21

If I am honest, if I am willing to stand in my own truths and claim the sharp corners of my flaws, I must admit I expected this milestone to deliver a certain knowing. There was an unspoken expectation as glossy as my own filtered social media images.

The day itself dawned painfully unexceptional for the unfortunate happenstance of Youth Nature’s folly. Still my friends honored our morning traditions in a way that tethered me to the simplest of joys and was a happy foreshadowing of countless thoughtful gestures of appreciation.

It was a beautiful day, a harmonious balance of sunshine and moderate temperatures. It was a quiet day with simple pleasures and good company. Still, if I tell the story of my gratitude I am conveniently excluding the complicated pieces of my truth that undermine the complexity of an internal uncertainty.

Perhaps it is better to draw only on the positive, to edit our narrative for our mistakes that we might be remembered for our best.

I was not my best.

I wanted to feel handsome and young, certain and confident. Instead my body betrayed me and I felt unwell. The day wore against my skin like a dress to small and shoes too large, cumbersome in its inconvenience.

Still those closest to me loved me stubbornly and generously, thoughtfully and gently. It is perhaps the most extravagant gift of all, to be so unconditionally loved for out best in spite of our worst.

21 feels like 19 and a little like 15, too. A contradiction of expectations and experiences, a new knowing of something familiarly uncertain. The man of my youth and man I endeavor to model for my children are little more than imperfect characters in an unfinished story.

I’m still thinking on what I might wish for as I count my blessings, grateful for the love of those who let me stumble.

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