There I was, on the Ponte Pietra in Verona, at midnight under a blood-red lunar eclipse the last Friday night of July. A group of inebriated Veronese men were baying song lyrics in Italian over open bottles of wine. I grasped the thick concrete wall of the bridge, my heels slipping in the cracks between the cobblestones.
As I looked up at that beautiful, burgundy moon, the tears came suddenly. I couldn’t stop smiling. There was only one person who would appreciate these emotions in this moment. I scrolled to my sister’s name and texted her four simple words I hadn’t written in a long time: “I am so happy.”
Here I was, a 35-year-old wife and mother, on a weekend getaway alone to Italy for a childhood friend’s wedding. This was my longest time away on my own since giving birth 20 months ago. I have so many reasons to be happy, to be grateful, to feel blessed. Yet as I wandered that midnight bridge, I felt more free, more alive, and more young than I had in years.
Flashbacks came of backpacking trips during college, of wandering other similar European streets and landmarks, the thrill that came with not knowing where the night would lead; a long-ago, forgotten feeling.
Now my days are nothing if not predictable: childrearing, housekeeping, working, repeat.
Even the date nights with my husband follow the same predictable pattern. It was no wonder that I became overwhelmed with emotion on that bridge, gazing up at a rare lunar eclipse along with dozens of drunken tourists, singing and shouting and licking gelato in the humid summer air. It was the sound of excitement, of youth, of adventure; a sense I hadn’t felt in a very long time.
For what am I to do? Throw my responsibilities to the wind and take off at a moment’s notice? We women in our 30s have jobs, husbands, homes, children – not to mention, we are exhausted. You need energy to go on an adventure.
And frankly, I’m too tired. Just the thought of it makes me want to curl up in bed.
But maybe that’s been my mistake – choosing the easy way too many times. Opting for pajamas when I should say yes to that invitation to go out. Like my friend in college used to say, “I can sleep when I’m dead.”
So what if I have to get up at the crack of dawn? Maybe I should, once in a while, if it means living a little bit more the night before.
When I returned from Verona, the first person I called was our babysitter. I arranged for her to come that Thursday night. Then I called our friends who don’t have kids (because let’s face it, while I may be in a super-motivated mode right now, not all my mom friends are feeling it with me).
I dug through an old bag at the back of my closet and retrieved a short dress I hadn’t worn in years. The length is questionable now that my hips and bum have broadened, but you know what? I feel young and sexy in this dress.
And off to town we went. Yes, hanging out at a bar – even a really cool one – is no adventure compared to solo gallivanting across Europe. And yes, I was yawning before midnight, and checking the time on my phone.
But in between those yawns, we were laughing, drinking, clapping and dancing, and I did feel young and I did feel fun. I felt a whiff of that lovely scent from that magical night bridge in Verona; the scent of being alive.
By: Libbie Snyder
Originally from Boston, Libbie Snyder resides in Tel Aviv with her husband, daughter and two cats. She is the owner of Snyder Communications, a content writing company that provides copywriting and editing services to high tech companies across Israel. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, running, reading novels, writing poetry, checking out new restaurants—and when the opportunity allows, travel abroad.