The morning of my thirtieth birthday. I wake up in a three-person tent situated on a lush campsite at Mora in Forks, Washington. I unzip the first layer of vinyl carefully  and then the next and creep out, closing both behind me. Moisture hangs in the air, as to be expected being moments of the sea. I smile broadly. I love my birthday.

I set up the camp stove as had become routine over the past two weeks and make the coffee and then my oatmeal. I perch myself on the edge of the picnic table and wait for my love to wake. Meanwhile, I breathe deep, trying to absorb the shades of green around me–the ferns and the moss and trees dripping with life– and the scent of the sea.

We spend the day seaside admiring seastacks but mostly just gazing out at the sea. There is such a sense of freedom when one faces the sea. I hunt for tidepools and spot my first sea anemone. We attempt a hike only accessible in low tide, but we are too late. The water was coming in. Unfortunate, but not as unfortunate as the braver-than-us couple who end up drenched, pouring water out of their shoes as they walked back. In true camp life form we eat ham sandwiches and potato chips on a picnic table near the parking area whilst keeping our eyes on the crows around us that are readying themselves for any opportunity to score before continuing on. We hike a trail through thick coastal forest, and I’m drawn farther and farther in until at last we reach the sea. The beach feels like a secret even if others soon follow.

The sun warms and tires us and we return back to camp. A bottle of red wine is opened and I sip a glass and begin to write.

Today I turn thirty. Do I feel older? Wiser? My life is nothing I thought it would be, yet it is so much richer that I could have imagined.

I love the person I’m becoming as I’m becoming her. [I’m] aware it takes time. I am proud of me, of us. Moving west has not been easy…but we are pressing on, stronger for it.

My twenty-year-old self would have called me a hippie lacking ambition. She was plugged into a very different path. But I have so much love for that young woman trying to quell her rebellious side in favor of the practical one. If only she knew what the years would bring. But that would mean skipping the process. My twenties were tumultuous, but I wouldn’t trade them–who would I be without these struggles?  

For supper I create a camp feast for the ages: local ribeye steaks with a pat of salted butter and parsley on each, pan fried potatoes, and vegetables. More wine. The feast is overly indulgent as every good birthday meal should be and is followed by a apple crumble of sorts using apples we foraged on Lopez Island.

The day is equal parts simple and outrageously beautiful. And I am very happy.

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