20 August 2013

53 Things

It's that time of year again...new beginnings, solemn reflections, and even some resolutions. For over forty years I've lived on the cycle of schools, and it is a hard habit to shake. My mother was a teacher too, you see.

This year I've given a bit of thought about the rich life I've been fortunate to experience, and, for the first time, got that awful pang in my gut at the thought that my daughter may not be so fortunate. It is just an awful feeling, isn't it? I can guide and provide but the choices are ultimately hers to make. I thought about the experiences I want to give her, experiences that will help to shape the woman she will become. 

As we were in the car earlier today, I heard her ask her dear friend in the back seat if she knew what a lesbian is and then proceeded to matter-of-factly inform her nine-year-old friend that a lesbian is a "woman who likes women." They then pondered the word in Italian before moving on to other important things, like the number of hearts of a worm. And while her description could likely be a bit better, I was incredibly proud of her for having this discussion without judgement, without whispering, without giggling, without snickering. It's not a big deal...except that it is a big deal because we work so hard to keep her mind open to everyone and everything; it's part of the experience intended for her. It gives me hope.


I stopped making to-do lists about eight years ago and haven't looked back as it has been liberating beyond belief.  Of course I'm procrastinating and rather than get my stuff together for the morning, for the exciting first day back, I finished this "to reflect" list that has been taunting me from my desktop for a couple of years. It's not profound, just a portrait of "where I am" today, a highlight of experiences that have shaped me, most in the past twelve years but others as far back as college...

  1. Swam in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
  2. Earned an advanced degree
  3. Sat in box seats for a ballet at Teatro San Carlo
  4. Wrote a poem
  5. Attended the Winter Olympics
  6. Tasted aioli in Provence
  7. Swam in the Mediterranean Sea
  8. Volunteered
  9. Crossed the Mississippi River on a ferry
  10. Had beer in a cave in Prague
  11. Went white water rafting on the Chattahoochee
  12. Cried in a concentration camp
  13. Water skied in a muddy river
  14. Instantly understood unconditional love the moment I saw my girl
  15. Visited Old Faithful
  16. Crossed racial boundaries
  17. Rode a gondola in Venice
  18. Chaperoned a high school dance
  19. Watched The Color Purple at The Kennedy Center
  20. Ate raw oysters from the Gulf of Mexico
  21. Coached t-ball
  22. Sang “Do-Re-Mi” in the arbor in Salzburg
  23. Ate French onion soup in Montmartre
  24. Led 9th graders to a love of Shakespeare
  25. Gave birth; held my sister’s hand as she gave birth
  26. Bathed in thermal waters on a volcanic island, Ischia
  27. Taught myself photography
  28. Caught crabs with chicken legs in Grand Isle, Louisiana
  29. Made true friends as an adult
  30. Went to a major league baseball game
  31. Almost flunked out; made the Dean's List
  32. Bought a house in Italy
  33.  Saw the opera Carmen in an ancient Roman amphitheater in Verona
  34. Collected sea glass in Vietri
  35. Perfected salted caramels
  36. Read all of Toni Morrison’s work
  37. Crossed the Brooklyn Bridge on foot
  38. Saw dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean at sunrise
  39. Learned a foreign language (Okay...learn -ing)
  40. Went to overnight summer camp
  41. Sunbathed on a rocky beach in Croatia
  42. Rode a horse through a forest in Arkansas
  43. Started a book club
  44. Hiked to the rim of Mount Vesuvius
  45. Made Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon
  46. Visited Marie Laveau’s grave
  47. Learned to clean fish
  48. Road a horse-drawn carriage in Charleston, a streetcar in New Orleans
  49. Hiked in an Alpine meadow
  50. Ran a summer camp
  51. Spent the night in the Smithsonian
  52. Made nine high school yearbooks, always with amazing young people
  53. Found true love
53 things.
Yet...I know I have miles to go before I sleep.
Buona Notte.
And Happy New Year.


  1. Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. But totally unexpected...

  3. I. love. it. Especially the first part. To me, raising a child who recognizes that love is just love is your biggest accomplishment :), although 25 and 53 are awesome as well. I love the sister part, especially since I don't have one :(

    1. I sure hope so. I feel like we are constantly evaluating our parenting, so hoping to get it right. Poor kid!

  4. Happy New Year! :)
    (PS #51, how?)

    1. Thank you! All one needs for a Smithsonian Sleepover is a credit card ;) Google it.