To say that my 25th birthday was magical is a ridiculous understatement.
It lasted for about a week – beginning with two of my wonderful friends getting married, and several of my very best friends flying into town for the occasion.
We drank chilled white wine and danced and I cried sporadically throughout the night – overwhelmed at the miraculous beauty of their marriage.
My favorite moments of the night happened in the middle of the dance floor. It was one of those nights where it feels like only the important things are in focus – all I could see were the faces of my favorite people in a swirl of laughing and hugging and ridiculous dance moves.
I could only see my boyfriend as he took my hand to the tune of Old Crow Medicine Show. We spun and dipped and laughed until we were out of breath and the song had been danced to the absolute fullest.
My best friend Michelle stayed in town for several more days, and we ate fantastic BBQ at a little spot on the side of a country road, took walks, and fell asleep on the couch together as we watched movies and ate pizza. It was pure, best friend perfection.
And then Tuesday rolled around. It was the night before my birthday and Michelle and I had decided to take a walk to watch the sun set over the lake. She led me down a path though and before I knew it, we were arriving at the lower pool in my apartment complex.
We walked down the stone steps and were greeted by 20 of my friends, talking and laughing as they gathered around the most beautiful little tables – covered in colorful pinwheels and bubbles and pink champagne flutes. My boyfriend had put together the most perfect surprise birthday party for me and had thought of everything. Every detail was perfect – I even got a sash and a crown. He grilled perfect summer food for all of my friends as we sat around telling old stories and new ones.
As the sun went down, he built a fire in the pit by the pool. I sat by the warm flames, cozy and happy as every person there, one at a time, told me how much they love me. I thought my heart was going to overflow.
Then we lit sparklers (my favorite) and went down to the dock where he set off legitimate fireworks. As they crackled and popped in the sky above the lake, I thought my heart was going to beat right out of my chest. Everything was perfect.
The next day, the day of my birthday, Michelle and I got pedicures before heading down to Atlanta. We did a few of our favorite Atlanta things – the patio at Tin Lizzy’s and playing in the fountains at Centennial Olympic Park – before dropping her off at the airport.
Carl and I finished up the night over a perfect dinner, on a perfect patio tucked in between the skyscrapers of Downtown Atlanta.
And as my birthday was about to end, I asked him, “What should we do in my 25th year?”
I wanted to come up with a list – a “25 in 25” kind of list that would propel me into things I’ve never done but always wanted to do.
It is very much like me to make lists about the future – my heart pounding with the possibilities.
But then I stopped mid-sentence and changed my mind. That’s the opposite of what I want to do in my 25th year of life.
The last thing I wanted in that moment was to dream about the future – because then I would miss the present, and the present was just so good.
Life is risky and beautiful all in the same breath. I have about as much as I can handle, and I don’t need to push for more.
I want to do the opposite. I want to breathe and enjoy. I want to be fully present for every single moment – letting the weight and beauty of them fill my heart completely, to the very corners.
And so this is my phrase for my 25th year of life:
My best friend Amanda is an incredible artist, and she paints this often. It’s an hour glass with an arrow right in the middle, and a tiny note that says “Be Here,” reminding us to keep our focus out of the past, and out of the future, and right in this moment – right now, today.
So Year 25, that’s my plan.
What words describe your life these days? Are there words that you’d like to choose instead?