We leave for our second week at the beach in a few hours. It’s a beautiful day here, and I hope it’s as beautiful at the beach. It feels decadent to be able to spend a second week at the beach; some years we didn’t go at all. As with our first trip, our plans are minimal: relax, play, enjoy.

My 36th birthday is tomorrow. Last year, I felt like my 35th caught me in a bit of an existential crisis: who am I? What do I want to be?  What do I want to do? This year, I feel rather nonchalant about adding another year to my tally.  Maybe it’s because there is an evenness to 36 that feels more stable than the angular, pointed 35. Maybe it’s that 36 is firmly on the other side of the symbolic 35. Or maybe, it’s because we are so busy that I barely have time to think about personal existential crises. Parenting a 4-year-old and working will do that.

I’m not saying I’m at peace with the pesky gray that is consistently infiltrating my hair or the under-eye bags that grow more prominent (especially the one under the left eye. Nothing like uneven under-eye bags) or what I optimistically call crinkles at the edges of my eyes that are more accurately called wrinkles.  I wage war with creams that I suspect delude me into a false sense of well being. I’m just not ready to do anything more permanent about these mile-markers of my time here. I hope to one day be as sanguine and appreciative as Arch Mama is about hers.

35 was a year of up and downs, highs and lows, but couldn’t that be said of any year? A few months ago, I worried that perhaps I had peaked. Maybe I reached the zenith of my achievements a few  years ago, and that thought depressed me. I don’t feel that way now. I’m hopeful that Marty and I will produce a second year of Listen to Your Mother.  My 4-year-old, my chance at immortality, delights and infuriates daily. Jimmy and I have found time for wonderful late-night (if 9 PM is late!) conversations on the back porch. And Fall is coming.

So, 36, I welcome you. Or at least, I don’t fight you or deny you. Tomorrow I will spend the day on the beach, reveling in the salty air and the gritty feel of the sand. Making sand castles. Finding star fish. Maybe being squirted by a water gun. Eating great food. And not being at work!

As I slowly feel the rejuvenation the ocean brings me, I’ll think about how something so old can still be so beautiful and powerful.


  1. A happy birthday to you (for tomorrow)! I am glad you are at peace and welcoming this new year of 36… and I hope it proves to be one heck of a great year. What better way to kick it off than a visit to the beach!? Have a wonderful time!! 🙂

  2. Happy birthday, KeAnne! A beach birthday sounds wonderful! Hope your trip is restful and rejuvenating! I always preferred off season beach trips…less crowded, less warm, less pricey, but still so pretty this time of year.

    I, honest to goodness, forgot how old I was this year. I had to pause and do the math. Perhaps it was the muddled workings of a sleep deprived brain, or perhaps I just stopped marking the tally because, you know, why? For a solid moment, though, I had no clue how old I was. 32? 35? (34.)

  3. Happy birthday!
    I found things got easier after 36 for me, and at least I am closer to sleep better at night today than I was yesterday. 🙂 White hairs, older skin, creaky joints, they come with tolerance (in the true sense, not the fake, patronising tolerance of youth), ability to relax , since I know now that I actually do not know everything (what a burden that was!), and the pure, adult enjoyment of a good, really good glass of wine (because for years I could not understand why wine was so popular, funny, eh, since I knew everything, but at the time the irony was lost on me. As many other things I will not bore you with.)
    Hope you have a great day!

  4. Happy Birthday! A beach birthday sounds absolutely divine! We never made it this summer, and I kind of regret it, but there’s next year. I, too, prefer the even numbers. I feel unsettled at 37, it seems a strange, sharp, rough number–and I can hardly remember how old I am, to be honest (I have to remember that hubby is turning 40 next year, and I’m 2 years younger…complicated). I hope the three of you have a magical, memorable week!

  5. Happy birthday a little late! I love this post, and I’m glad you’re feeling good about your age and things to come.

  6. Happy birthday. I completely understand and relate to the ambivalence of birthday-in-your-30s. I think we all feel that existential crisis now and then. Maybe when we turn 40 it will be different? One can hope, crinkly brow and all.

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