All things of wonder can happen on your birthday. You can randomly choose a bug spray off the shelf at the local CVS on your way to the hike and discover once you smell it that it is the same brand of bug spray you borrowed 24 years ago on a beach camping trip that you've been looking for ever since because you loved the memories tied to the smell. I have been sniffing my arm all afternoon and thinking about these huge, empty horseshoe crab shells we found near the campsite.
We spent the morning on the Potomac River. It is my favourite body of water in this world. I know many people cannot imagine being so incredibly attached to a body of water, but when I read Impossible Vacation by Spaulding Gray and he described how his mother went insane after his father scoffed at her attachment to Narragansett Bay and moved her away from the water, I marked the page with a little scrap of paper because that is exactly the same attachment I feel to the Potomac River.
In the same week when I have been panicking over the idea of sending off my son to speech therapy once a week, I found myself wistfully wishing that they were old enough to take white water rafting. I'm not sure what age specialists would recommend taking a child white water rafting, but I'm going to wager a guess that it isn't two-years-old. But as we were standing at the overlook watching this screaming rapid, I told my daughter when she was older, we would ride over the rapids in the Potomac River--albeit further down river in West Virginia where the water is calmer. And then I thought to myself, "will I have the energy and wherewithal to go white water rafting by the time she is ready to go white water rafting?" It's this bizarre race where I am ready now, but she is too little. And when she is ready, there will be this small window before I am too old. It feels like I'm standing at the edge of a game of double dutch, trying to perfectly time the moment I jump between the ropes.
Before we started the hike, we gave the twins the option of using the stroller even though I wasn't certain our stroller would do well on the tow path or walkway to Olmstead Island. Of course they they turned it down. They did fine on the walk out to the island, but asked to be carried on the walk back. I pointed out that they had been given the option to use the stroller. My daughter said simply about her current state of exhaustion and the length of the walk, "but I didn't know." That was enough to get her a free ride back to the car in my arms. Because it's so true. You just don't know. And you can't be blamed when you need to change your mind.
I took over twenty pictures of the two of them walking hand-in-hand. I wish I had a best friend who had been with me since in-utero.