The candle smoke is suffocating me


A screenshot of my lockscreen, at 2:13 pm, on February 13th.

As my eyes wander across the classroom, they lock onto the digital clock on the counter. The red digits come into focus. 2:13. I smile on the inside, mentally capturing the moment. It’s just another minute of the day, but its secret significance makes it special to me.

February is far from my favorite month. Around this point of the year, the romanticized ideal version of winter starts to fade away, leaving behind a very real amount of snowy brown slush. Spring break seems to be getting farther rather than closer, and as the schoolwork begins to pile up with no end in sight, it starts to feel like all hope has been lost.

Around this point in the year, the romanticized ideal version of winter starts to fade away, leaving behind a very real amount of snowy brown slush.

In the midst of the misery and cold, a small, faint hope strives to stay alight when all else is dark. My birthday. February 13th. In my experience, birthdays are more enjoyable as an idealized concept. It’s something to look forward to until it arrives and ends up being the same as any other day. 

For some reason, everything seems to go wrong around my birthday. February has a pattern of being a rough month for me, and life doesn’t stop happening because I want it to. I haven’t had a birthday party in years due to the stress and overwhelming busy schedule February brings. On top of everything else going on in my life, I find myself yearning for the warmth of the summer sun, and a brief respite from the dreary winter. 

Even so, I know that that’s the pessimist in me writing. Waking up to birthday texts, choosing where we go for dinner, getting a free Starbucks drink, and simply feeling cared for during the bleakest time of the year will never go unappreciated. 

Simultaneously, another candle on the cake means I’m getting older. At the ripe old age of fifteen, I don’t think I’m supposed to feel sad at the thought of aging. However, ‘Life is short’ is drilled into my mind for so long that each passing year reminds me that the next year will be over before I know it. The future is rapidly approaching, and it always will be, until it’s gone. I don’t want to not be a teenager anymore. I know I’m not alone when I say I don’t want to grow up. Ironically, I feel even older when I think about not wanting to get older.

At some point, birthdays shift from balloons and excitement to being twenty-nine for five years in a row. And I’m stuck in between, not wanting to grow up but still excited by the sight of party poppers and confetti.