The air tastes different here already. Every breath is sweet with a tinge of bitterness like my favourite rum and coke. I am still in love with ocean waves that are loud enough to make me worry about hearing damage, but I have also grown to appreciate the stillness of a lake. Despite my concerns about hearing damage, I continue to drive with my windows down and let my hair whip around in the wind.
At 26, I won’t be able to check off that aged 18-25 box when I do surveys. I can already feel the texture of my skin changing with the passing seconds. And while I may still try and tell people I’m in my mid-twenties, I know my body is already showing signs that I am so, so much closer to 30. Time has also started passing at a velocity I am not used to and on some days it feels like I am desperately trying to grab onto a stream flowing out of the tap. And I think the heavens know I am getting older too. Sometimes after a bad day, the sky glows brilliantly in my favourite pinks, purples and yellows, reminding me that I have come a long way and I can hold on for another day.
My days are gifts. They’re not always what I ask for, unfortunately, but I know that with enough time, I can grow to love them the same way I do the loafers my mom bought me 5 years ago that I have come to cherish. And with each passing day, all of life’s moments hit a lot harder. Sadness tightens my chest, loneliness thoroughly empties my gut, and joy sets my heart on fire.
I am still learning, relearning, and unlearning. Life is equal parts more complicated and more simple than I knew it to be, which I am discovering through conversations with wonderful friends who are my support system when I am away from the anchor of my family.
I love all the moments where I’m laughing with friends at 2 a.m. because our last functioning brain cells think we’re funny enough to be stand up comedians. Then there are the times when my friends show me kindness in the most mundane ways, like when my friend knew to ask for extra whipped cream for my frappuccino even though I had never told her I liked extra whipped cream. I’m grateful for memories I have made with them exploring new places and trying new things. I love the rants and discussions I have with them about everything from bad LinkedIn posts to prison reform. Then there are all the times they listened to me cry, held my hand as I cried, and cried with me.
My friends are hilarious, kind, welcoming, great listeners, and more supportive than the concrete pillar foundations of a towering condo. They make sure I’m drinking water, laugh with me, and feel my pain as theirs. This year in particular I feel regret for not having appreciated them as much as I should have in years past. And I am realizing now that as much as I can enjoy moments of solitude, it fills my heart to know I have friends with whom to share my life.
Here is to my friends who have kept my spirits lifted in the past quarter decade of my life. May I be more like you every day.