Birthday Weekend Away. In Short. Gratitude.

Going out of town solo for my birthday weekend has become kind of an accidental tradition. I've gone away on my birthday each year since 2013, either venturing inland to Los Angeles or trading the shores of Malibu for those of Newport Beach, always seeking sanctuary from the challenges of my hectic, kid-centric life for a day, or two... or three.
A few months after starting this blog in the Spring of 2014, I wrote about that year's memorable trip in my two posts Saturday Night Live(s) and Beautiful Mommy. It was a transformative time for me, as I began to reclaim my identity outside marriage and motherhood; and my inspiration for writing not only helped me find my voice again, but guided my heart to where it now lives.
This past weekend, I made a similar birthday trip to the same place, visiting with some of the same people. This place holds great meaning for me, having both lived there in the past and visited many times thereafter. My two days there were jam-packed with activity, and proved to be too short to fit in all I wanted to do, see, be, and feel.
Yet, however fleeting, I found it to be an exercise in being present, being grateful, and being aware that life's journey is a gift, an opportunity, a lesson, a continuous story... constantly unfolding, teaching us what we still need to learn, showing us how we can live better, leading us to ourselves, and to our own authentic truths.

Birthday Weekend Away. Time to pack. Escape. Plans. Can't wait. Overpacked. Oh well. Typical. No worries. How I roll. Kiddos. Goodbye kisses. Hugs. Will miss you. On my way. Down coast. Overcast. Holiday crowds. Already here. Beach. Traffic. Turn inland. Drive freeway. More traffic. Music. Always music. Forever music. Freeway clear. Sailing along. Almost there. Finally. Exit toll road. Before tolls begin. Familiar road. College days. Recent days. Along the coast again. Different coast. OC style. Different vibe. Memories percolating. Slowly. Miss. Sigh. Love and light. Be here now. Gratitude.

Arrive. Say hello. Hugs. Kisses. Smiles. Unpack bags. Chat. Refreshment. Discuss. Dress up. Head out. Dinner. Nice booth. Comfy pillows. Appetizers. Martini. Champagne. Wine. Toast. Entree. Make a wish. Blow out candles. Savor the sweetness. Thank you. Drive back. Night. Kick off shoes. Call kids. Miss you. Love you. Say goodnight. Get in PJs. Brush teeth. Wash face. Climb in bed. Clean sheets. Soft. Buttery. Hotel-like. Pampering. Eye mask. Rest. Dream. So dreamy. Gratitude.

Wake up. Relish silence. Linger under covers. Need to get up. Got to. Breakfast plans. Get dressed. Take off. Up Coast Highway. Down memory lane. Again. Every mile. Memories flood. Turn onto peninsula. Old stomping grounds. Pass old house. More memories. Park. Knock. Dear friend. Hug. Kiss. Chat. Catch up. House tour. Birthday card. Gift. Rip open. New book. Love. Writers. Kindred spirits. New book smell. Ahh. Nirvana. Thank you. Gratitude.

Leave house. Hat on. Walk boardwalk. Different beach. Same holiday crowds. Unfazed. Engrossing conversation. Restaurant. Long line. Put name in. Wait. More conversation. Engaging. Enjoying. Wait more. Chat more. Finally seated. Order fast. Sweet and savory. Split plates. Bloody Mary. OMG. Amazing Bloody Mary. Share stories. Struggles. Anecdotes. Life lessons. Food arrives. French Toast. Eggs Benedict. Potatoes. Ketchup. Eat. Talk. Yum. Full tummies. Take plates away. Please. Save us. Pay bill. Thank you. B-day treat. Gratitude.

Roll out. Stuffed. Potty break. Mom speak. Old habits. Hard to break. Walk to pier. Bustling. Chai lattes. Warm and sweet. Tasty. Confide. Connect. Counsel. Sip. Walk. Holiday weekend. Buzz. Energy. Farmers Market. Browse. Impulse buy. Necklace. Birds=Kids. Love. Fun. Laughter. Gratitude.

