that year, and oh, that was the year of the most awful semester of my life. I won’t force myself to think about that right now, though.
Gasp!! I don’t think I left the country that year. Did I? If I did, I don’t know where I went. I think I was too busy. Oh my gosh. I need to take two trips this year to make up for it.
I think for my birthday that year, I was supposed to go on a luxurious mountain road trip retreat with some friends, but I became deathly ill and was laid up in bed all weekend. I definitely went to Chili’s, though.And wait, was this the year I had that awesome surprise party, or was that mystery 26? Either way, there was one year when my sweet Brookie, even though she was in the middle of working on her national board certification (which she passed on the first try thank you very much), conspired with Whitney and all them hoes to throw me a surprise party that I almost didn’t go to! Whitney, however, being the genius that she is, got me to go, and it was awesome. Whenever it was.
By 28, I’d met Lauren (Josh), whose birthday is the day before mine – HAPPY BIRTHDAY YESTERDAY, BUDDY!!!! – and that was the year we had the photo scavenger hunt party and the Teen Girl Squad cupcakes. This was also the year wherein:
- Brookie moved to Wilmington 🙁 and got married 🙂
- I moved in with Josh and Josh
- I didn’t think I would survive the summer
- I had a boyfriend
- Whitney and I went to Mexico for H(P)M’s wedding
- I became an indentured servant of Wake Tech
- The Rack Pack walked DC
We’re almost done!! Last year’s birthday was lots of fun. We went to Bald Head Island for the weekend, played Wii, rode bikes, lounged around and hung out on the beach. It was a much needed get-away for everyone, and nobody wanted to leave and come back home. We powered through, though, and it went on to be a most momentous year. I completed my indentured servitude, moved to Italy for three months, almost moved to Oregon, and moved to Asheville instead.
I’ve traveled well over 13,000 miles in the past year, visited two new countries (Hungary and Austria) and a few old ones, and now, I’m getting ready to head out on what I’m calling my “30 on 40 Roadtrip.” It’s where I turn 30, having three parties in three cities on I-40. And I’m sorry for the rushed ending, but if I don’t get in the shower, pack and leave very soon, I will actually miss my second party – the one in Raleigh tonight.
But one thing before I leave. If my post yesterday made it sound at all like I am disappointed with where my life has gone, that is not the case. I meant to say that high school senior Beth just could not have imagined all of this – all the travel, adventure, friendships, food, passions, love, opportunities and general awesomeness I’ve had the incredible pleasure of experiencing. I can only hope that my 30s out-do my 20s.