Well, or I had a send-off party, which I guess is "technically" more accurate. But it felt like a wedding and a birthday and a retirement and a send-off all rolled into one.
My friend, Eshe's twin six year-old boys kept asking when I was going to open my presents, and I had to explain to them, yet again, that this wasn't my birthday party. But there was food and people and music and decorations, so what's not birthday party about that in a six year-old head? I get it.
And then my friend, Jacob, said to me when he was leaving, "I feel like I should say 'Happy Birthday' to you or something."
And all day, as I watched some of the people I love the most in this life come, eat, laugh, tube down the river, shower me with affirmations and love, leave, and then be replaced with another round of people I love the most in this life, I was struck with a realization. I thought, I can only remember being surrounded by so many people from so many different aspects of my life celebrating me at one other time - my wedding.
Here are some shots from the day:
|My parents, Bob and Susan Duggan (the founder of Tai Sophia and his wife who is |
my acupuncturist), some classmates from Tai Sophia, and some friends from work, all
enjoying the beautiful bridge where we lounged for much of the day.
|My gurrrl, Katie - thanks for co-throwing this amazing party!|
|Dela enjoying watermelon|
|My dad and Rick grilling up some tasty chicken |
(notice the expansive beauty behind them)
|Mama preparing the veggies for the grill|
|Soooo happy to see Anne all the way from South Carolina!|
|The generous, talented, inspirational host of the party and owner of the |
magical farm - Anne Baker.
|The most popular activity of the day - tubing down the creek.|
|My other gurrrrl, Eshe. Thank you also for co-throwing|
this amazing party, cleaning out the barn, and sending out the
invitations! You deserve this moment of sun-basking.
|Our crazy huge bonfire|
|James, an awesome co-worker and friend, with his son,|
Jackson, an awesome student of mine, enjoying the fire's warmth.
|Olu and I snuggling by the fire.|
After the party was over, around midnight, I sat on a log with a warm beer in my hand next to two of my good friends, Anne and Katie, the only people left. We stared at the smoldering embers from a gigantic bonfire that was around 10 feet in diameter, passing the warm beer, tiredly reminiscing about the day's events. We sat in silent marvel at the juxtaposition of the twinkling fireflies in the trees that blended seamlessly into the twinkling stars in the sky above them. And it felt like I could have been wearing a wedding dress, and they bridesmaid dresses, and we could have been sitting around in our bare feet after the wedding, laughing and telling tales.
The next morning, Anne, Katie, and I awoke at the farm house where we ended up sleeping. Over a breakfast of fresh eggs from the hen house, I mentioned this observation to them. I said, "I kind of feel like this was my wedding, but to myself."
Katie said, "It was your wedding to wildness."
Bam. That's it.
I am committing to live a life of wildness. I have pledged a vow to walk hand in hand with adventure, through sickness and in health, through better or worse. I will still value jobs and relationships, but wildness is my priority. It is wildness to which I have pledged my enduring love.
And then, to top off the analogy, Anne snuck out to my car in the morning when she left a couple of hours before me, and tied ribbons to my mirror.
She wrote with black sharpie on two of them. They say:
"As always, so below as within, so be it without. We call to the different directions - north, south, east, and west - deliver and protect Melanie."
"All blessings of soul and body and spirit. May the wind carry you on your travels. We love you!"
She might as well have also written JUST MARRIED on my back windshield.
So it is with great pleasure and gratitude that I introduce to you, for the very first time, Mrs. Wildness!