Getting late. Where did the time go? Boardwalk. Power walking. Past bikinis. Rollerbladers. Bicycles. People on patios. House parties. Memories flood. Again. College. Flashback. Parties. So many parties. Ragers. Keggers. Drinking. Frat guys. Water polo boys. Crushes. Remember feeling pretty. Some of the time. And feeling insecure. Most other times. Flirting. Kissing. Good times. Gratitude.

Present. Back to house. Say goodbye. Boo. Friendship. Soul sister. Wish we lived closer. Promise to do again. Hug. Leave. Coasting the coast. Familiar places. Passing so many. Memories. Damn memories. Reflect. Accept. Sun breaks through. Open sunroof. Shine. Music. Life's soundtrack. Uplift. Inspire. Gratitude.

Homestead. Return. Change. Swimsuit. Cover up. Greet guests. Pour a glass. Chaise lounge. Beach towel. Sunhat. Sunglasses. Glamorous. My attempt. Not really. Just be. Lie back. Deep breath. Warm sun. Cold drink. Read book. Heaven. Gratitude.

Sister arrives. Hug. Kiss. Flowers. Glad she's here. Appetizers. Conversation. Reminiscing. Beach songs. Loud music. 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. Laughter. Fun. BBQ. Sea Bass. Kabobs. Artichoke jalapeรฑo dip. Ridiculous. Addictive. Good wine. Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio. Yum. Satisfied. Evening. Sunset. Peaceful. Lovely. Birthday cake. Candles. Singing. Make another wish. So many wishes. Blow. Gratitude.

Late night. Fire pit. Warm blanket. Talk. Politics. Yikes. New perspectives. Open minds. Challenging ideologies. Good company. Fading fast. Long day. Fun. Sun. No run. Heated spa. Too tired to soak. Need that bed. Buttery sheets. Sleep. Dream. Wake. Bathroom break. Back to dream. Slept late. Don't often do. Must be that bed. Those sheets. And no kids around. Gratitude.

Wake. Breakfast. Eggs. Farm fresh. Toast. Sourdough. Butter. Chai tea. Chat. Laugh. Wish I could stay longer. Pack up. Swim? No time. Load car. Say goodbyes. Kisses. Hugs. Parting gifts. Spoiled with love. Generous hosts. Gratitude.

On road again. Appointment. Spa. Birthday treat. Body scrub. Massage. Deep tissue. Two hours. Best masseuse ever. Good friend. Relaxed. Lubricated. Elated. Hungry. Get Lunch. Usual place closed. Holiday. Bummer. Mexican instead. Happy hour. Margarita. Rocks. Salt rim. Guacamole. Conversation. Life. Realities. Journey. Truth. Gratitude.

Goodbye. Kiss. Hug. Vacation ending. Drive home. Freeway. One more stop. Alma Mater. Reflect. Better not. Enough memories stirred for one trip. Need to get home. Miss kids. Bedtime approaching. Long journey. Music. Always good music. Alone with thoughts. Me. Myself. I. Good company. Gratitude.

Home. Greeting. My girl. Big girl. Excited. Missed me. Tight hug. Sweet kiss. Sweet soul. Old soul. Proud. Other kid. Toddler. Pouty. No welcome home. Missed me too. I can tell. Just won't admit it. I hug. Hold. Kiss. Resistance melts. Cuddle. Hands entwined. Happy to see. Both Mom and son. My guy. My little. Beautiful Boy. Beautiful Mommy. Still. Always. Gratitude.

Life. Back to it. As per usual. Remember. Connect. Disconnect. Miss. Wish. Accept. Refreshed. A bit. Melancholy. Another bit. Feel it. Acknowledge it. Shake it off. Move on. Just Keep Livin'. McConaughey. Ha. Alright. Alright. Alright. Reflect. Write. Photos. Proof read. Done. Post. Share. You're here. That's it.

Gratitude.