Well, it finally happened. It was the day so many people have been telling me to dread, and it finally happened. I turned 30. Given the obsession with youth and, let's be honest, immaturity, in our culture, many had suggested that it would be a difficult transition.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Real or imagined, there is a particular freedom that comes with the chiming in of one's thirties. There is a sense that, finally, the world will start to see one's efforts in a serious light, that one's hopes and dreams are now firmly grounded in what is possible (quite a lot, it turns out) rather than what is fanciful, that the sense of self that has been slowly evolving and taking shape over the last 29 years is visible and strong, but still malleable and open to further growth. Granted, this is an idea that has been coming on quite strongly for me in the whole of the last year, as I have undertaken to change the circumstances of my life quite dramatically: new job, new house, new trajectory, etc, etc. It is these deliberate changes that have made this realization possible. It is much more liberating to actively choose one's path than to be blown about by situation and circumstance, which is where I spent the vast majority of my 20's. To firmly plant two feet on the ground and step in a direction of my own volition is a heady experience, indeed. To have a plan that extends beyond the 2 or 3 year immediate future is stabilizing and affirming. To do it alongside an equally grounded and ambitious partner is even more enlightening. For that, I could not be more grateful.
|Samosas at Copper|
|Dinner at Copper with man friend|
UNTIL we arrived home from our dinner to find an apartment full of glorious people who had schemed and planned and sometimes driven hours to surprise me and celebrate with me! There had been a hand off of keys to my lovely friend ALE the previous evening, when she and her hubs accompanied us to see the Amy Schumer comedy show (the first celebratory event). Those keys were then passed off to the lovely LW and her son, who were entrusted with getting everyone in the apartment and keeping the dogs from going bonkers. Complete with loads of wine and a specially made gluten free cake, the entire event was magic in the making! I was so shocked (and I really never snapped out of it) that pictures didn't even cross my mind, but I will not soon forget the beautiful sight of the people most dear to me all congregated in the same place, sharing so much joy!
|Off we go to.....???|
While we were both moving a little slowly the next morning, man friend got me up and at 'em bright and early for our adventure to ______________. I had no idea where we were going. I packed for all manner of weather and activities. I had an entire suitcase FULL of clothes and shoes for a single overnight stay somewhere!! We dropped the dogs at my parents and off we went! It only became clear what was happening when I had to become the official navigator and the GPS gave away our destination as Asheville, NC! Just in time for peak leafer weekend and the beauty of Biltmore Estate! I was downright giddy! Two hours and change later, we came up on the estate grounds. Autumn in the
|On the terrace at Biltmore|
We spent a lovely couple of hours meandering through the house (no pictures allowed), oohing and ahhing at the beautiful tapestries, woodwork and marble carvings. We mused that our entire apartment would fit, with room to spare, in George Vanderbilt's bedroom...only to find that we were correct in this regard! Man friend was particularly
enamored with the spiral staircase that had no visible means of support, a true stroke of genius in the architect and engineer responsible for the design. Once we'd had our fill of the indoor luxury, we headed outside to the gardens....the massive, expansive, unbelievably
well kept gardens. I have, in all my travels, never seen gardens so well cared for and geographically appropriate. They were dazzling. I could have wandered for hours, but alas, man friend was hungry (point one) and had one last surprise in store. Not only did I get to spend the weekend in a Pemberly-esque daydream, I got to explore the deer park of said daydream on horseback! Yep, I haven't been on a horse in years and miss it ever so much, so man friend decided 30 was as good a time as any to remedy the situation! He arranged for a two hour private adventure through the estate grounds, allowing us access to beautiful aspects of the 8,000+ acres that would never be accessible any other way. There are simply no words. Sore bum and tired legs after two hours, but I wouldn't have traded it for anything. It. Was. Perfect. Our last stop was the Biltmore winery, where we opted for the free tasting, given we were far too tired to consume much alcohol and still make it to the hotel! We meandered through the winery and the small shopping village attached, getting a lovely glimpse of the Biltmore Inn at sunset. Once we decided that we were saturated with perfection, we headed off toward downtown Asheville, where the A-loft hotel was waiting, with the promise of dinner and a warm, comfy bed!
|Lobster fish tacos!|
|Yes, t'was as tasty as it looks!|
The next morning brought a lazy check-out and a delicious southern-infused breakfast before heading home to return to reality and collect our mutts. Oddly enough, waiting at home was one last, not-so-small, surprise in the form of an Italian wool pea coat with beautiful brass buttons. I know one stylin' lady who will stay warm this winter!!
The weekend was a haze of one glorious surprise after another, full of fun, laughter and, more than anything, gratitude for amazing friends, this beautiful life and the amazing man with whom I share it.