I knew something was wrong from the moment my bare feet touched the ground this morning.

I climbed out of bed with a slight groan here, a subtle pop there. A shifting of something inside my spine that probably shouldn’t be shifting. I looked around waiting for my brain to slowly finish its reboot for another day and then realized…

I’m one year older!

So I just turned 25 today…plus or minus 8 years…and would like to say that I don’t feel any different.

Sitting here now, my back is reminding me of the nasty fall I had climbing a few years ago, and even my hernia that I received exactly three years ago today (courtesy of my first skydive) is tingling. For some reason, when I am sleeping on the ground, or trekking up some unnamed hill, all of these ailments disappear…my conclusion is that staying indoors makes you old.

Birthdays have always been special to me. Anyone that can survive another year on this insane planet deserves to get a cake and eat it too. I thank God for letting me see 33 of them; I’ve been given enough second chances to upset the whole system.

Lyndsey made a big deal out of my birthday by inviting loads of friends, both old and new, over for a surprise cookout. It was fantastic, and despite it being a work/school night, we partied like it was the last birthday for any of us. Ever.

To make things even more interesting, a box of unlucky crabs was shipped in from Maryland and presented at my feet. I think I heard someone say “Give them to Greg….he eats weird sh*t”. True enough….but vagabonding does have its limitations. 🙂

Like all men, I like to fantasize about being a Bear Grylls type survivor that would be just as happy going out in the back yard and biting the head off of a baby bird or squeezing the moisture out of some elephant poo, rather than popping a TV dinner into the microwave. But, to tell you the truth, I didn’t know what the hell to do with these things! They were whole snow crabs, covered with barnacles, and some still clasped seaweed in their claws as they desperately fought for the last few minutes of their lives.

This wasn’t exactly Joe’s Crab Shack, there was good (and expensive) meat buried inside the orange buggers and I was determined to find it. The damn things came with no instructions, and were only accompanied by a small wooden mallet which we affectionately nicknamed “The crab-o-mizer”.

I selected a large, and slightly pissed off looking decapod and placed it on the counter in front of me. I wielded my wooden mallet like an Orc hefting his battle axe and dropped it down with a shell-popping “crack!”. After digging through guts, green stuff, and other assorted unmentionables that one finds lying in secret beneath a crab shell, I emerged with tidbits of the sweetest and most wonderful crab meat I have ever had. Visions of surviving on a deserted island raced through my head, and when I ate the last scrap of meat that I could find, I had to fight the urge to rip off my clothes and do naked pushups Bear Grylls style.

I’m not sure why, but unlike the last few birthdays, people came out of the woodwork for this one. Loads of my long missing travels friends called, sent emails, etc…making it very special. Maybe they know that things have been a little rough here for the year, or maybe it was just chance, but it was enough to snap me out of the zone that I was slipping into. It also serves to remind me of the real reason that myself and most people travel…it’s not about pictures of yourself cliffdiving, or eating dog meat so you can brag about it later, its about the people that you meet along the way. Every person that we encounter leaves a little ding in us with their hammer, like a soulforge, until eventually we are shaped and pounded into the people that we are.

Thanks everyone, for all the years already — and here’s to 33 more years together.