I must admit that this is the most 23 I’ve ever felt.
I reckon there are some sure-fire signs of growing up and for me, one of them is certainly the lack of discrepancy between the age I feel and the age I am or am about to turn (though it’s an entirely subjective measure anyway). On my 21st birthday I was absolutely bombarded with messages. Someone even said to me that they’ve never known someone to receive so many personalised birthday messages which I took as a super-compliment. It was a show… your third year of university where this fake popularity is heightened, living in a place with so many other students, bumping into people you know on your two minute trip to tesco express, weary eyed and messy haired, running societies, running the computer cluster, laughing, living and relishing the bubble you spent three years creating.
Two years down the line, I have received less than half that number of messages. No one knows who I am anymore. I’m not a product of what I’ve done with my spare time outside of medicine in a way that was once so important to me. I’m just Gowri. Gowri, surrounded and fiercely loved by a small but insanely significant group of people. And as I revel in this feeling of growing up I also notice how comfortable it is. How secure it is. How good it feels to shed old insecurities and how growth is happening all the time. It makes me wonder who on earth I’ll be at 24 and who will still be messaging me that day. It fills me with profound joy that the people I inevitably end up hearing from are ones who quite literally light up my life.
And in the spirit of incredible gratitude, what can I do but lay it all down in the way I know best?
A&A- I have nothing to say to the two of you other than that you are my everything, you’ve given me everything, you’ve supported me endlessly through every endeavour and you have always, always loved me even when I’m so unloveable and there is no way I could ever pay you guys back for any of it. You two have taught me by example. You are legends in my eyes.
A- Out of everyone I’ve met in the last five years, I never quite felt that click the way I felt it with you. It was instant. Several brownies, earl greys, clinics, breakdowns, breakups, and drunken nights later, I can safely say that we have shared moments together that I will absolutely never forget. I love you to pieces, my little ball of fire.
A– Thankyou so freaking much for all those late night therapy sessions in your corsa and never saying no to a Sponty. I’ll always have what you’re having.
A- I love you beyond compare and you’ll always be my baby. Thanks for all the cake, all the luck and all the love you’ve poured onto me while I watch you chase your dreams, glowing with pride.
A- To go from being a girl who I thought I could never be friends with in a million years to becoming a sister is no mean feat. You really have bent over backwards for me and as little as I say it, I honestly love you in every way, even when you give me anxiety.
B- Angel muffin, lumpfish, mushroom. How could I ever repay you for transferring me emergency cash on a whim, feeding me cake as I fester in my dressing gown, taking your car because you secretly hate my driving, curing my every ailment with a strong flow of beverages and simply always being there for me, even when you can’t understand me? You have invested more in me than any friend I have ever had and I am completely full of appreciation for all of it.
K- Thanks for inspiring me to write this.
K, M, V & V- I am profoundly blessed to have grown with you, grown closer to you and grown stronger from you. We are unbreakable.
MC- You got a post to yourself so I’m not even going to bother. You know exactly who you are to me. Thank you.
M- It isn’t in our nature to profess our love for one another. When I think of you, the feeling that bubbles up inside me is just one of total comfort, familiarity and complete and utter presence no matter where you are. There’s no real way to articulate what a decade of deep friendship does to two people so I’ll stop now as this is already feeling uncomfortable. I do splits on trees.
M- You are the brother I’ve never had. I love you so much and want everything in the world for you that’s good. I know you’ll never read this but the degree to which you care for me means everything to me. And when you’re drunk and start with your ‘Gowri, if anyone messes with you I’ll beat the shit out of them,’ speech… it melts my heart.
M- Thankyou for always being so cool, for making me laugh so much and for sprinkling your magic all over my life. I don’t think you realise how much I actually think you are an amazing person with one of the best hearts I’ve ever known. I’ve never told you that. I think you are incredible.
M&P- Thankyou for treating me as no less than your second daughter. I love you both so much.
P- Thanks for believing in me when my confidence has been rock bottom, taking my bawling 6am phone-call from Australia and most of all… for teaching me how to pelvic thrust.
R- Thanks for showing me how it’s meant to be. I’m not letting you go.
S- Thanks for being both my hero and my celebration.
S– You are the single most important person in my whole life and I will drop everyone and everything for you even though you are so annoying and that new hairstyle you keep wearing is diabolical. That means bad. Look it up.
S- Thanks for ensuring that I will always be 5 years old even when I’m 40.
I don’t know how I got so lucky.
Happy Birthday, Gowri.