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Monday, October 1, 2012

The Midnight Walk of My 31st Year

I just recently turned thirty one.  It doesn't really seem like a huge deal to most, but to me, it was THE biggest deal.  I was depressed.  It felt like instead of leaping over the fence of thirty into a whole new age of confidence, I fell straight on my face. In the mud.  The night of my birthday, I didn't feel like doing a thing. I just stayed up all night, and thought about what direction my life was taking. The Chunk suggested we take a walk. It was 2 in the morning, and the chuds were at Chuck's parents' house for the night, so why not?  Maybe that would clear my head.
So we went. I slipped on my warm hooded sweatshirt, and headed out into the cool, damp night. It was dark. We live on the end of a dead end street, and beyond us are woods. We have one street light over the dead end sign, and under that light, the leaves were gently waving in the wind. The quiet of the neighborhood was thick. I swear you could almost touch the silence. The dew on the grass was cold and wet, and I wondered if wearing flip flops was such a good idea. It was a clear night, and if you looked up in the sky, the stars were twinkling in a way that it looked as though someone had tossed a handful of glitter into the air. I swear, the longer I looked, the more stars appeared. Different colors; I could see purples, blues and pinks sparkling through the leavs of the trees in our backyard. I sat in the grass next to our large pine tree, and inhaled deeply. I could smell the wet dirt, and dug my fingers into it. The cool feeling of the earth in the palm of my hand reminded me of planting my petunias this past spring, and of the purple petunia that Chloe was so proud to give to me on Mother's Day.
Walking around the block, the streetlights turned the grass and trees into an almost fluorescent green; the dew made it even brighter! The street was so dark gray and dismal in comparison, that it almost reminded me of a fairy tale. It was so surreal. I couldn't believe my eyes. This is where we live? Our neighborhood looks like THIS? I had never appreciated where I lived as much as I did that night. We walked back to the house, following the spotlights of the streetlights, and I could feel every rock and pebble sharply stabbing my feet under those flimsy flip flop sandles. For once, I didn't care. It felt good. It reminded me that even at thirty one, I was alive, feeling, and free. We came back to the house, and I stayed in the yard for a while longer. I didn't WANT to go back into the house. I wasn't ready to go back into a stuffy home. I wanted to stay outside, where the air was clean and fresh, damp and pure. I couldn't stand the thought of going back into the house; I associated it with the feeling of being trapped back in my real life once again. I was ready to spend the whole night outside, maybe even longer, lying in the cool grass, with my wet cold toes in the dirt. I knew the night was going to end eventually, and I would have to pick up my kids, and go back to being a mom, wife and adult. At that moment, though, I was a kid again. I didn't feel so bummed anymore. I felt like I could have done anything at that moment, sitting in the corner of my yard, staring at that dead end sign, at those leaves waving in the street light, and staring into the dark of the deep woods beyond. I could have stayed there forever.
It's not every night a person decides to walk outside and spend time with the bugs at 2 in the morning. I'm usually in bed by ten. The way I felt that night was something I hadn't felt in years. Not since I was younger, before I had kids, and responsibilities. I'll never look at my yard the same way again, and maybe next time, when the kids spend the nights at their grandparents' house, I won't look at it as an opportunity to get to bed early, to watch grown up tv, and get housework done. I'll look at it as a chance to take one more late night walk through those gray pebbled streets; to walk barefoot through the green dewy grass. Taking the time to smell the pine of the tree in our front yard and to listen to the sounds of silence. Feeling free, once again.

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