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BIRTHDAY  IN  TAOS

Taos, New Mexico

Friday, November 19, 2004

Birthdays, we all have them. And if you're lucky, eat well, exercise, and avoid bad habits, you'll continue to experience many, many more. In the distant past, when I was just a little kid, they were a really, really big deal. The presents, the cake, the parties, the na´ve feelings of immortality. Sadly, as I've grown older with each passing year, birthdays have become more of a reminder that time is slowly tick-tocking towards the birthday that I'll be unable to attend. Why? Because I'll be dead, of course.

Wow! I'm feeling a bit morbid at the moment. I must have rolled out of the wrong side of bed this morning. Hmmmm, let's see. Today is November 19th. Oh, right! Today is my 40th birthday. Technically, I've just crested the hill of life and am slowly sliding down the other side.

Fortunately, as luck would have it, I can't think of a better place to experience my milestone birthday than on the road. Traveling tends to take one's mind off of life's impending inevitabilities. It's all about the here and now when you're far, far away from home. And when you live in the here and now you live forever, right? At this moment I'm not only buying that mindset, my white knuckles are also holding onto it for dear life!

Wow, I'm 40 today. Looking up I notice the temperature inside the van is a chilly 51 degrees. Brrrrrr, it's probably 10 degrees cooler outside. Geeze, now that I'm officially old and on the fast-track to Incontinenceville, I guess I'll need to bundle up today because I could catch my death from pneumonia. Also, with this chill I'm noticing a bit of stiffness in my limbs. Perhaps early onset of arthritis?

I think it's time to go outside and stretch this creaky, aging body of mine. Before I go I say a quick prayer to my little palm crucifix, asking to be spared a broken hip as I take that big step from van to parking lot. By the way, my Mom made the crucifix. Every year she makes them, for me and my two older sisters, from the palms she receives on Palm Sunday mass from the church she belongs to. I have a whole drawer full of them, I don't have the heart to toss any of them out. I brought this one on the trip, the best of the bunch, for luck, perhaps more. My religious beliefs, well, that's another conversation for another day.

Yup, still slumming in a Wal-Mart parking lot. By the way, if you don't already know, 40th birthdays are serious business. You're not allowed to smile, I've been told.

Looks like it won't be raining on my birthday. That's good news because I have a full day of touring ahead of me. My loose plan is to check out the city of Taos, New Mexico, then trek to nearby Taos Pueblo, a 1000 year old Indian settlement.


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