As most of you know, my birthday is kind of a big deal to me. I think everyone should get at least one day a year for things to be all about them. I celebrate me on my birthday, not my age. On that one day a year, I put myself first.
This past year, Max and I had to negotiate this issue. We were considering going to Las Vegas to see Rod Stewart for our autumn vacation. I told you a little bit about that adventure in last week’s blog. What I did not say was that, to maximize this trip, we would have to spend my birthday in airports flying home from Las Vegas. This certainly did not sound like an enticing way to spend my very own annual special celebration day. On the other hand, I did want to see Rod Stewart and the logistics were much simpler if we spent September 30th traveling home.
We decided to pretend we were in some alternative universe where my birthday was actually September 29th. I like to think I have improved with age (despite the protests of my body suggesting otherwise.) Maybe I have become so adaptable and so efficient, I have developed the ability to twist time. At any rate, I took the position that, for 2022, my birthday was September 29th.
It was a fun-packed day, but things really took off, so to speak, when my friend Kathy and I went ziplining. Yes, ziplining.
I have done ziplining twice before this trip. My experiences were a mixed bag.
Once, I was in a leadership readiness program in Colorado. As part of the class, we spent a day at a ropes course. We each had to do three of a number of activities that involved heights, ropes, balance, and physical endurance. I guess the idea was to help us overcome fears and realize how powerful we could be. All around me, people seemed to be getting the message… or, at least, some version of the message. I heard one woman scream, as she jumped from a telephone pole, “If I can do this, I can do anything. Watch out, I can fire your ass!” I wasn’t really afraid. Heights have never particularly bothered me. Ziplining always looked like fun when I watched The Amazing Race on television. Any concerns I had were related not to heights, but to my physical ability to do certain things. Climbing a telephone pole, maneuvering myself into a standing position on the summit, and balancing on the top of the pole seemed improbable for someone who trips over lint.
I was not afraid, but I should have been. I was the class injury. After successfully completing two other ropes activities with little trepidation, it was my turn to zipline. The instructor fastened me into a harness, and I climbed up the ladder to a platform. I do not remember any warnings. I do remember thinking that the people on The Amazing Race sort of sat in their harnesses. At this ropes course, the rider stood and held a bar above her head. On the way down, I screamed. The people below thought I was scared. I was not scared. I was actually in excruciating pain. I am not sure what I did wrong, but I almost dislocated my shoulder. I spent the next several weeks consuming Aleve and admiring the rainbow bruise that extended from my left breast over my shoulder down my back to my waist. Luckily, there was a hospital across the street from the ropes course.
The next ziplining opportunity was at the San Diego Safari Park. I am not sure why I thought ziplining was a great idea after my first experience, but I did. We had a practice run on a short course, which was fine except for an extremely abrupt end to the ride. When I hit the brake position, the momentum threw my heels over my head. I had second thoughts, but decided “in for a penny, in for a pound.” I got in the truck and rode three miles up into the hills. I soared over the African veldt in Escondido, viewing antelope, zebra, and elephants from my seat in the sky. Because it was a longer route, the stop was more gradual, and my feet did not go flinging all akimbo. The whole experience was fantastic.
I decided I’d like to try ziplining over the Las Vegas Strip. Kathy enthusiastically embraced the idea at first but became a little anxious as the time for our ride grew closer. I say, “became a little anxious.” She says, “almost had a panic attack.” It did not stop her, however. Even though she kept asking everybody she saw about what the ride entailed, she did not turn back. When it was over, she thought it was one of her favorite things about the whole Las Vegas trip. I thought it was amazing. It was such a celebratory, powerful thing to do on my birthday (yes, yes, I know it wasn’t really “on my birthday” but please humor me.)
After our ride, we had my birthday dinner at In and Out Burger. This may sound a little anti-climatic, but I LOVE In and Out Burger. It is a deep source of disappointment for me that Florida does not have any In and Out Burgers. Whenever I am in California or Nevada, I gorge myself like I am storing up hamburgers and French fries for winter hibernation. I took a bite of my double meat plain hamburger, and I was in Hamburger Heaven.
I had more than enough to eat for dinner, but we had to have dessert… ‘cuz it was my birthday. My answer to “cake and ice cream” was sharing a brownie sundae with Max at Ghiradelli. All of this wonderfulness of a day while Hurricane Ian was raging his way around town at home.
Sometimes unbirthdays are the best birthdays of all!
How do you like to spend your birthday? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.