July 1st, 2006. My 26th birthday as a matter of fact. For most 26 does not seem to be old by any means. I suppose I don’t consider myself old either, but for women especially, being closer to 30 than to 20 can definitely be a big deal. When I woke up, I did what I do every birthday. I stood in front of my full-length mirror and studied myself. Did I look any older? Were my breasts in the same place they were last year? After finding my first gray hair on my 25th birthday in the mirror of my workplace bathroom and being in tears for 15 minutes, I guess I was expecting to find another sign of old age on this birthday too. At first glance, there was nothing, so I was pleased.
I sat on the couch and wrote a little. All my favorite notebooks and pens were strewn all over the place. I didn’t care much about the mess though. It was my birthday. Time for celebration, not organization. My imagination was flourishing. The writing went well. I pounded out 3000 words before deciding to hop into the shower to get ready for my birthday plans.
A friend was taking me out for my birthday, so I wanted to look nice. I had decided to wear a skirt, so I grabbed a new razor from the medicine cabinet to shave my legs. I undressed and hopped in the shower and continued with my routine. After washing my hair, I propped on of my legs up on the side of the tub so that I could shave my legs. As I started down my shins, I knocked a bottle of shampoo off of the ledge and into the tub. As I reached down to pick it up and return it to its rightful place, I gasped! There it was on the back of my calf! My sign of old age! There was a huge dark varicose vein on the back of my calf! It shocked me so much I dropped my razor and cut my toe which bled profusely. How could this happen? Surely I couldn’t wear a skirt and let everyone see my body’s declaration of maturity. I rationalized with myself as I was slowly bleeding to death from my toe. There were surgeries to fix this sort of thing, but what about until then? I couldn’t possibly let my friends see me like this! The tears started filling my eyes. And as I let them stream down my face I realized something. I was getting old and totally letting my life pass me by. I was 26 and hadn’t done hardly anything on that “Things To Do Before I Die” list I had made in high school. I resolved to make this year better and more productive than the previous years. I was going to do and see it all before the rest of my body gave out on me!
In the midst of my tears and bleeding toe, the water ran down over my body and I noticed something about my newly discovered varicose vein. It was starting to lighten. Lighten? Wait a minute, I thought. Do varicose veins really lighten on their own? Upon further inspection, I realized that it wasn’t a varicose vein but merely some ink from my favorite blue Bic pen that I keep refusing to throw away despite its leakiness. I washed the rest of it off and got out of the shower with a little more spring in my step. Perhaps I wasn’t quite ready for the old age home like I thought, but at least the mistake served as a wake up call for me to get off my butt and take charge of my life.