After a night of drinking too much Bacardi and Coca Cola, I decided to tackle the mountain of clothing that had invaded my sofa. I opened my closet, always stuffed as I have only one closet in my Mami’s New York apartment, and hooked my leopard print shirt onto my multi-purpose hanger. Suddenly, I heard a snap. A dozen pieces of clothing fell onto the floor. I reached to grab the other hangers, but it was too late. The other hangers shifted and more items fell onto the floor.
It was the ultimate domino effect.
Just like the hanger, I broke. I slid to the floor, gripping the leopard shirt in my right hand, and sobbed, as if my clothing had been burned to the ground. I had an emotional breakdown over a broken hanger. If I were an actress, I’d win an Oscar as the second coming of Mommy Dearest. Only I don’t have any children, and there weren’t any wire hangers.
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The next morning I woke up hung over, thirsty and with puffy eyes. As I put a pillow over my head to block the sun, I asked myself, “Where did that outburst come from? What was that really about?”
It doesn’t take a psychologist to discern that my breakdown had little to do with Bacardi and much to do with my impending 34th birthday. Not too long ago, I promised myself that I’d move out on my own (again) by April 1st. I’d wanted to celebrate my birthday in my own home. Unfortunately, I was unable to move because of lack of funds. On April 16th, I turned 34 years old, while still living with Mami.
And now, I have a serious case of birthday blues.
Birthday blues are defined as a feeling of sadness due to aging another year. Though I personally define my birthday as my personal national holiday, there is definite pressure associated with the big day.
Take Jennifer P. Oquendo, who at 26, felt she hadn’t accomplished enough in her first quarter of life. “I figured that by my late twenties I would be done with graduate school, have an established career and a nice salary and would discuss marriage with my boyfriend at the time,” explained Oquendo. However, things took a different turn. “I turned 26 and I was not yet in graduate school. I was working as a Special Education Assistant Teacher, so you can imagine the pay, and still living at home. And single!”
I feel your pain, Jennifer.
Others, however, feel birthday blues due to unmet expectations. “On my 35th birthday, my girlfriend at the time gave me nada,” David Temkin, 37, admitted. “No card or gift. Just a quick phone call saying, ‘Happy Birthday!’ David felt unappreciated and broke up with the questionable gal two months later. “I expected something that I didn’t receive,” he realized.
I also expected something that I didn’t receive. In my case, I expected to move out by April yet I am still here. That Thursday night after too many Bacardi and Cokes, I realized how disappointed I am in myself and the decisions that have led to the present moment. Just like the hanger, I snapped; I could no longer hold onto the weight that I carried.
Once I realized why I was so negatively affected, I sprung from bed, still hungover, and I made a plan. I put myself on a budget. I am now tracking my earned income and comparing how much I spend, and how much money I need to move out. I also reignited my savings account, or, as I labeled it, my MOVING OUT FUND. As of today, my move out date is June 15. I have already begun researching apartments in New Jersey (the city is much more expensive). As for telling my mother about my move out date, mums the word for now. I know how much it will hurt her. We recently spent Easter with my sister in her New Jersey home and, as Mami gazed at the trees in the front yard, she asked, “Do you like it here?”
I nodded. “I love it here. It’s so quiet, and their house is beautiful.”
She smiled before saying, “Maybe there are apartments here…”
I knew what she was thinking. I could see it in her expression. Mami was plotting a move to New Jersey…with me as her roommate. I didn’t have the heart to tell her otherwise. Not yet. I just walked away without uttering another word. I couldn’t tell her that I had just broken down in tears because of my living arrangements. Because at 34, I am still be living with my mother.
Till June. And certainly not at 35.