Sunday, my 30th birthday.
A lovely breakfast made specially for me by the love of my life, someone whose existence had been a mystery to me only a year before, but whose presence now fills each waking second and nighttime dream.
We drive through the windy, shaded, and sometimes pit-holed roads of suburban Virginia to discover yet another church together, and add yet another patron saint to those who look after us.
The bright, spring day, one of the first of the year when we dare to roll down the windows of the new car, takes us across the Potomac, into the District. Then I kiss him goodbye.
And walk into the hotel to work the first day of my company’s annual conference.
The week that follows is strange – storms of activity punctuated by lightning rods of intense stress and the thunder of demanding voices, interspersed with the interminable boredom of the hotel lobby, myself anchored in place by a laptop and binder and gifts for the foreign delegation that they keep leaving behind.
So it is only natural that I decide my actual birthday will take place the following weekend. This time, pleasant beginnings – a Friday night dinner surrounded by friends in a Brazilian restaurant followed by salsa-dancing at the Cuban place next door – led to a weekend of what my 30-year old soul craved.
Peace, quiet, adventure, and love.
And we found it all less than 2 hours’ drive from DC, down those winding rural roads, past Virginian wineries, to Harpers Ferry, that iconic town where three states and two rivers meet.
A tiny town of less than 300 inhabitants, its size multiplies on weekends with tourists eager to learn about the history of John Brown’s Armory raid, to sit in Jefferson’s contemplative spot (or another)
to swat off insistent gnats when walking past historic sunlit ruins
to savor some truly historic candy
to hike the Appalachian trail
and enjoy nature, looking up
looking across the river
Or looking down at a cellphone screen.
Cute little restaurants, a handful of B&Bs, two or three ice cream shops, and you’ve come to the end of Harpers Ferry. Walk across the railroad bridge and hike to the top of the neighboring hill to a great resting point and scenic photo spot. And then leisurely walk back, along the river, your pace slowing as does the insistence of the gnats, your mind and heart no longer buzzing, but at peace and happy to enter this new decade.