When I turned 37, I celebrated my birthday by running across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and eating a Nutella cupcake at CakeLove in DC. I had announced that 37 was to be my “Year of Adventure,” and that I was going to run across as many bridges as possible.
I had just written a piece for Listen to Your Mother DC (it wasn’t selected). I had talked about the invisibility that mothers sometimes feel. My dreams of dying my hair flaming red, and running across The Golden Gate Bridge, and holding that little, glowing piece of me that’s separate from my identity as wife and mother.
Well, I didn’t run across any more bridges this year. Not literal ones, anyway.
I did, however:
1. Push a mini-van with some of my favorite people. Uphill. With my crazy trainer-lady-friend slamming down on the brake. I felt my own strength.
2. I taught my son how to dive, headfirst. He parted those screaming blue waters in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
3. I said goodbye to my last living grandparent. I watched my husband and his family grieve his mother, a process that will continue for the rest of our lives.
4. I sold my house. And my car. I hugged a lot of people, and cried on the car ride home.
5. Oh, and I moved to Spain.
I suppose that’s a decent amount of adventure.
And yet, there are days like today. We bought cauliflower and strawberries at the market. I hung some sheets on the line to dry. My landlady texted me to see if an errant sparrow escaped from my hallway. We tried to go hiking, but we couldn’t find the trailhead and the roundabouts were making me nauseous, and we went home and I took a nap.
And I suppose that’s just the way life works. Yes, there are adventures in all our lives. There are big ones, like moving to a new country, or adopting a child, or falling in love. And there are the milestones—the skydive, the tattoo, the trip to Paris.
But then–there are days when you look at a man you’ve loved for over fifteen years, and say, “I just need to be boring today.” And he kisses you on the forehead, and makes quinoa for the kids, and lets you sleep.
As I approach 38, I still want to be Flaming Red. I still want to find that part of me that is separate and beautiful. I want to dance in a Feria dress, order a tinto in unapologetic Spanish, and kiss the world on both cheeks.
But I want to be okay with evenings in sweatpants, or walks along the shore. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
The world is Flaming Red. I am Flaming Red. It’s all around me, and it is glorious.