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a real rattlesnake, always ready to strike

Last month, I celebrated my 21st birthday.  Friends gathered together at my buddy Alex’s apartment for food, drinks, cigars, and music.  It was tons of fun, everybody got home safely, and then I schlepped off to work at 7am the next morning.

Overall, it was a great day and the party itself was a wonderful way to celebrate reaching college-adulthood.  I wanted to write this post because I think I’ll always remember in particular a few simple but amazing presents I received to commemorate the occasion:

The first gift I want to tell you about was that I had a nice lunch with my mom and dad.  It has been almost fourteen years since divorce split us all apart, and in this entire time I hadn’t gotten to sit down for a meal with both of my parents, even though they live five minutes from each other.  It was so nice just going out for a meal like a normal family (if there is such a thing), and feeling somewhat intact again for just a few minutes, even if my parents weren’t really speaking to each other.  I’d like to think the waiter didn’t even notice anything was wrong.


would you?

The second gift that I really appreciated was a poem that my friend Heather wrote for me.  It’s kind of an unconventional gift, especially for a college student, especially for one’s 21st birthday.  I’ll admit, when she first told me my birthday present was going to be a poem, I heard something silly and juvenile inside of me crinkle up and die – a poem for a 21st birthday gift just sounded like the dullest thing in the world, like getting a pair of oversized socks for Christmas while your siblings received buckets of celebratory booze (and I may be mixing metaphors/celebrations here).

However, after I read this poem, I was struck.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so happy at receiving a birthday gift.  It is silly, sharp, winsome, and wildly esoteric in the sense that unless you’re a nerd about my life, you won’t understand all of it (which is totally ok).  Heather has given me permission to share it here, at the end of this post.

I really appreciated all the work that went into writing it, and I’m grateful for all the time spent on the physical displays of love that people gave me.  (Not to disparage the lovely libations that many of you gifted me at our party, but store-bought things often can’t hold a flame to presents constructed from the heart.  Handmade gifts, born in love, really are the best.)  Another friend handwrote me a letter, and made me a super sweet mix CD.  My girlfriend took the time to create a jar with “ 21 reasons I love you ♥” inside of it, where she carefully wrote me kind observations and infatuations on red and pink slips of paper.  All of these gestures made me want to cry with happiness.

make a wish!

make a wish!

Anyhow, to all of my friends who made it out last week, and to those who were too far away to be there in person, I thank you for reading this and for being a positive presence in my life.  So much love to you today.  I’m very grateful for you, loved ones, whether we met in Spanish class or through Twitter, and I’m especially thankful for the support and insight you’ve brought my life (particularly when things feel overwhelming and confusing on this end).  Thank you all for reminding me I am a valuable and important part of your lives and this world – as I said on my birthday last year, sometimes you first have to see somebody else love something before you can really believe it’s worth loving.

I’ll leave you with the aforementioned poem:

“Be a mover, a shaker,
A voice for the lost.
Be a thinker, a doer
No matter the cost.
Be a blogger, a writer
A true friend to those
Who are heretics, doubters
Though you face many foes.
Be an activist, a fighter
For justice and love
A supporter of a faith
That we all fall short of.
Be a romantic, a dreamer
Conspirer, inspirer
Someone who’s willing to
To Carry the Fire.
Be bold and be loud
Be an outspoken voice
For those who are told
That their love is a choice
Be true and be kind
Be a transparent soul
Where people, not projects
Become the ultimate goal.
Be an acceptor, nonjudger
Encourager, and free
To say what you think
And with no apology
Be an author, a critic
Creative and sincere
Not avoiding the issues
That people need to hear
Be a listener, an empathizer
Someone who understands
The struggles and heartbreaks
Of both woman and man
Be a feminist, a marcher
For equality and truth
When the world tries to silence us
Because of our youth.
Be persistent, consistent
Mr. Brightside, the grey
Because nothing’s black or white
At the end of the day
Be present, be mindful
Be generous to others
Welcoming each stranger
As a new sister or brother
Be a real rattlesnake
Always ready to strike
Questioning the conventions
That white society likes
Be a wordsmith, an inventor,
Always outside the box
Willing to stand up for
causes others may mock
Be strong and be proud
Be unshakable through pain
Though others may scorn you
Because you don’t think the same
Be loving and vulnerable
No matter the scar
Be not afraid of the darkness
Just always be who you are”

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Pops #

    Beautiful…thanks for sharing….will you post your JACL birthday video? where hundreds gathered (only a few knew it was your bday :{

    August 16, 2014

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