Today, I’m twenty-six. But I never thought much about what that means. It means I’m also twenty-five. And twenty-four. And seventeen. And ten. And five. And one.

I never feel like my new age on the day my previous age retires its crown. I don’t feel twenty-six today. I still feel like I was yesterday. I still feel the twenty-five behind the newly formed ring of twenty-six.

Age is like a box within a box within a box within a box and so on. Your one box is pretty small. It probably contains some giggles, the first time you crawled, the first time you stood up on your own, and a whole lot of crying. Your two box probably contains your first words and some training pants. And the boxes get bigger to contain your first day of school in the five box; your first crush in seven or eight; the awkward moments of puberty in those preteen boxes you don’t mind duct-taping shut forever (after all, if duct tape doesn’t fix it, nothing will); your driver’s license in your sixteen box; your high school graduation and college acceptance in your eighteen box; your college graduation—or mine in this case—in your twenty-five box.

Where I get in trouble is in the times I pull things out of boxes and put them into one they don’t belong in.

Starting a new chapter does require a little review in previous chapters. But when you pull something out of your fifteen box and try to make it fit in your eighteen box, it’s going to be out of place and likely awkward. And creepy. Likewise if you try to fit something from eighteen into twenty-five. When you take something out for review, put it back where you found it. And make sure you’re filling the right box.

Birthdays are a complicated thing, aren’t they?

I’m getting ready to close up my twenty-five box now. But it might take a while. It might take till I’m turning twenty-seven to completely close it. And even then, I might discover things that go in that box or another one some time down the road. Looking over it, there’s quite a bit in here. Twenty-five started with incredible happiness that very quickly turned into incredible heartbreak. Twenty-five was the birthday that left a grungy taste in my mouth when it comes to birthdays.

But twenty-five didn’t stay there.

Twenty-five searched for healing—demanded healing. Twenty-five took the first steps into becoming emotionally healthy. Twenty-five redefined love, trust, hope, faith.

Twenty-five rebuilt me.

Twenty-six has a lot to live up to. But at least it’s got help. Specifically twenty-five other boxes full of help.

The first thing I’m filling this box with—the first thing I’ve filled them all with—is love. I’ve been loved on today, and I know I will be loved on in days to come. And I will love just as much back.

What else will twenty-six hold on its way to twenty-seven?

I don’t know.

But it’ll be fun finding out.

(written 30 May 2013)


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