My 34th Birthday, 4 Things I’ve Learned & the Grand Canyon

On my 30th birthday I went alone to a nearby state park and wandered into the woods.

It was a strange time. I’d been back from an eye-opening and heart-filling cross country road trip with one of my best friends for a few weeks and, almost as soon I’d returned from that adventure, my husband confessed his infidelity and told me of his plans to marry his mistress.

Two years ago, when I turned 32, I was getting ready to deploy. The night of my birthday was my very last night of freedom before leaving home for the next year.

This year, for my 34th birthday, I went to Arizona. On Monday, my actual birthday, I hiked below the rim at the Grand Canyon.

Turning 34 || terragoes.com

It was the sixth park I visited during my Arizona trip, but I’d saved it for my birthday. I wanted to be there on the actual day of my birth, wanted to hike into canyon on that day and feel all my birthday feels in that place.

Afterwards, I drove back to Flagstaff and went to a brewery for dinner. I talked to the older couple who sat next to me at the bar about my trip, about why I was there, what I was doing and, of course, that it was my birthday.

“Oh! Happy Birthday! You have to let us buy you a beer,” they said.

I thanked them, told them I couldn’t drink another beer because beer hits hard when you’re 7,000 feet above sea level, especially when the beer is a 7% ABV IPA.

“A to-go beer then. We’re definitely getting you a to-go beer,” they said. “Wait – how old are you?”

“I’m 34,” I said, smiling at their beer-buying pursuits.

“Oh! You’re so young,” they said.

“I know,” I said, explaining that 22-year-old me would have disagreed, that she would have declared me so old, but that I’d finally stopped lamenting my birthdays. “My 30s have been fucking great,” I said.

“It just keeps getting better too,” they told me. “Just wait until your 40s. You’ll see.”

Turning 34 || terragoes.com

FOUR LESSONS I’VE LEARNED  IN MY 34 YEARS

1. IT [probably] DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER.

When I was in college I spent a lot of timed worried about inconsequential bullshit. Like where to put my hands and how to swing my arms while I walked across campus. Seriously.

At 34, I give significantly fewer fucks. This has been the great gift of my 30s, I think, this newly-acquired ability to care less about the dumb shit that used to keep me up at night.

Yes, there are big things in life that matter. Friends, family, dogs, the occasional cat, adventures, hopes and dreams and all that good stuff. But life also includes a whole bunch of bullshit that is not worth your time, like worrying about how you swing your arms when you walk or how you are perceived by strangers. It doesn’t fucking matter if some stranger in Target thinks you’re a lunatic or you get side-eye from a blonde 22-year-old in a Grand Canyon bathroom because your shoes are covered in mud.

Turning 34 || terragoes.com

2. TAKE THE LONG ROAD, THE HARD TRAIL & THE MUDDY PATH.

It’s always worth it to do the hard thing, to get a little bit dirty, to drive the extra miles along the scenic route. You’re not ever going to regret seeing and doing great things, I promise.

Turning 34 || terragoes.com

3. UTERUSES BEFORE DUDERUSES.

Growing up, I was always the girl with a lot of boy friends. In first grade I even teamed up with two boy bullies to form a fearsome triad of evil. Later, life in the Army provided me with handfuls of boy friends, but lady friends were rare. Then I started blogging and it introduced me to so many incredible, beautiful and brilliant women who have become some of my closest friends.

These women supported me through my divorce, invited me to run a 200-mile relay race through the Napa Valley, dragged me across the country on a whirlwind road trip, greeted me at finish lines, encouraged me to take my first solo trip, to write more, to do the things that scared me. They’ve held me while I’ve cried, kept me up all night drinking wine, singing show tunes and telling stories. They’ve been there for holidays, around my dining table at Thanksgiving and they’ve invited me into their homes for Christmas.

These are the women I want to grow old with. These are my soul mates, the ladies who make life brighter and more full.

Turning 34 || terragoes.com
4. GO OUTSIDE.

Going outside is good for me. There’s the Vitamin D thing and the fresh air thing and the exercise thing, but it’s more than that. I’m not a religious person, but going into the wilderness is like church for me. It’s where I feel good, where I feel safe and empowered and better.


“Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.” — David Bowie

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21 comments Add yours
  1. <3 Happy birthday, Terra! So glad you got to have this adventure on your birthday. I have yet to go visit the Grand Canyon and your pictures are giving me wanderlust.

  2. okay first of all that bitch in the grand canyon bathroom should be getting side-eyed for NOT having mud on her boots because it’s the FUCKING GRAND CANYON and second of all, i love you a whole grand canyon’s worth and then some, and i can’t wait for us to be old ladies doing ridiculous shit together forever. <3

    1. She was a terrible creature before, and I just laughed because SERIOUSLY IT IS THE GRAND CANYON, YOU STUPID DUMMY. But yes, I love you too and I look forward to being old and crass with you.

  3. It sounds like you had an awesome trip. I’m so jealous of all of your photos. Wish I could have seen ya. Maybe next time.

  4. I loved this and I love you and this post makes me want to meet you in some national park and/or run another stupid 200-mile relay race in a van. <3 <3

  5. So much yes to all these!! I’m a year and a half out from forty now, and laugh when I think about how, back when I was 29 turning 30, I thought I would be DREADING this time period. Instead, my 30s have been the most awesome years of my life and I am SOOO looking forward to my 40s. Cheers to you for taking yourself on an adventure for your birthday and collecting what sounds like some truly awesome lady friends. Happy birthday!!

  6. Happy birthday, my friend. I always values & learn so much from your blog insight – & this is one of your best, I think. Wishing you a very happy 34th year.

  7. Happy birthday again, Terra. You live lie to the fullest. Keep doing this…. and I’d be happy to be one of those old ladies by your side 😉 Girlfriends are really the best.

  8. Pingback: 35. | Terra Goes

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