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My mother taught me that in order to be truly grateful, one should be reflective of their life. It helps to create appreciation where you currently stand, no matter what the ground’s consistancy seems to be at the time. She gives a pretty damn good speech about the topic actually, and as a kid I would roll my eyes when I knew the speech was coming, but it appears that ever since I stopped hearing them in person, I now give my own. New Year’s Eve, her birthday, and the 4th of July were her favorite speech starters. New beginnings, acceptance of another notch of wisdom, and the opportunities provided by freedom.

Now I sit here, pondering my birthday. I turned 31 today. My mind is filled with the things I’ve done and the things I still long for. There are many things I thought I would have achieved already at this point in my life, but yet there are also so many achievements I have that I never even considered in my youth.

I’ve tied a Christmas tree to the top of a two door car and then realized the only way in was through the window NASCAR style. Watched the sunrise from the white sands of the Gulf of Mexico. Wrecked a car putting my two best friends in the hospital. Read, “Where the Red Fern Grows,” so many times I can recite it. Caught Missouri snow flakes on my tongue. Put my toes in the cold waters of Lake Tahoe. Swam beside a sea turtle in Hanauma Bay, Hawaii. Driven across the Golden Gate Bridge with my little brother hanging out the window while our native Blue Angels flew between the bridges towers. Pledged my life to the United States of America. Conquered Basic Training. Hung my feet out the window on a summer day while you drove. Felt the first contraction of my daughters voyage into the world. Heard her tiny voice cry out as she debuted. I’ve sunk my toes deep into sand. Burned my tongue on hot chocolate. I miss my family. Walked the streets of London. Touched the Atlantic Ocean. Learned to play Roulette in a casino in the heart of Puerto Rico. Stood up out of your sunroof staring at the stars, Gulf of Mexico crashing on my right and the Black Crowes flowing in the breeze. I feel most understood in a room with my sister and brother. Fell crazy in love one Cinco de Mayo in old Juarez Mexico.

Fallen in love. Fallen out of love. Had my heart destroyed. I’ve destroyed others. Made friends and lost many. I’ve riden 4 wheelers in the rain, middle of nowhere Lousiana, with a country boy, his smile, and white t-shirt. I dream in color. I’ve heard the Blues of Memphis. Stood in a hanger with two massive C-130 Gunship builds going on around me and all I saw was you. Tasted pizza over in Rome. Had a Hurricane down in New Orleans and a beneigt in the morning. Stood in front of Stonehenge, wondering. I’ve married once for safety. I’ve married once for love. I’ve learned marriage is tricky business and no one knows for sure. I’ve prayed for answers and I’ve prayed for change. I’ve prayed for understanding and I’ve prayed to go away. I’ve listend to  my granfather’s stories. I’d love to hear them all again. I’ve heard bad music on the radio. I’ve heard good music no other ears will hear. I’ve driven a NASCAR around the track at Talladegga, beating all the boys. Jumped out of Pushed out of an airplane over North Shore with a parachute strapped to my back. Crawled into bed beside you and known security in its finest form. Road a horse through the jungles of Cozumel. Sat in an uncomfortable chair for several hours to prevent waking my second newborn daughter, Lord knows she never slept. I’ve been hit by a man who claimed he loved me. Scared of the dark. Alone in a foreign country. Stood on the bow of a water taxi in Venice. Driven the roads of Italy. I have tattooes to remind me. I have scars that haunt me. I left Florida with a map as a teenager, on my way to California. Coached soccer for my daughter. Played softball with my best friends. Snorkeled with hundreds of fish, terrified, nearly drowning Russell. Walked the strip in Vegas. Held a baby in my arms. New life, and old life, and all the in betweens. Worked on airplanes, and helicopters and dreamed the flyers dreams.  

Yet there is a whole world left I want to know. I am so grateful to have seen the wonders I have seen, but all that taste of adventure leaves me always dreaming with travelers wings.

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