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Seventeen. Somehow I find my birthday today is coming in as both a blessing and a curse. On one hand its SEVENTEEN!- a little bit of freedom wrapped in blue ribbons. One the other hand, I am edging closer and closer to the precipice looming in front of me. I do not have a fear of not knowing or being on my own, but I think what I fear most is the leap. The leap from one boat into another, whether it be safe or not. The leap from the childhood that I am so fond of and into a life of unpredictability. And the leap that will send me onward and away from my family, as I ride the wind into a life fueled by no one, but myself.

Life is not for the fainthearted. Life, I suppose, is much like a game of cards. You have only what you are dealt and from that you must make something worth playing. At random moments you may draw a new card and discard one that does not favor the slowly built, but winning hand. But perhaps someone goes out before you? Or the one card you need is always just out of your reach? Life must be a game or cards. There are other players, all fighting for a winning hand and to be the first to play it. Life must be a gamble.

So the candles of my birthday cake seem to be looming in front of me; prognosticating my slow descent into a whole new world. I can only truly remember a few of my birthdays. The beginning ones were, for the most part, the same. The same, but treasured. Anastasia would have a beautifully manicured cake, with some design that reflected my current interest at the time. A pile of presents would tower over my small child self. The others fake joy as they were forced to watch me open present after present. Their envy almost so tangible that it was edible. And it was delicious. It’s all very different now. We do not all congregate around the old polished wooden table and wait for each other to blow out another year’s worth of candles. It’s all so much different.

Like I said, today feels like it is coming in as a blessing and curse. Overwhelmed by the consistently flowing birthday wishes and presents, I am happy. Perfectly content in this moment of peace and serenity. A high that cannot be snapped or burst by the return of reality that follows tomorrow’s breaking of dawn. And yet as this high swaths me in its peace, I feel a forewarning on the horizon. A year till I am eighteen. A year till…who knows what?

But for now the forewarning sits on the horizon and there it will stay until I am ready to heed its message and reap the benefits and consequences. Today, the sun is coming in bright and candescent; driving the stormy clouds of yesterday into nonexistence. I am hit with that sudden realization that I am no longer sixteen, but seventeen. No one call any longer say that I am sixteen. Peace. Serenity. Joy. Warmed by today’s events, what has happened and what will happen, I am content. Attacked by Winifred, who came at me like a wildebeest in a flurry of hair, she pounced on me singing “Happy Birthday!” So yes, today I am, in fact, perfectly content in this candescent day of pure bliss.

Let’s go blow out those candles…and set of the fire alarm in the process!