A few weeks ago, Jeremiah and I road tripped out to Wilmington, N.C. to celebrate my 24th birthday! While he had described Wilmington to me in detail — the cute downtown area, Cape Fear river, its stunning beaches (supposedly the setting of many Nicholas Sparks movies) — I wasn't prepared for just how much I'd love it. It was truly the sweetest place to begin a new year and I couldn't have asked for a more warm, love-filled day. (We also stayed in the most incredible Airbnb, which only added to the experience — the king sized bed, waterfall shower, giant bedroom windows, and well-curated antique pieces really had me swooning.)
We arrived in the late afternoon the day before my birthday, and after setting our bags down and settling in, we decided to visit Wrightsville Beach before our dinner reservations. We were both hungry, so we ordered corn dogs as a late lunch, and then brought all of our food to the beach. (Side note: somehow sitting in the sand, eating a corn dog, and holding hands with the person I love, felt super romantic. I made a short video of the moment + when I watch it now, I think - "There's nothing romantic about this - we're eating corn dogs!" and yet I still get butterflies.) We dipped our feet in the (freezing cold) water and I quickly decided that our initial plan to bring in my birthday by skinny dipping at midnight wasn't going to fly.
After the beach (neither of us had our bathing suits, so it didn't last long), we headed downtown to sit along the Cape Fear river. By the time of our reservations, the sun was setting, and everything was illuminated in the most beautiful, warm orange light. Jeremiah had reserved us a balcony table at River Boat Landing, and so we continued to watch the sun set as we dined.
We were both exhausted, and so we headed back to our Airbnb pretty early. Somehow we managed to stay up until midnight so that we could bring in 24 together, but quickly after, we both fell into a deep sleep. Around 2 AM, I woke up — there was a thunderstorm in the middle of the night, and feeling the roll of the thunder while watching the lighting flash through our bedrooms giant windows felt like the most magical experience. I felt so connected to nature in that moment and the storm felt like a sign that my 24th year will be powerful.
Surprisingly, on my actual birthday, I didn't take too many photos. We woke up early + had breakfast, spent most of the day at the beach, attempted to canoe at Greenfield Lake (the boat house was closed, but we did spot a baby alligator, which was cool!), and then shopped around downtown until dinner. After dinner (I had shrimp and grits — heavenly), we went to a secluded speakeasy — The Blind Elephant — for drinks, live music, and a competitive game of darts. Afterward, we picked up some wine, headed back to our Airbnb, and spent the rest of the evening wine drunk in love.
Before I left NYC, my best friend, Bella, asked me, "What have you done in the past year that you are proud of, and what do you hope to accomplish in the next year?" In the moment, I wasn't sure, and I'm pretty sure I took a raincheck on answering. But after a bit of reflection, I've realized this:
In my 23rd year I was daring. I took risks. I trusted God. I quit a job that made me miserable with no backup plan; I hustled and landed on my feet. I traveled — I went to San Francisco, and then Portugal, and then Cuba. I didn't give up on love; I didn't give up on building new friendships — I remained open. I gave out positive energy and received it in return. I became more and more of myself.
And honestly, for my 24th year, I hope to continue on the same trajectory. I want to meet new people here in Atlanta. I want to continue to travel anywhere and everywhere. I want to find ways to advocate for others — whether that's volunteering or helping my friends get closer to their own goals. Logistically, I want to focus on my finances + paying off my student loans. And all around, I want to keep focusing on the light. I feel so immensely happy right now and I want to keep this feeling. So 24, I'm more than ready for you. I can't wait to see what the new year brings. x