My Birthday in the Bubble

ameka menes

On the morning of January 16, I woke to frozen rain hanging from tree limbs and coating the rooftops like white icing. It was a marvelous sight. It was even better that nature would deem me worthy of such a gift on my twentieth birthday, bending branches backward, reminding me how miniscule we all are in the grand scheme of things.

My nineteenth in comparison was kind of uneventful. I mean, a bunch of my roommate’s friends showed up out of the blue and started scream-singing happy birthday in my dorm doorway, which was embarrassing but nice. I like when people notice. Even if it is due to that great modern monster, Facebook.

I don’t really think Facebook is bad. But unlike many students, I do not spend my precious free time creeping on people’s lives. However, when my birthday came around, my Facebook page blew up and very much became the center of my attention. There were so many personal birthday messages and greetings. Many more than last year – probably because in over the span of the past year, I have made many more friends in the Transy community.

That was definitely a part of the community atmosphere that made me feel like I belonged. That unquestionable feeling that I was in the right place at the right time in my life – that something I felt innately: like, of course! Of course I belong here! And that was an interesting realization for me, since I have always felt the loner, or the outsider, or someone who just has to be independent because I’m not accepted. I’ve even felt it sometimes here at Transy. But that was more my own fault than that of others: When the going got tough, I tended to shut people out. It took a while to learn that there are lots of caring people on this campus who truly do want the best for me – and I need to let them in sometimes.

But here’s the really important thing to take from that: The truth is I don’t have to be any of those labels listed above. I can be myself and still belong or fit in or however you want to phrase the feeling of being one of a collective, yet still an individual; someone who matters and is valued.

My birthday ended with a small party at a friend’s place. There were only three people there except for myself. They got me exactly what I’ve wanted for years now: an ice cream cake! I just always wanted one, you know? It was one of those simple pleasures of life, to sit around in a comfy apartment, laughing over jokes I already can’t remember, forking ice cream from a plate.