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Now is the time

I just celebrated my 42nd birthday. As a child, my mom always made a big deal of birthdays, even though culturally birthdays aren’t really celebrated in Vietnam. We didn’t have much money, but there was always cake, presents and festivities. A few years ago I was flipping through old photos and noticed she recycled the party hats for many years, but I still felt like a princess every single year.

As an adult, I’ve spent my birthdays surrounded by friends, family and partners. White river rafting, kayaking, dinner parties and BBQs. This year, I decided to spend my birthday by myself in the woods. My days and nights are booked solid and a quiet retreat for some Annie-time seemed like a perfect way to celebrate my big day. My car turned off the highway and the Buena Vista Social Club was blaring on my Ipod. My body visibly sighed as I zoomed by rivers, trees, farmhouses and cows, feeling a bit overwhelmed by the beauty of the Northwest.

I stayed in my family’s cabin in Cle Elum, Washington – a huge house that includes 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 lofts and a hot tub. Every morning, I’d wake up, brew some coffee and walk out to the river watching the swallows darting in the water and trees. My fatal flaw was reading a scary novel that made me a bit jumpy. Lots of noises in the woods and houses creak. I love being alone, but instead found myself feeling lonely. Lately, I’ve been getting nostalgic for Seattle, preparing myself for the big move to Southeast Asia this fall. I watch 4th of July fireworks and in between the ooh’s and aah’s realize it will be many years before I’m back for this holiday.

In a few months, I’ll leave Seattle again and will have plenty of solo-time in Vietnam. As I turn 42 in the woods alone, I realize now is the time for friends and family.

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