Entering Adulthood on the Oval

September 16, 2013
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I was always the youngest kid in my class. Having a September birthday was both a blessing and a curse; I got pegged as “the smart girl” who was younger than everyone else, but I had to deal with the inevitable possibility that my birthday would fall on the first day of school, a tragedy mended only by eating an extra slice of birthday cake (and possibly one for breakfast the next morning.) No matter what the circumstances were, however, I always looked forward to my birthday and celebrating with my family and friends. Each year brought another birthday party, an extra candle to blow out, and a higher probability of receiving money instead of actual gifts (but who’s complaining?) Every birthday seemed to come and go seamlessly, each one perfect in its own way. Except last year’s, when I turned 17 and finally recognized the harrowing reality of my future: I would never experience my birthday at home again.

The horror! Although this may seem like a petty complaint, the realization that I only had one more year to go before I “left the nest” nagged at my conscience, and I was suddenly petrified of all that the next year had in store for me. My senior year of high school posed so many threats to my emotional well-being: the stress of college applications, the increased rigor of my schoolwork, and the added responsibilities of being a role model to the underclassmen all wore on me as I plugged my way to graduation, a seemingly endless pursuit…

Fast forward to August 14th, 2013: Move in day for Katie. (I survived my senior year and did in fact graduate-with honors!) After a summer spent traveling, relaxing, and spending time with good friends, I was not ready for college to begin. After teary-eyed goodbyes, a few farewell gifts, and a full 24 hours of unpacking, decorating, and organizing, I was finally settled in my new dorm in East Baker. That night, as anxious thoughts of the next few weeks and fond memories of home intermingled in my mind, I remembered that my birthday was coming up. And not just any birthday-my 18th birthday-my entrance into adulthood! At last, I would be able to sign my own papers, buy a lottery ticket, and (most importantly) order moon sand from the TV! The excitement of such a milestone, however, was muted by the depressing truth that I would not see my family or friends for my birthday, nor would I get to blow out 18 purple candles on top of a chocolate cake with chocolate icing, just how I like it.

Fast-forward again, to the present, September 2nd, 2013: My 18th birthday. At this point, I have already spent nearly two weeks on campus-and let me say, I have never enjoyed two weeks so much in my life. I decided before arriving on campus that I would thrust myself into every opportunity presented to me with abandon, and so far I can say with confidence that that is exactly what I have done. From ordering a chocolate chip cookie milkshake from Sloopy’s, riding the COTA bus downtown to go to the Columbus Greek Festival, trying out an indoor cycling class, to spending way too much BuckID cash on Cuzzin’s Frozen Yogurt in one week, I have been loving life here. In fact, I have never felt so alive. So it was fitting that for my birthday I would do something special with my newfound vitality, and it was even more fitting that my birthday fell on Labor Day this year (no classes!!) The Sunday before my birthday, I was walking back to my dorm after watching a movie with a friend when I realized that it was getting close to midnight, which meant that I had only a few more fleeting moments of youth. When my friend pointed out that we were close to the oval, I knew that was where I wanted to officially turn 18. Laughing, my friend and I ran goofily for the oval, glancing down at our phones to make sure we didn’t miss midnight. We made it just in time. When midnight struck, I realized how much time I had spent worrying unnecessarily about the future. I had been so concerned that I would miss my family on my birthday that I hadn’t even considered the possibility that Ohio State could be my home for my special day, and my newfound friends my family. As I glanced around the illuminated Oval, I understood why everyone told me that college was the best four years of your life; I had only experienced two weeks, and it was already the best time of my life.

After going on a refreshing early morning jog the next morning, I hopped on an Ohio State bus and headed to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for a free day trip, and spent my afternoon laughing at playful monkeys, gawking at massive elephants, and enjoying the irony of spending my first day of adulthood at the zoo. After worrying that I wouldn’t get to open any presents this year, I received in the mail three wonderful boxes decorated lovingly by my family, filled with goodies that reassured me that I am still loved, even though I am in college! After fretting that I wouldn’t get a cake this year, one of my best friends dropped off a cookie cake decorated in purple and pink flowers, with “Happy 18th Birthday Katie” scripted in pink icing. To top things off, I went out to dinner at the Blackwell Inn’s restaurant Bistro 2110 with a date, and enjoyed one of the best dinners I’ve ever had, complete with a long 15 block walk in high heels to Jeni’s ice cream in the Short North. When I look back on it, I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday. The blisters I now have can’t stop me from smiling.

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