There are 3 phrases that I want to have tattooed on my body or my brain as armor in 2022: Let it go (or “Flow off your back like a duck” as my husband says) is the first one. “Lean into the Suck” or more nicely stated, Embrace Change (already on my calf). And the big one, Take Care of Each Other.
My husband typically spirits me away between Xmas and New Year, for a celebration that is part birthday weekend, and part reward for surviving another Christmas season. Truthfully, December birthdays can suck but I reclaimed mine by picking out fun jaunts every year. But I found it difficult to get motivated for our “Birthday Escape” weekend this year.
A new location for each new year. One year we headed to Asheville for several days of hiking, eating, and craft beer. Another year, I chose historic Ellicott City for the quaint shops and local gastronomy scene. Our last “escape” before COVID shut down the fun was to Nashville to hear John Prine play. This year we decided to reclaim the fun in our lives too and booked a trip to historic Cambridge, Maryland.
WORDS TO LIVE BY
All three of these came in handy when I woke up excited for the beginning of my birthday week. I busied myself preparing for our 2-hour road trip. Checking on our plans, my excitement dampened when I found that our theater plans (Rent!) were canceled because someone in the cast came down with COVID. We are still in the middle of a pandemic and leery of other disappointments possible on my birthday escape, I held my breath.
I checked websites and voicemails for the rest of our road trip to Cambridge, Maryland. As far as I could tell, everything was a go – including the massages I had booked at the Hilton. In celebration of turning 58, I skipped the low-sugar yogurt in favor of leftovers from Monday: tasty dumplings and dipping sauce. I semi-steamed them in the microwave and nibbled with my hubby as we packed and cleaned before our departure. My celebratory breakfast turned out to be a mistake and within 15 minutes I was on the porcelain throne! Three times in all, between walking the dog and a final reassurance that I could endure a car trip without soiling myself. I grabbed a medical-grade ice pack on the way out the door, just in case, my back didn’t recover from whatever sleeping position had seized it up.
At almost 60 years old, I pride myself on staying active. I do yoga 3 times a week and traded soccer cleats for the stationary bike and daily walks with the dog. After months of working with a chiropractor to rid me of the hip (left) and shoulder (right) pain, my back was now on the list of aches too. This is when I applied the second phrase that helps me through life: Embrace the suck. I tapped my tattooed leg to remind me always to expect bumps at regular intervals along this road of life.
LET IT GO
We made good time with minimal traffic and the ice pack was successful. Arriving in Cambridge where lots of cute streets gave me the perfect excuse to walk out aches growing in my back. Remember the admonishment let it go because shit always happens. A delightful walk about town and we decided on day drinking at RAR Brewing. They have a wonderful list of IPAs and a great sour that was thirst-quenching without sucking the moisture out of me. Some mini bar shuffleboard competition, sliding heavy metal discs down the sand-sprinkled board was followed by onion rings and a double burger dipped in the famous RAR sauce. It was a perfect moment, and I wanted to bottle the sauce. It would have been fun to stay but I had already sent an email confirming our massages. We paid the check and headed out to grab my Mini Cooper.
Driving through the commercial area of the town, we passed a local Olive Garden, Dollar store, and strip malls, arriving at the immensity of the Hilton Hotel. Parking was an adventure; the gate entrance was apparently broken and hubby decided to jump the curve into the parking lot. Interesting start. We proceeded to the spa entrance, noting the circular staircase that spiraled elegantly upward. My glasses fogged up behind my mask as we started to climb, and I was out of breath by the time we reached the staircase summit.
EMBRACE CHANGE & TAKE CARE …
Three young women were seated behind a large reception desk with masks on. In the low lighting, they welcomed us and asked what name our reservation was under. Providing mine, I waited expectantly, preparing for an afternoon of rejuvenation. Then it happened, they couldn’t find our reservation! As panic started to rise in my chest, they managed to retrieve the booking … but it was for the next day!
My heart went south, my euphoric mood disappeared, my skin was getting hot and the mask didn’t help. When you turn 58 your hearing starts slipping and asking her to repeat the information wasn’t much fun either. Rather than burst into inexplicable tears, I told her we’d let them know if we couldn’t make it back tomorrow.