Eighteen

Kings Cross’s famous Coca-Cola sign

I am having a significant birthday next year. Turning a significant age. I am not sure how I feel about it, but I can tell you this, I am not jumping for joy. Every time someone asks me what I am doing for this birthday, it feels like a little stab in my heart. I mean, I not that long ago celebrated a birthday. Stop ageing me! I am not ready to say goodbye to the age bracket I am currently in. I’ve always struggled with leaving an age group behind and moving into another one. I have no idea why. I guess it might come down to the fact that I have never felt the age I was. I always felt older and when I finally caught up with that age, I’d freak out. Go figure.

Looking back I have to say there was one significant birthday I loved, and actually counted down for; my eighteenth birthday. In Australia, this means you’re a bona fide adult. It is legal to buy alcohol and hit the bars and clubs once you turn this magic number, so needless to say, most of our teenage years were spent counting down to this monumental day.

My eighteenth birthday fell on a Saturday. I had a little BBQ with the family during the day and then for the night itself, I hit the town with a few of my friends who were of the same age…or at least looked it. These friends never got asked for ID. I always did. We jumped on a train and headed into the City — more specifically Sydney’s Kings Cross. Back then, Kings Cross was the place to celebrate turning eighteen and then spend every weekend at thereafter. It was a mix of clubs, bars, strip joints, fast food outlets and downright seediness. There was something to be found no matter where you looked. I was feeling a mixture of both nerves and excitement but I couldn’t wait to check it out.

Walking up from the train station and turning onto the main drag, I was greeted with the huge, lit up ‘Coca-Cola’ sign that the Cross was famous for. There was a little bar pretty much underneath it and I could hear ‘The Walk’ by The Cure playing. A huge fan at the time (still am) it was a wonderful welcome — I knew I was in for a great night. I still think of that night and smile whenever I hear that song. A few bars later, we end up in a nightclub where I am being shouted drinks merely for having a birthday. A rainbow of drinks was on offer, full of alcohol the likes of which my liver had never encountered, and all my drunk little brain could think was ‘This is so awesome!’ I danced, laughed and mingled with people from all walks of life. A few hours later, I had my head down one of the most disgusting toilet bowls I had ever encountered, throwing up, from said drinks. I then threw up on the train ride home in the wee hours. I felt terrible and due to the fact my birthday was in the dead of winter, I was freezing. I sobered up pretty quickly. I spent the following Sunday suffering from the worst hangover that, up until that point, I had ever experienced. Still, I couldn’t wait to do it all again.

I look back at that birthday as a good one. I had fun, I met new, different people and a whole new world was opened up to me. It was exciting. Sure, it sounds a little seedy but that’s what youth is for. I wouldn’t change a thing about that night. In fact, I’d give anything to be that age again. But I feel we all wish we could have our time again at some stage.

Who knows, maybe I’ll look at this next birthday with the same fondness one day? And maybe I’ll learn that I just can’t mix drinks. Maybe.

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