About 20.989 years ago, my life was spared. My mom had some complications with her pregnancy and almost lost me.

And then 9.997 years after I was born, on the day before I turned double digits for my big 1-0, a student volunteer at my elementary school opened the passenger-side door for me after school but for some reason that day my mom told me to sit in the back. On our way home, a reckless driver sped through a red light and crashed into my mom’s car on the passenger side, deploying every airbag around the front seat and totaling a pretty sturdy BMW in the intersection. My mom’s injuries were pretty serious; my most vivid memory is the massive bruise that ran down the entire right side of her thigh that required months of treatment.

I was the lucky one that day. As a kid I was afraid of getting scolded for not doing what I knew I was supposed to do. When the firefighter asked whether I was wearing a seat belt, I remember that I was so scared that I lied and said yes when I in fact didn’t. I lived to see another day, again. I even got to watch Pokemon while waiting for my mom in the hospital that afternoon. Had someone driven the flimsy Accord that day, had my mom not waved off that student worker who opened the front door for me, had I sat in the front seat without a seat belt on, I don’t think I would still be alive right now. The following day was my 10th birthday and I remember looking at the candy and balloons around my desk, wondering how the whole world knew about the car accident. When my teacher wished me a happy birthday, I suddenly remembered that it was the day I had been looking forward to for the past two months. I even forgot about the Disneyland trip planned for that weekend.

I feel like there is social pressure to “have fun”, in other words, binge drink for my birthday every year especially in a few days for my 21st but I really don’t see how that is fun or even entertaining at the moment. I’ve actually lost a friend to a drunk driver, and this still affects me all the time. The best thing I ever got was my life and I was even fortunate enough not to lose it after all these years. I really don’t feel like recklessly hurting myself just to entertain my friends on MY day. It just doesn’t make sense.

I don’t even want any presents. For my birthday this year all I really want to do is wake up early at the crack of dawn, go for a jog, grab pizza on Pizza Tuesday with my friends, and maybe cook a little. Honestly, I don’t think I sound like an old boring fart at all. I think people who think I have to be morbidly drunk to enjoy life need to get a hobby.

Moving out of my apartment in San Diego this summer felt extremely bittersweet for some reason that I just can’t put my finger on. Normally during the hectic scramble to clean, pack, and move out before a designated lease-end date puts me under a lot of the typical stress that college students have familiarized themselves with over the years. However, this time when I packed everything up in my car and headed towards the interstate 5 headed northbound, I couldn’t help but gaze back at the place that I’ve come to call my second home.

Fall of 2008 feels like just yesterday, when I first started my freshman year in college. In a few weeks, I will be studying abroad at the University of British Columbia living on my own for the first time in addition to clinging onto the last moments of my college career as a senior! Perhaps the reason I lingered in San Diego before moving away this time was because I know that I won’t get to see my friends this fall quarter and then upon my return, I will have only two more quarters before I finally graduate and leave for good. Also, my coworkers threw me a surprise going away party at the office and we also had a campus-wide faculty picnic that gave me a slight sense of closure; a feeling of departure. I’m really going to miss working at this office because my boss and all the coworkers were such sweet, unique people who were great to work with, and also amazing mentors who really took the time to help me grow both professionally, and as a person throughout the year.

I decided to get my coworkers a little present before leaving, and as I was walking back to the office I couldn’t help but notice all the small, minute details of the campus that I had overlooked during my last three years. I felt like an eager freshman again standing right in the center of the university looking around with excitement at my surroundings. I was seeing UC San Diego in the way the brochures portray it to be– I saw myself sitting under the trees chatting with a friend over coffee, sitting on the blocks outside Center Hall desperately cramming before an exam, and even looked at the library where I’ve spent so many hours of my life. I saw the last couple years of my life flash before my eyes in a romantic fashion, and started missing my campus while standing a couple feet away from Gilman Drive.

Anyway, I’m feeling a bit anxious about the start of my final year as an undergraduate student. I guess this weird feeling of ambivalence is just a sign that something amazing is about to happen and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead of me during my final year.

August 2022

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