But I think I may have had a perfect 21st birthday, so perfect I am on the verge of tears.
I did so many of my favorite things. I will attempt to list them.
- At midnight, I bought my ticket for a bartending class in San Francisco.
- My mother got me a ream of paper as a gift, and I loved it because I needed it badly.
- I spiked my hair and took the bus to work.
- I worked a slow day at Tachikawa and talked about everything that mattered with my good friend Chris.
- I WENT TO THE DENTIST
- I got a tall, regular coffee at Starbucks. Everyone yelled "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" when I walked in, so loud it was embarrassing.
- I ate dinner at Tachikawa, and for the first time I tried hot sake. Every time I prepare hot sake at Tachikawa it smells amazing, and today I finally got to taste it for myself. ALSO SUSHI AT TACHIKAWA IS MY FAVORITE THING ESPECIALLY WHEN I GET A 20% DISCOUNT BECAUSE I WORK THERE.
- Went to the Berkeley Poetry Slam, got a beer, watched the FINAL competition of female slam poets and was floored. Excellent poetry.
- My friend Katherine got me a mystery book as a gift and I love it. There is no blurb written on the cover. The contents is a unknown. This makes me more excited than anything.
- I WENT TO A BAR IN OAKLAND, DRANK ANOTHER BEER, AND SAW LIVE MUSIC. "Go rap," said my cousin Yung Jess. "What?" "It's an open mic, go, anyone can just do it." I watched for a bit, then went onstage and spat a verse. AT A BAR. IN OAKLAND. My life became complete. Once I was done I sat down to finish my beer, a random person gave me props. "Was that you spitting up there? Good job." DAY MADE.
I came home exhausted. And then I saw that there was a small package on my floor.
Inside was THIS APRON:
Per usual, my sister gets me the best gifts. For those of you who have never seen "My Drunk Kitchen", I suggest you start now. This was by far the best way to end my day. Erin Miller, you are an amazing sister and I dare to say you know me more than any other person on planet Earth. You are a star, and this apron is my favorite thing.
A lot of my friends sent me text messages and Facebook messages and wall posts, and I was really happy to receive all of them. The ones that made me the saddest were the ones that said "Connor, we miss you." I want to cry. I miss you too. I miss all of the friends I have at Sarah Lawrence.
However, the best gift is being home. It's very difficult to explain. I don't know if I am weird or sensitive or what, but when I was walking down the streets of Pinole today in the fog, I knew I was in the right place, and I felt happiness well up in my chest and I wanted to cry. I didn't, because I had a hot coffee in my hand and I was about to go to the dentist. But it was a beautiful moment. Spiritually, I wept with happiness.
On our way back from the bar in Oakland, my cousin and I talked about our plans.
"I'm tryna get a grill," she said. "I have gold fangs, but I want six gold bottom teeth."
"That's twenty dollars a tooth," I said.
"I know," she said, tapping the steering wheel. "Gotta save up."
"I wanted to get a grill hella bad," I said, "but I told my friends at SLC about it and they told me, verbatim, 'that is disgusting, why would you do that, I find that to be the most unattractive thing you could ever do'."
My cousin made a face.
"That shoulda been a sign that you were in the wrong place, kid. Grills are raw. It's in your blood."
It's a small, silly, stupid thing. I am sure I could've found Sarah Lawrence kids who were into getting gold plating for their teeth, but the small, silly things click more snugly into place here at home; my music taste, my clothes, my hobbies. Everything seems to mesh very well with me here. And it makes sense, because I grew up here, I was shaped by Pinole, California, and now I've adapted to function in it.
I am very thankful for everything I learned at SLC. There is too much to count. I don't know, go read my evaluations or my previous blog posts. Psychology, writing, biology, etc. etc., but maybe the most important lesson was learning how to appreciate the hometown I had left so hurriedly.
I could give advice, like "go to college for the right reasons" but if my readers are anything like me they're not going to believe it until they do it themselves.
Blah blah blah I got all sentimental. (Oh no... maybe it's the beer GASP).
I'll end on a lighter note.
My parents warned me that tonight was going to be dangerous.
"Don't worry," I told them, "I'm not going to buy a lot of drinks, I don't have that much money."
"IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY, everyone is going to buy you drinks and you are going to get SICK."
I heard horror stories from my friends, who went to bars on their birthdays and ended up drinking obscene amounts of alcohol.
"Don't do it. You aren't a man yet, you'll see," said my friend from Texas.
The funny thing was, no one noticed at any of the venues. Only my close friends knew it was my birthday. No bartenders, hosts, strangers made a fuss, and I was thankful.
We walked up to the bar and a bouncer scanned our IDs before we entered.
My friends went first, then he swiped my ID, looked at me and softly said, "Happy Birthday, dude."
Three people had checked my ID today, and he was the only one who noticed. Go Oakland bouncer, you are observant and awesome.
Ooof. This was longer thank I thought. And it's almost 3am.
I love all of you. I am thankful for everything.
Here is a song about gold teeth: