Lili's Travel Diary #9: Happy 21st Birthday To Me

It's crazy to me that today is my 21st birthday. I just can't believe it? The running joke between my family and all my friends is that I've been 21 since setting foot on British soil on January 10th, but that's beside the point.

The point is that today is my birthday. I don't know how I feel because this is the most conflicting birthday to date.

Last night I called both my parents and talked to them for a solid hour each. I actually ended up ushering in my birthday here in the UK while on the phone with my father, who joked that my birthday really isn't until 10:30AM in the UK to make it 5:30AM in the states--the time of my birth. I had my sister who congratulated me on being OLD, just as she has for my last six birthdays, who then proceeded to bicker with me over her literal and figurative childishness while sending me terrifying pictures of our cats with faces on them. That about sums up that relationship.

Immediately upon the clock striking midnight, I got birthday wishes from around the world. The states, the friends I left behind just two days ago in Scotland, the lifelong friends I made on my birthright in Israel, several of the amazing people now in my life that I would not have met if not for my trip here. Many more are still coming in since people are just beginning to start their days here while my people in the states are still asleep. Again, it's just a lot to wrap my head around.

I suppose the hardest part, though, is missing my people back home. During my 20th birthday I was stuck living in a room with terrible people. I am sure my long-time blog followers remember that time because they often commiserated with me about sucky roommates. But my friends went out of their way to give me a simple birthday worth remembering to take my mind off of the terrors that I lived with--thus instilling in me the confidence to set a plan into motion that resulted in me moving out two weeks later. My friend Carolyn trekked through a blizzard (literally the worst snowstorm of the last year) to get to my other best friend Max's apartment where they proceeded to order me both Italian and Chinese food (because really, who can decide?) and made me cry by giving me a birthday cake. I know it's such a silly thing to cry over, but I hadn't had a birthday cake in so long at that point, and the mere gesture pushed me over the edge because it showed just how much they cared. Dana, she was just the best friend a girl could ask for while we belted lyrics at Ellen's Stardust Diner and she gave me the best gag gift I never knew I wanted. It's been a little hard not being able to talk to her as much while I am here. All my friends went out of their way to just do the little things that would make me smile last year. And all of those people that are so important to me... Dana, Max, Carolyn, Andrew (who better come visit!), Taylor, and several more people that are incomparable to anyone else out there aren't here to celebrate my birthday with me this year.

Nor are my parents, who I went home to visit the week before or week after ALWAYS to be able to see them, especially with the thought looming that if I studied abroad this semester I wouldn't see them for my birthday. Well, that time is here, and I am ridiculously conflicted.

On the one hand, I am going to a Mexican restaurant with nine other people tonight. Nine people who I've known for less than five weeks that want to celebrate my birthday with me because of the bonds that we have forged. That's with more invited that I know just can't come. My international friends and Erasmus folks who live in the halls that are going to go out to my favorite pub with me on Saturday, my Greenwich University friends that I met through Hannah who have adopted me into their friend group and made it so much easier to adapt (I love these people more than I thought possible) will finally get a glimpse into my world on Saturday, my book people who made this transition ten times easier and even invited me into their book club, and the people I am still meeting along the way.

I mean, I've been here for five weeks! It simultaneously feels like I am adjusted to the point of being here longer, but still so non-adjusted that I can remember my arrival and all the conflicting emotions that came with it. And somehow in the past weeks of crazy adventures and emotional storms, I've found this large group of people who call me theirs and want to celebrate my birthday with me. So many people that I simply cannot include them all in any single birthday plan and find myself doing several different things over the next week to celebrate. And it's a wonderful feeling to know this many people care about me, though knowing the people I also care about aren't here to celebrate isn't as wonderful.

This is something I knew I would experience while coming here, but now that it is upon me I don't yet know how to react. It doesn't help that I am also in complete denial that this means I am over 25% of the way through my time here in England. Where has it gone?

I think this is going to be an amazing birthday week full of friends, laughs, and memories, but that doesn't make missing the people who have been in my life for years any easier. 

And because I know no other way to end this post...


  1. Happy 21st birthday, Lili! I hope you have an amazing time with all of your friends. Wishing you lots of adventures to come <3

  2. Happy Birthday! I hope you have an awsome day and week ahead! :-D

    -Poulami @ Daydreaming Books