Teen Talk: Thankful for 18 years of life and ethnic food


This fine week of January marks a momentous occasion for the Echt family. This occasion occurred earlier this week on Monday, the 26th of January; and may I say how grateful I am of being able to tell everyone that I am now a voting member of society. I turned 18 this week, though most of my celebrations will be today (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday), because having a birthday on a Monday is pretty lame, simply because you can’t actually do much on a Monday.

I’ve never really been one to celebrate my birthdays with parties and giant cakes because I didn’t really have a lot of friends here in Canyon Lake, since I went to school in Riverside (where my grandma used to babysit me when I was little). But my parents always did something for my birthdays and I always got presents and love and affection and presents.

On my 10th birthday, I was in the 5th grade – and to make a huge deal about it I actually brought my entire class a whole bunch of cupcakes. I remember my feeling of superiority since I had an extra digit in my age, being 10, where those other plebeians were only 9. I mean, no offense, but that’s what I actually thought back then. In hindsight, that’s probably another reason I never had friends.

The next significant birthday was when I was 13, finally a teenager in the 8th grade. If I remember correctly, that was the year where my birthday tradition began: on my birthday we would go out and enjoy the cultural foods of the world. That year wasn’t entirely cultural, however, as it was just a plain sushi bar where I loved to eat.

On that note, I had discovered my love for food and all things exotic when it came to food. There was also the sense of pride that came with becoming a teenager, and all the wonderful perks: voice cracks, acne, awkward growth, having to actually shave the three hairs on my chin, and a stupid amount of testosterone that made absolutely everything into a competition.

Turning 16 in my sophomore year was pretty huge for various reasons. The biggest was probably my car, when I was old enough to actually get a license. I’d been practicing for days and months with just my permit, but once I turned 16 I tried for the plastic card of freedom.

Sadly, freedom eluded me for a couple of weeks afterward; but for the most part, I can say that I got it around my birthday. I mean, a month later isn’t too far away, you know. I’m absolutely certain that counts, not bitter about it at all.

And talking about saltiness, 16 was the year where we went out for some serious Asian exploration. My family went out to get a bowl of authentic ramen at a place in Orange County, and then we went to some drink shop around there to get some Boba, an array of drinks that have these small, chewy balls of what seems to be tapioca. I still love drinking that stuff today, and that ramen house remains a favorite of my family.

We also ordered these octopus fritters that hurt to eat, but were so good that you just had to keep eating. I think that was my favorite year in terms of food.

When I was 17, nothing too big happened. I went and bought a rated M video game from a local game store (don’t worry, the game is based on Tolkien fantasy, nothing bad) and didn’t really do much else as it was a Sunday. In fact, Sundays are almost exactly like Mondays, except you get to sleep in.

Anyway, last year we ended up going to a Korean barbecue in Tustin, which was so delicious and neat. A Korean barbecue is a place where you get raw meat delivered to your table, and then you use a grill on your table to cook it yourself. Simple, yet beautiful.

And now I’m 18, senior year, planning on college. This year, I finally have enough friends to hang out with, and we’re planning to go to Buffalo Wild Wings today (Friday) and then go to an after-party at my friend’s house.

As for my family, well, we’re going for some Spanish tapas, where you order small portions of a lot of different foods for variety. I can only be grateful for all I’ve been given, have gotten, and that which I hope to gain. And I am most grateful for my friends and family, who have done all they could to support me through these years.

Thank you for a wonderful 18 years of life!


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