Shiralkar: A few happy returns


Columnist Parth Shiralkar writes about birthdays and memories. He says that he wouldn’t go back and change a thing in his life if given the chance. 

Parth Shiralkar

As is the case with several special days that keep cycling through the years, birthdays carry with them this weird vibe. Weird how? You know you’re growing old, you can feel your youth slipping away and it’s scary and a thrill that just hits different.

I’m one of those people who doesn’t like celebrating their birthday. I mean if I wanted to follow a time measuring system developed around a dude with a beard I’d just watch The Big Lebowski with my favorite timestamps marked. But birthdays are nice, like alarm clocks going off on your best dream yet. Plus there’s the whole driver’s license age limit thing. I sifted through a bunch of memories on my most recent one.

Coming home from school after a long day, watching some cartoon while eating the most absolute trash food. Hanging out with my friends before I left for grad school, remembering some of the most vivid acts of stupidity we all partook in, together. Watching the sports kids play football while struggling with my own thoughts. Skipping college classes to go play Counter-Strike with the chill guy who owned the cybercafe and walking home alone late at night, unsure of what exactly it is that feels off but knowing that something does.

Vague memories of a late night drive with no destination in my mind but the best music in the world on my dashboard. I recall a night in Colorado I spent a solid couple of hours late in the evening at a diner, by myself, chilling. At this rate I’ll probably add the word “wanderlust” to my LinkedIn account. I love the smell of a sense of belonging – somewhere in a clique, FOMO, all that stuff – in the morning.

If I were given the chance I would go back and change exactly zero things in my life. I cannot risk not watching Indiana Jones for the first time all over again. Nostalgia is very, very strange as a concept. Something that already happened keeps popping up in the back of your head and giving you the feels. Some strong memories that make you act up sometimes. Did Jason Bourne feel this way 24/7? I wonder.

I take a slight amount of comfort in knowing that growing old is a part of life, that it is but inevitable that I’ll go to sleep in this world one day and not wake up again here. Maybe anywhere. Unlikely as it may seem, the weather in Ames has been gorgeous for a few days. I’ll probably take a long walk around campus, listening to some nice mallsoft music. Stay hydrated.