Let’s celebrate. Cheers to another year. My birthday was a few days ago. Even my parents did not remember, yeah even my mother who pushed me into this life. Only my Nairobi family, remembered. When I say I am blessed, it is real. In Nairobi, it is very difficult for a stranger to welcome you into their house with two arms and a heart. Well my Nairobi family did. That is a story for another day, meaning never. I remember when I quit my job some years ago because my school schedule would not allow me to work and study. I felt lost. Of course I had a plan. We all have plans right? Seldom do these plans go as planned. My plan failed miserably. I have never recounted that plan to anyone. I had rehashed it like a hundred times but it still failed. For a while I lived with my Nairobi family.
Back to milestones. I have only once tried to celebrate my birthday but I drunk myself silly. I hardly drink. This ended up as an unmarked milestone since I passed out. I woke up safely tucked in my bed, in my sleeping clothes, without shoes and a bra. I looked at my roommate with very judging eyes. Like why in the world would you change a grown ass woman? Daphne* I am still mad at you. Apart from that one, all my birthdays always pass without any hoolabaloo.I have lately developed a habit of running away from any promise of a celebration. I always schedule a trip to Meru or somewhere and if I am working the better. I have tried to decipher why but I still cannot. I am the most awkward person in a party or for the first time you meet me. If you do not put in an effort you will hate me because I cannot hold a conversation. I try small talk but it always backfires and I look like I always have a plastic smile more of a smirk.
When I graduated from college “twice”, I made a very strong case as to why my parents, or anyone else, couldn’t attend. It’s too far for you guys to come and you all will sit under the sun and I will just stand up for recognition and that’s all. My dad is a little like me so he was like if that is what you want then that’s fine. I intentionally avoid reminding the people in my life about my milestones. I would rather they pass fast so I can go back to my normal life. It has worked so far. I have no regrets whatsoever. But then again, I appreciate all those who celebrate all their milestones and have parties with them as the reason. They have memories complete with evidence, including photographic. When you get older you look back at the photos and remember how Sam* was drunk silly and made you hella happy on your 19th birthday. You remember how Nelly* dumped her boyfriend for a fling at your graduation. You remember how Alicia* met the love of her life at your ruracio. Can someone avoid their own ruracio? I would if I could. I should throw a thanksgiving party for all those moments or something. I am a genius with all this ideas. I would call them missed moments but they aren’t because I have all of them tucked safely in my brain and maybe one day I will recreate a diary of them on this blog.
Do not be afraid of celebrating a birthday or mark a milestone. It’s the only thing that will tell you how many battles you have won. Life is flimsy so live each day like it’s your last but plan for tomorrow. What an oxymoron. I have lost so many friends and family these past two years it feels like an apocalypse. So every chance you get celebrate life. My mother always tells me, “Kendi thank the Lord each day and do not be afraid of tomorrow.” I used to be worried especially when I quit a job a few years back but my mum said, “You walked to nursery and completed to class eight. You went to high school. You have finished college, “twice”. You passed exceptionally in all these stages. Take life in your stride, accept where you are now and do not compare yourself with anyone. If your friends and age mates are getting married, getting new jobs, moving to new countries, getting promotions and the only thing you can write home about is how you woke up made breakfast and did your dishes appreciate the new day. Others are dying, sick or other misfortunes have befallen them. People only celebrate good things and no one acknowledges misfortunes. Do not for a minute give up or lose hope. When someone gives you a chance give your 100% and leave the rest to God. He has brought you this far.” I’m older now so I appreciate my mother a lot more. Then she stops talking and starts telling me about her drying maize in the shamba. My mother is the classic upcountry parent. She encourages you and pumps you up then tells you how poorly her plants are doing. Or how Simba her dog died and Lilly the cat fell in the toilet.
There is a reason, we meet the people in our lives. Your amazing boss, your shitty colleagues, your terrible boss,the Makanga at the bus station, your mechanic, your crush, your mama nguo … All these people walk into our lives for a reason. Except your crush. You are never going to meet Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, Jesse Williams or Idris Elba. Never! And even if you were to meet them you will be so star struck they will walk away before you can swallow the saliva blocking your speech. Appreciate all those people you meet. When your car breaks down one day your terrible boss will be on the road with you and he/she will give you a ride and ensure your car is towed to safety.
Also acknowledge who you are becoming as you grow older. But do not rush life. It will happen at its own pace. If it’s not meant to happen it will not. It just won’t. If it is meant to happen the universe will conspire with your ancestors to make it happen. This does not say you do not try. Oh no, you do your best every day. You wake up take a shower and show up. Even if you have nowhere to be because you are broke and idle, shower and be ready. Remember Seve Kinya? She photoshoped her way to China, literally. Someone else’s formula will not work for you but you can go to your China in your own journey. Milestone or no milestone, celebration or lack thereof grind your coffee beans and make your own coffee.
By the way I am not jolly Joy. I have to work extra hard to even look pleasant. I love basking in my own misery, so it’s okay to feel under the weather but don’t let yourself live there. Take your time to be sad but if it’s too long we’ll come bury you. The world doesn’t care if you don’t. If you don’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps you will die a peasant.