Every year I line up a big stack of really incredible, much-anticipated books to read while winter slumps into spring. Then, I go on a book-reading bender. I stay up past my bedtime, I walk around the house clutching an open book, reading it as I put dishes into the dishwasher, sass the cat or just walk from one part of the house to another. I carry a book with me everywhere, reading for two minutes before my yoga class, reading while my computer restarts, reading, reading, reading.
I spent the last four minutes of the Shamrock Half Marathon telling myself not to cry. I’d done the math. I knew I’d made it, knew I was about to set a new personal record and so, when we turned right at the Atlantic Ocean, hit the boardwalk and pushed toward the finish line, my chest tightened, my eyes watered and I felt a lot of things.
Today, I am 35.
I feel simultaneously very old and very young, which, depending on who you ask, is exactly right. I feel grown up, but not all grown up. I feel like I’ve done a lot, but I know there’s still a lot left to do.
The day I turned 34, I hiked into the Grand Canyon then took myself to dinner in Flagstaff. I told the couple next to me, newly retired, that it was my birthday and we talked about growing up and aging. I told them how much I liked my 30s, how I gave fewer fucks and didn’t spend my days stressing about inconsequential bullshit, how I really liked the woman I was becoming.
Mercury is in retrograde and I’m about to turn 35. Here’s a few of my favorite things.
To be a total hipster dick about it, I’ve been following the Iditarod every March for the past 20 or so years. It’s a pre-birthday tradition of mine, to watch this 1,000-mile dog sled race unfold via the internets. I love it and it’s the only sport I can talk somewhat intelligently about.
I really, really needed this trip. I needed to get out of town, to put on my pack and walk into the woods. I needed to spend a few hours in the car, music up and windows down. I needed to be alone in the woods, to take myself to dinner, to drink new beers, to catch up with one of my oldest friends. I just needed to go.
After I wrote about a few recent hikes in Shenandoah National Park, Kate left a comment asking if I’d consider writing about my hiking gear, if I had any specific recommendations for someone interested in embarking on a forest scamper.
At first I giggled. I’m a native forest creature, yes, a girl raised by wolves who ran barefoot through the wildness nearly every day of my youth, but hiking still feels like a new hobby. I’m still acquiring stuff to make my hikes more comfortable, more enjoyable and that will allow me to go further and deeper into the wild. When I read her comment, I felt wholly unprepared to offer any sort of advice.
I don’t even want to talk about the crazy shit that’s been going down in Virginia this past week, so let’s focus on the good stuff, deal?
FRENCH PRESS COFFEE.
I’m not always a coffee drinker. I go through phases every few years, picking up a daily coffee habit, weaving it into my daily routine and then, just because, I’ll quit the shit and live a life mostly caffeine-free, minus an occasional cup of tea.
I’ve had an assortment of finance-related conversations with my lady friends in the last few months. We’ve talked about how much money we’re making, how much debt we’re carrying, how much we’re spending on life essentials, like rent, food and random Sephora purchases. We’ve talked about how we do and don’t budget, if and how we’re saving for retirement and I’ve found it refreshing, this open conversation on money.
As I looked around at my life’s recent additions this week I realized most of them are things I’ve resisted, things I’ve even sassed and snarked about.
“I don’t need that,” I’d say, scowling like almost always. Or I’d declare I just simply can’t, can’t wake up early enough to go to the gym before work, can’t keep additional things alive in my house. Can’t, with a side of don’t fucking wanna.
I didn’t originally plan to exclusively read books written by women in 2018, at least not in the beginning. In the beginning, I just started reading. Then it was February, I was dutifully logging my latest reads on Goodreads, as I’ve done for past decade or so, and I realized all seven of the books I’d read in 2018 were written by women.