Yesterday, my daughter turned sixteen years old. Her stepmom and stepsiblings and I piled into the minivan for the long ride from Durham to New Orleans so we could be there for the celebration.
You don't turn sixteen every day.
I can clearly recall my own birthday back in 1972. The night before, I was supposed to rendezvous with my friends at a golf course shelter we would inhabit and drink Mickey's in after midnight, so that we could all trip on some new LSD in town. (Yes, I know... but that was then...) This was to require sneaking out of my parents' house and traveling about half a mile in the newly fallen snow.
So sometime after my parents were fast asleep, I made my way to the shelter and dutifully ate my tab of acid as the snow fell silently. I must have waited for at least two hours, but my friends never showed. Psychedelia aside, I was starting to get really cold. The walk home was a little more difficult, to say the least. The crunch of the snow underfoot was deafeningly loud. I felt like I was on auto-pilot. Trying to creep back inside without waking my mom and dad sounded like a demolition derby. I slipped back in my bed and made patterns with the black and white acoustical tile instead of sleeping.
Still woozy and slightly trippy as daylight broke, I sat with my parents and opened some presents in their bed, trying not to belie my mental state. After breakfast, my dad and I walked across the I-40 bridge to Thruway Shopping Center, where I spent some of my birthday money on the first Blue Oyster Cult album. I listened to that record all day; that night, I finally connected with my pals who were in much better shape than I, and we decided that BOC was excellent.
My daughter's birthday celebration was far more civilized. Her mom had engineered a confusing scenario which involved a scavenger hunt that was scheduled for the next day, basically avoiding much of any acknowledging of the actual birthdate itself. Surreptitiously, she'd arranged for a party bus with sixteen of her closest friends from school to come pick her up at her house, for an evening of deranged teenage fun, which fortunately now doesn't involve LSD or alcohol or snow. They rode to a high school football game and to a local dessert bakery called Sucre for a special cake. From there, a few of her pals (chaperoned by her mom) spent the night at a nice hotel in downtown New Orleans. We haven't seen her yet today, but I bet she had the time of her life and feels utterly overloved.
And even though she didn't get to bed until 6am (just about when her sibs were waking up), I bet she feels better than I did on the day after my sixteenth birthday.