On Birthdays

A week ago I turned 28. Completed my 28th year, my father would correct if he were here. I spent it on a boat sailing the Ohio River. It was a friend’s boat, or a friend’s father’s boat, and she was getting married in a few days, and that’s what you do when you are getting married and have access to a large boat and a group of good friends. I’d like to make some kind of metaphor right now about the river being an in-between place, the space between two states—Ohio and Kentucky, single and married—the unstable, contradictory nature of water, can’t walk but can float, but maybe that is more about me than about her.

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Me, on my birthday

Twenty-eight feels like an in-between year. It lacks the gravitas of 25 and 30, both round,significant numbers, but falls directly between them, hangs in their balance. And this year, by virtue of my place in life, feels in-between. I am not settled, we are apart, I am in-between career decisions, I am floating here in the middle, not committed yet to either side. I am being purposefully vague and hoping it is artistic, but I have nothing steady to hold onto right now, no firm ground on which to plant my feet. Beneath me, the riverbed shifts, the currents flow around my calves.

All this, and a sense that I am still young, that I am old enough to know I am young, old enough (if only in this moment) to feel comfortable with the passing of time and what I have not yet accomplished. Old enough to be able to tell myself, stop rushing, Canter. Old enough to know it takes time, which is good, because time is really all we have. First too much, then not enough.

A friend just sent me two Buddhist prayers. 1. Everything is as it should be. 2. Protect me from the obstacles before me. We agreed that it is hard to believe everything is as it should be, particularly given the obstacles.

My prayer for my 29th year: let me be like the river. Let me flow around my obstacles. Let me not rush wildly over rapids and let me not saunter so slowly that my waters grow stagnant. Let me be something in-between. Let me move steadily, at my own river-pace, towards the sea.

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