1. Reading Pride & Prejudice for the first time.
2. Visiting London. On my own. (A special thanks goes to the guy in the middle eastern restaurant near the British Museum for his kindness)
3. Meeting the ex-POW on the train in Europe. He was showing his wife the camp he was held in during WW2. He’d been telling her for years that it was, and I’m quoting from memory here, “The most beautiful place he’d ever seen. It was like heaven.” People, he was a FUCKING POW! I was blown away that someone could take what was, most likely, the worst experience ever, and find the one small thing that made it bearable.
4. Meeting the ex-POW on the train in Europe, part 2. He saw me sitting there, feeling vastly inferior to my little sister who was prettier, more popular and even smarter than I was (or am). He leaned forward and told me, “It’s ok, one day someone will appreciate all that you are. Just wait.” He was right. If I could have invited him to my wedding to meet husband J, I would have.
5. Visiting New Orleans on my own. It was pre-Katrina. I’d never been anywhere like that before. No it wasn’t at Mardi Gras. No I wasn’t hanging out in bars on Bourbon Street. I stayed at the Cornstalk Hotel in the French Quarter, and in the evening I would sit out on the balcony and I could hear the music from Preservation Hall down the street. It’s everything you think it will be, and everything you don’t. The food, the people, the music, and dear God the humidity (for a West-coaster, oh my). I cried when I left. I think it changed who I am, and I would not be the person I am today, good or bad, if it weren’t for New Orleans.
6. My mom & dad. I talk about my dad all the time, like he was still alive. He is to me. My mom I mostly kvetch about, but never mention how she raised two girls on her own, and did a damn fine job. Yeah, I’m sure she wishes her oldest hadn’t spent four years of under-grad and five years of grad-school to work in a grocery store. But she knows I’m happy. (Oh, and I’m smarter than all of her friends’ kids, and isn’t that what really matters. ;-))
7. C. C. M. R. Oooohhh.. I used your double secret confirmation name…I’m in trouble now aren’t I? I’m the only one, outside of his mother, and possibly Jen (aka Jennie!) who gets to use it. But it pisses him off. He was my best friend in college and beyond, and my best man at my wedding. He offered me that chance to run when I got married, told me I didn’t actually have to go through with it if I wasn’t 100% sure. I was. And then he stood up there with me, holding my little red purse. (God I wish I had a picture of that). Who has a guy for a best friend? Um, yeah, I do. I always know that if I need anything I can call, and he’ll be there.
8. N. The workplace that I don’t name. You know who you are. I love my co-workers, and occasionally I hate you and want to punch you in the face. But dear God the friends I made when I first moved here, and still have. (Hmmm…I guess that’s what makes you family) I was so welcomed and so made to feel at home and so damn supported. When I was filling out the final application I hesitated, thinking, “Just leave, tell them you make a mistake and leave.” That is, of course, what sealed it for me. Anytime I’m terrified, I have to go through with something. The best things always happen that way.
9. Son J. I’ve never been the maternal type. (Ok, as I write that I realize that I do, and always have, treated either employees under me, hello Escential, or those around me, hello N, like my kids, but not in a bad way, more in “I will kill anyone who hurts you” way). My life is better, end of sentence.
10. Husband J. Meeting you was the best thing that ever happened to me. “For where thou art there is the world itself”