My 21st birthday though, I remember, surprising as that may be. I bought two beers to celebrate my age - both Red Stripe. I remember settling upon Red Stripe because I figured it would be light enough to abstain from offending my college-adapted, Natty-chugging taste buds, but classy enough (think glass bottle) to be fit for someone of age. A girl and I drank the beers on the edge of the Great Harbor in Woods Hole as the snow began to pile up on the docks and settle over the sail boats moored on the water. I got an idea.
I unlocked my kayaks from their jury-rigged locks against the side of my apartment and dragged them up the hill in the snow. We were going kayak sledding.
On my final run, I steered the boat onto the snowy launch ramp at the end of the hill with only a few slight hiccups (aka dents in bottom of the craft), and slid down the ramp into the bay. The night was dark, but the snow was white, reflecting the light put out by my headlamp. The sailboats were abandoned, waiting for their owners to come back for them. The air was crisp. I felt alive.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was onto something. 22 and 23 reverted to the same old celebratory shenanigans I can’t remember, but 24 was memorable. I got up at 6am on a cold morning and went with my climbing partner to a new spot - Paradise Forks. I had only been face climbing poorly for about a month at the time, but I toproped a 5.9 hand crack and he told me that it was the best he had seen me climb. I was in love with crack climbing, and to this day, I doubt I will ever find a climbing area I love more.
At 25, I visited Sequoia National Park for the first time. I jumped up and down like a little kid.
So when I asked her what we should do for her 25th birthday, offering up that we had been invited to get on a permit for an 8-day backpacking trip through the Grand Canyon, I was pretty sure she would turn it down. The permit was held by my friend Peter, who was taking a birthday trip himself into the Grand Canyon to turn 60 years old on January 3rd.
“I want to see the Grand Canyon for the first time with you for my birthday,” she told me. What!? So I hadn’t seen that coming. But Danielle was sure of it - it was different than her normal, outside of the comfort zone, and unclear as to whether she would actually enjoy backpacking since she had been on only a single overnight trip in the past. At the very least, she explained to me, it would be something she would remember forever. Right on.
We all have dreams. But they don’t mean much don’t act on them. If we put them in a drawer we label ‘Someday...’ for when we think we’ll have more time. I try to get out there, to go to amazing places, to have incredible conversations with incredible people. I think it all adds up somewhere. And when it does, you’re not doing something, you’re being something. And what I want to be is happy, excited, and inspired. Today, I’m 35. That last rope length, that’s for me, for the next 35. Because I don’t want to say I wish. I want to say damn... that was awesome.
What are you doing for your birthday?