Happy birthday to the girl of my heart
exhale twice as long as the inhale
She never liked New Year’s; she didn’t understand what about the dead of winter signified a new beginning. The days were long and dark and everything was cold - the earth wouldn’t bloom again for another three months.
Instead, she celebrated her beginnings in August, at the beach, after a long hot summer and before the start of school. There was not a particular day for her ritual, it happened in the morning, and the only thing she needed was the sun and her running shoes. She began each year with a three-mile offering. As her breath ran dry, she relished the sweet pain in her legs. At the end, she doubled over and yielded everything. She let the sweat run down and away. Let her arms hang heavy. Let her heart slow.
And then she walked to the beach. As the sand gave way beneath her, she looked to the horizon. The morning sun made her squint. She stripped to her bathing suit and stood, body still heaving. She took a breath and walked to the water’s edge. This was her beginning. First her toes, then her knees. She let the icy water wash over her. When the waves rolled in and out of her bellybutton, she exhaled and dove forward, head first into a wave. She stayed under and felt two more waves roll over her; found the quiet beneath the ocean. When her lungs burned, she kicked to the surface. Emerging, she gulped salty air as the sun washed over her. This was her baptism. She was new again.