Ohhh birthday nostalgia, why must you get me every year?! One could argue that turning 24 is not exactly a life milestone, but the forward-thinking child that I was liked to associate this age with being entirely grown up. Whenever an elementary school teacher asked me about my future career aspirations my mind automatically translated this question to "what do you want to be when you're 24?" Considering I had decades to decide, the possibilities were endless. Silly me, I thought I was destined for marine biology or babysitting. Too bad I am deathly afraid of sea creatures and I wouldn't last a day with 12 plus children to look after. But life is for learning...
As I sit here reminiscing about previous birthdays I think about a simpler time when I wished for simpler things--the 1990s. I was too small to fully remember, but there is one particular picture of me from my 4th birthday where I'm sitting on my bed surrounded by a million new toys. They were the coolest toys! Polly Pockets, Lite Brite, Etch-a-Sketch, plush balls with matching Velcro hats, scented markers, pink and purple Lego, Play-Doh, Cabbage Patch Kids, shapes that adhered to the wall during bath time... 1993 was a fantastic year to be a kid.
On this day in 1997 I would have been living it up in the single digits, waiting for my party guests to arrive and wondering what Beanie Babies I might add to my collection that night. There'd be plenty of Black Forest Cake to go around and my friends and me would smile through missing teeth as we ate it. Orange Crush would surely be a staple and we'd all have pop-coloured moustaches to take home to our parents. I'd be given two Gymnast Barbies. Luckily I could exchange one for Ski Barbie and host my own Olympics.
My brother would sneak into my room, hide under the bed and tape down the Record
button on his Walkie-Talkie. If I tattle-taled, he'd leave kicking and screaming, but with incriminating evidence of who my girlfriends had a crush on. Those were the days when we prank-called boys (with my pretty V-Tech purple portable phone!) and pretended not to know them the minute we started "dating".
Then came responsibility... and by that I mean the Giga Pet. Nothing was worse than seeing your first virtual pet die and knowing full well that it was your fault for not feeding it. My brother's Tamigotchi dinosaur survived weeks after my kitten, which for a brief moment made me doubt my future parenting skills.
In later years, the Spice Girls would become cool, making Chupa Chups lollipops as essential party favour. We all wanted to collect as many stickers as possible to complete our Spice World movie sticker book. Britney Spears blew up blow-up chairs to a whole new level and I was lucky enough to host future parties in inflatable style. Toe socks, glitter gel pens, blo-pens, plastic choker necklaces, stick-on face jewels, Colour Workshop makeup palettes and Lip Smackers were all the rage. I remember playing MASH in my Lisa Frank notebook and then ripping up the page out of embarrassment.
Eventually I started to break away from the toy trends and instead expressed my style in the form of fashion. Denim overalls looked especially superb paired with an over-sized Nike sweater and white Sketchers platform shoes. I was beyond jealous of my friend, Jess; she made history by purchasing platform shoes that doubled as roller skates. I couldn't get them because I lived in the country and we only had gravel for sidewalks 🙁 Sigh. That was the year I liked to use butterfly clips to pin my hair into mini buns all over my head. So pretty.
I knew the 90s were over when I threw out my curly fluorescent shoe laces and every last Skip-It, Bop-It, and Yak-Bak retired to the yard sale bin. Dial-up internet was invented and suddenly my popularity depended on how I conducted myself over MSN. So much for winning over friends by giving them your most cherished Slammer Pog.
If I had any words for my 90s self I'd say to live slow and enjoy every birthday. Fifty is now my new official "grown-up age" because 24 years goes by way too fast!!