Tomorrow, my youngest sister T is turns twenty-one! To celebrate, Husband and I will leave the girls with his parents for the night and head to Yale for the festivities. We will join the rest of the Donnelley fam and a bevy of very cool college kids for delicious dinner and drinks, and let's be honest, if things go according to plan, some old school undergraduate debauchery. It is pathetic how excited I am for this party. Pathetic. I have no idea what I will wear. I have no idea why I care. No idea.
Truth is I don't know whether I am more excited about Tomorrow or more nostalgic about Yesterday. Whether I am more pumped about this milestone fiesta or more longing for two Tomorrows long gone.
First, the day on which T entered this world. Because, yes, that's right, I remember the very day she was born. I was almost ten and utterly clueless (as young kids should be) about all things pregnancy and birth related. I knew Mom had a big round belly and I knew I would have yet another sibling (a fact about which I was initially not psyched - I remember that day too - when Mom and Dad broke the news to us over papadums at our favorite Indian restaurant). On the day of T's debut, my sisters and I picnicked with good friends in the park and Mom and Dad were conspicuously absent. At the hospital of course. But I didn't think much of it. Just enjoyed the late summer sun and lemonade. My sisters and I stayed up that late that night waiting for the call. And a little before midnight, that call came. I think I answered (but I might be rewriting history here) and Dad said in his magical and gravelly voice, "You have another sister!" Another sister. The fifth and final Donnelley girl. I remember Mom coming home, beautiful and unfazed, clutching a little white bundle. I remember sitting in the kitchen peering over the edge of the navy pram watching tiny T sleep while everyone else was in the garden. I remember it like it was yesterday.
Second, my own twenty-first birthday party. That day before law school and marriage and babies. That night on which I threw wonderfully wild party at my off-campus apartment. I remember the hordes of friends and family, the constant hum of conversation and laughter and happiness. I actually remember smiling. I smiled all night. Recently, a good friend from Yale with whom I've lost touch for no good reason emailed me to say hello. We caught up a bit about life, our respective families, how we both went the law route. And then she told me something I didn't know. That she met her husband (a non-Yalie who she'd begin dating many years later) for the first time at my twenty-first! I don't know why, but I loved hearing that. That at my silly and fungible college party, someone sipped wine and tasted her future. You never know, do you?
And now tomorrow. That tiny creature in the carriage has grown into a gorgeous and brilliant girl. One who knows how to be serious and how to be silly. A creature who has survived twenty-one years filled with countless rainbow days and some more recent navy ones. A creature who has skillfully survived us, an impossibly large and loving family that both sustains and suffocates its own. And, tomorrow, we will gather and flank our sweet baby T who is suddenly no longer a baby and raise a glass or several and toast her. Tomorrow, we will check serious at the door and be silly and celebrate life and love. Tomorrow, we will smile goofy smiles and laugh hearty laughs and maybe embarrass ourselves dancing. Tomorrow, we will honor all those yesterdays in our collective and commingling wake and all those tomorrows on the horizon. And, most of all, we will revel in that day that falls squarely and precariously in between, that day that tends to get lost in the shuffle: Today.
And at some point on Saturday morning (my bold guess? 7am), I will wake up in some New Haven hotel room. My hair will be knotted from sleep and my head will be knotted from wine. Or maybe champagne. And I will grab a coffee and as I sip it, I will write about the night on which my baby sister became legally blonde. I will pen predictable sentiments about how I have lost my ability to party and how I miss my babies. And then, because I tend to go overboard sometimes and get carried away, I will picture my tiny girls as twenty-one-year-olds and this will make me very emotional. This post will be a bit tarnished and non-linear. My words will wind and wander and hint at the hazy, but happy mind of their producer. You'll have to wait and see. So will I.
Leave a comment and wish T a happy birthday. Or suggest a good gift or a good outfit because I am lost. Or, better yet, tell me about your twenty-first. Where were you? Who were you with? How did you celebrate?