The Almost Birthday

2:37 PM

   Originally I wanted to write this post and share all the fun things I did this weekend, but I guess as soon as I sat down to actually type them out, I was overwhelmed with something else. I suppose it had something to do with how I pretty much do that every weekend. We did this and it was fun and I love him. It's the same thing over and over, but it's still important. So rather than it being too boring to post, it was more that it had me thinking about the larger picture. How this is our life and these things are the defining moments. It's who we are.

Ryan and I are adventurers. We are travelers, get-in-the-car-and-goers, gas station food eaters, grab your flip-flops later 'cause we're leavin' now-ers. My twenties have thus far been spent largely with my arms wrapped around his waist, hanging on tight, on the back of his motorcycle while he's floorin' (does that even make sense on a motorcycle?) it on a back country road at dusk. I've watched the speedometer rise exponentially while praying oh-sweet-baby-jesus-lord-god-almighty please don't let a deer jump out of that corn field.

We have hopped in the car when it is dark out, let the windows down and blared Johnny Cash from the speakers.
We prefer to see the world with our own eyes.
I'm a reader, oh Lawd, am I a reader! but I refuse to experience the world from the pages of a book alone. I want to smell the midwest and taste the south and feel the west. My feet need to sink into the white sand that greets the big oceans and my hands must reach out to the sun that kindly covers all of us, no matter where we are. Imagine! We all have the sun.

We've seen some incredible things. We've watched the sun slip behind the edge of a horizon full of water. We've watched aligators swim in the dank steamy puddle just feet before us. We've seen Hogwarts Castle and Whoville at Christmas time. We've driven through incredible canyons in Arizona that are so completely awesome, pictures cannot do them justice. I've stepped in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and felt the immensity of something larger than myself.

This weekend, we traveled. We hopped in a car and just went. We drove slowly, stopped often, and saw pieces of the world that we've never seen before. We ate at a mom'n'pop. We took the back roads. We went without music, because every single day of the week, conversation keeps a better beat. It's the melody that gets stuck in your head without ever becoming tiring. I tried to return to Lisbon Falls, where I have been many times thanks to Stephen King, but I couldn't do it. I was too immersed in the great midwest to bury my nose in any book, even one written by the King. The sun was shining too invitingly and smalltown America was screaming look at me! with every tiny town we coasted through. The old buildings and lamp posts and signs and cars were practically begging, let me tell you about 1974 or '62, or '89 or '57. I decided to leave Lisbon Falls for another time. One where I will be cuddled up on my couch with a blanket while it rains outside and my hand is curled around a hot cup of tea. Yes, that is the day that I'll return to Lisbon Falls.

I guess I've been thinking about this, these things that define me, because I am about to embark upon a new year. This is my twenty-fourth summer and I want to greet it with a firmer knowledge of who this girl is and who she is becoming. I'm almost halfway through my twenties--I never imagined what it would feel like to be this age, never imagined I'd be trying to define myself and figure out what makes me different from everyone else at an age that the younger me considered grotesquely "grown up."

My identity has changed over the years because I have changed. I've grappled with trying to find myself within the changes. I remember when I realized that I could no longer identify as a teenager. Identity crisis. I became a twenty-something, a thing I'm comfortable with now, but I had to adjust. I became a dog mom--ask any of my friends, nobody saw that one coming. I didn't become famous and I never will. That was something that just washed over me yesterday. Really. It just became real to me that I will never be famous and I have shelved the idea that I will ever hop on a plane and try my luck in Hollywood. I don't know that I ever believed that I would, but I decided yesterday that it is a faraway dream that I will never again entertain.

Goodbye first aspiration, ever.

Last year I entered twenty-three with the cool knowledge that I am imperfect. I was in love and I was a college student. I defined myself by those things. I am still imperfect and I am still in love, but I am no longer a college student. Hello, another identity crisis. Big crisis. I've indentifed as a student since that fall day in 1993 when I walked into Mrs. Holtrop's kindergarten classroom. One day this summer, I woke up and was missing a part of myself. It was the part that buys new pens and pads of paper in the fall. The part that touches a hundred new backpacks at Target before settling on the one she had all along sitting in the backseat of the car.

Twenty-four is knocking on my door and I am still trying to figure out who twenty-four-year-old-Jenn is. She ain't a student, that's for sure.

There are still two days before the door on twenty-three slams shut so hard and tightly that I'll never again be able to pry it open again no matter much I try. This year will be gone and I will leave twenty-three-year-old-Jenn there. These two days will be damn lengthy and full of wonder, but come Wednesday, I will have a definition, dammit.

We'll see how that goes.

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