Eight. Mexico, of all places. Nogales, for the day. My aunt was visiting from Ghana, and the family spent the day south of the border. From the car window, I watched the scenery pass, Sonoran desert, the cool algae-green of Patagonia Lake. Later, cold Coke from a glass bottle, while I happily chattered in Spanish with the lady who was selling a wrought iron lamp to my father.
Sixteen. A group of friends stopped at my house, and demanded that I go with them to Farrell's, where they ordered some ice cream monstrosity for me, complete with candles. Then we drove around, listening to Billy Joel blasting from the car speakers and the desert day cooled into twilight. No one wanted to go home, though it was a school night.
Twenty. My boyfriend was visiting me at college, and took me to Disneyland, my first trip ever. I was probably as wide-eyed as any of the little kids there, and the moment I first rode Pirates of the Caribbean, I think I was breathless. I knew of the ride from an article in an old National Geographic that I read until it fell apart. About nine years later, I would meet one of the ride's lead designers, and never before or since have I fallen over myself in such a frenzy of fangirl gushing. He was an old man then, now long since gone, but still tall and upright. He shook my shoulder and grinned, then gave me a little slap on the back and said, "I'm glad!" and went on his way.
Twenty-three. Pensacola, visiting my brother while he did his flight training. A houseful of Marines and various girlfriends. It was one of those sorts of weekends where you laugh so hard your stomach hurts, and it culminated in a trip to a local bar where my brother bought me an enormous blue drink and I got drunk for the first time ever. I am apparently the world's happiest drunk up until the moment I become the world's sickest drunk and then I am happy again and somewhat less drunk. Since I discovered that drunk and sick invariably go hand in hand for me (I tested the hypothesis all of three times, which was more than enough), my alcohol intake is very limited. And I still am in touch with some of those guys, so I still hear about the moose. And the leprechaun.
Thirty. Northern New Mexico, near the Colorado border, a mountain pass. We were up so high, we were driving through clouds. Suddenly, it began to snow. Snow. On May 22. A most unusual and sparkling gift.
Thirty-four. The Big Island. With an active 3-year-old and an infant who had an ear infection. Believe me, this one was not my idea. And yet, standing in the sulfurous steam of Kilauea at Halema`uma`u crater, I felt power and calm along with the hair-raising sense that I was in the sights of...something.
Forty. "Are you pregnant?" the spouse asked. "What? NO," and my tone indicated that I was not amused. But he laughed and held up concert tickets.
Last year. The what is well documented. The how is another matter. It takes a lot to get me on a plane. I have to really want something to get on a plane. There's a reason for this, but it's less important than the fact that flying is anathema to me. And with this particular trip I looked for wiggle room. I looked for trains. I looked for a Greyhound bus. But I ended up on a plane that I described as a "toilet tissue tube with a fuse." Those four days were the best gift I've ever given myself and I'll probably never find a way to top the experience.
I'm not a patient person. Sister AM said that was my cross to bear in life, and bear it I do. The last months have been excruciating. Possibly necessary, but excruciating.
And now the fun begins.
Go listen to some good music: "Please Just Take These Photos From My Hands" from the album A Hundred Million Suns by Snow Patrol. There is something about this song that speaks volumes to me. I still have the boxes of books. The boxes of photographs. The boxes of journals. I am struck by the idea of the artifacts we leave behind, not just those we carry with us, but those we leave elsewhere. My family frequently speaks of what I leave in my wake, but I've been slow to consider that. It doesn't help that I firmly believe that I only exist in my own mind.