Happy Birthday, daughter. I'm thinking about you today, and how all the clichés about children growing up so quickly are not really clichés at all. Time really is a fluid mass without markers. We were in Joshua Tree, and Dad and Mekko were climbing high up on the rocks. You and I stayed down below, with you in a baby carrier facing front, my coat wrapped around both of us. You were one. We had the whole place to ourselves. I couldn't believe how big your brown eyes were, so focused and attentive, full of language that you couldn't yet speak. We danced around on the rocks, you bouncing in your carrier, and for me, this is when we bonded. I know, everyone says you have to bond right after birth or else, but it happened here: I hadn't had the time before, because I was so crazed with mothering. But here, in the quivering, shifting light of Joshua Tree, we recognized each other. Mother daughter. I remember it like it was yesterday.
And now it's today. You're 21. With all your friends, your brother, your lover, your rats, your house, your new courses, your final semester of junior year, your dreams your fears your plans your travels your plans to travel. I know it wasn't easy to get to this place. But you did it. You're 21 with merit... you deserve 21, and 21 deserves you. You do 21 proud. In fact, twenty-one was waiting for someone like you.