Hey that’s me! I’m 5-0! I turned a half-century old (young?) on June 17. My husband and I celebrated by heading to the gorgeous North Carolina mountains. As much as I love to hike and as many times as I’ve been to the mountains, I had never taken the time to visit the waterfalls that grace my state’s landscape. But this time, we did it. Go and do the things you want to do… NOW, a voice keeps telling me. And so I’m trying.
I had intended to write more about changes in the year leading up to my 50th birthday, or that’s what I said in my birthday post from last year; you can read that here. However, nothing really felt different the previous year. I pretty much felt like the same person, perhaps more tired at times. I had a few more gray hairs than at 48, or 49, which I wholeheartedly hoped would turn into a shimmering silver mane as it grew out. It didn’t. As my hairdresser said, “Cheryl, you have only about enough grey strands to make your hair look a little dull. Ish.” Then she added, “Bless your heart,” because she knew how badly I wanted the silver look.
I had went from being a blonde my entire life (towheaded as a child, hair so fine and fair, that it appeared to be not there until I was about three. Lucky me.) to being dullish brown in my late forties. I recently caved and got a few caramel highlights put back in and oddly enough, I began to feel more like me and less tired. I wonder if this is some form of vanity that I didn’t know I had. Maybe that’s a story for another time.
It’s ironic that my last post also had a waterfall. I didn’t plan it that way. I wrote about having self-compassion in my pursuit of growing and stretching myself to keep writing and following my dreams.
But water does seem to be a theme for me these days. It brings me peace.
As I stood in the refreshing, but chilly, North Carolina mountain waters, it was a coming-home. Maybe a baptism even, or at least as Merriam Webster defines Baptism: an act, experience, or ordeal by which one is purified, sanctified, initiated, or named. I needed to be initiated into, or claimed by, the mountains of North Carolina. As someone who has always struggled to fit in (everywhere), I finally feel at home here in North Carolina, especially when I’m in the mountains. I can’t straddle two worlds anymore.
This is where I am rooted. This is where I am grounded. This is where I belong.
And although I am still fascinated by (and will write about) the entanglements of landscape, history, trauma, loss, geography, longing, wounds, exile, and survival; I also know the past is a place of reference, not a place of residence. I’m beginning to belong right where I am.
All thanks to that gritty hard-won wisdom of aging. Damn 50, I am liking you a lot!
Lower Catawba Falls, Old Fort North Carolina.
Upper Catawba Falls
We hiked (crawled, clawed a bit :))to the top. Here we are.
The “trail” on up…
Overlook (carefully, now…)
Ruins on the way.