“Happy Birthday, self,” I thought as I watched beautiful tropical fish swarm the top of the turquoise blue water, feasting on my vomit.
Let me back up.
Since I am now filled with 30 years of wisdom, I told Chad what I wanted for my birthday, rather than making his poor soul guess. I informed him that I wanted a surprise trip.
“Is it really a surprise if you know it’s coming?” he asked, his blue eyes sparkling as if he thought I hadn’t already considered this conundrum. Men. I told him as long as I didn’t know location, it would be a good enough surprise.
In the days leading up to the trip, I couldn’t contain my excitement or my nosiness. Thus, I insisted that we add a new rule- Chad would provide one clue per day on where we would be going.
And so, Chad, the most patient person I know, continued to play the game by my rules, doling out a clue per day.
But if you know me, you know that I am extremely geographically challenged AND impatient. Rules were quickly amended so that Chad could provide multiple clues per day.
2 days before the trip, rules were overthrown and I demanded that he tell me where we were going.
Chad had planned a trip to Marathon, FL, which is one of the islands on the chain of islands leading up to Key West.
We dropped the kids off with my (amazing) in-laws and road tripped of to our final destination, which was about 4 hours away, taking us through Miami (yes, on Superbowl weekend), through a chunk of the Everglades, and finally, across multiple islands linked together by bridges.
Marathon, FL won me over with it’s southern architecture, rocky beaches, and lighthouses. There was an uncharacteristic to Florida chill in the air that reminded me of Duluth.
Despite the fact that Chad isn’t a huge fan of ocean swimming, he put on his “husband of the year” swim trunks and ventured out snorkeling with me.
That is exactly how I found myself jumping into the choppy waters of the Atlantic ocean. If I had to rank nature experiences I’ve had in my life, this was by far, one of the coolest.
The turquoise waters are beautiful on surface level, but a whole new world opened up the moment we jumped into the water.
We were surrounded by schools of brightly colored fish, underwater mountains of coral, and forests of purple sea fans dancing in the surge of waves. We watched in silent terror and glee as a massive green eel stuck his creepy head out of a crevice below.
Being submerged in this underwater world was fascinating. And yet, despite the magic of the moment, after an hour of being pushed and pulled by the crashing waves, my stomach was not impressed. The salt water tasted too salty, and my stomach alerted me that it was time to puke.
I crawled out water and hoisted myself back up onto the boat. The captain took one look at me and said, “Why don’t you go talk to the dolphins?” while pointing his thumb toward the back of the boat.
And that is precisely how I found myself hurling into the beautiful waters, only to realize that the tropical fish loved my regurgitated sub sandwich. (TMI? Sorry.) The islander sitting next to me flashed a toothless smile as he watched the fish feast on my puke and sighed, “Nothing goes to waste here, does it?”
While the snorkeling trip involved bodily fluid, it was a weird but fitting way to mark the start of my 30’s.
Life, I’ve learned, rarely has 100% perfect moments. And if I wait only for those, I wouldn’t have much to celebrate. But A LOT of life has not quite perfect moments that are full of mistakes or bodily fluids or tough spots.
I’ve realized that embracing the not quite so perfect moments makes life became a hell of a lot more enjoyable.
So here’s to embracing the imperfect moments our lives are weaved together by. Here’s to talking to dolphins, feeding the fish, and finding joy in the experience.
Wishing you all the best,
PS- For all who are wondering, Avery’s surgery went very smoothly. Thank you for the thoughts and prayers!