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Monday, October 7, 2013

The Year of Big Life Events, a summary, including THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE, and some other stuff

I should call it The Year, in caps, the one that began and ended in a tutu, the one that was so full of Big Life Events that writing seemed awfully trivial in its face. 

I should do that. 

But instead I will just own up to having been distracted, and lazy, and stuck. I will apologize and move on, and forgive myself, because this life stuff is still happening, so much of it, and I don't want to miss one little bit by fretting over my lazy distracted self. 

So here it is, The Year of Big Life Events, encapsulated in one post, one that seems necessary in order for me to move on to writing ALL the other things I want to write!  Bear with me, if you don't want to read about my year just skip this one-- this one is for me.  So I'll have it here, always.

The first time I wore the tutu was for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer which I did in NYC last October. I walked 26 miles and raised more than $2,000. Two things I'll always remember: walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (I just knew I was going to love that), and the unexpected, profound loneliness at the end, when I reached tent city and I knew no one in that enormous crowd. 


The second time I wore the tutu was for the Color Run, which I did in Philadelphia last July.  This run is billed as "the happiest 5k on the planet" and it isn't hyperbole.  I have never had a happier run, and though I did it alone I didn't feel lonely-- I was enveloped in a happy crowd, running, dancing, laughing and getting more colorful by the minute. If there is a color run near you I highly recommend it. It is not a timed run-- so it is an excellent "starter race"-- wonderful for beginning runners and families. Music, popsicles, frisbees and dancing afterward make it a party. 

And between these two bucket list events were a few other bucket list events, and some Big Life Events, and also THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE, which was when David and Alia got married.

Here we are, just after the wedding. They were married in January, in New Orleans, on a streetcar. There were altogether about 20 people. Us, Alia's parents, and some of their friends. Perfect.


I had my husband and my kids together in my favorite city and one of them was marrying the love of his life and it just does not get any better than that. 


So now I have a collection of 5 BEST DAYS and this is the only one that did not involve hospitals, or seating chart stress.  


We spent a few extra days and made more wonderful memories of NOLA; here we are exploring the French Quarter neighborhood where our firstborn lived for a year when his company was doing restoration work after Katrina.

We toured the cemeteries, ate lots of seafood, and one early morning I went for a run along the Missippi. So much fog you could just make out what was directly in front of you. I could hear music playing, a couple of instruments, some singing. As I came closer the musicians smiled and waved.  On my way back I became part of their song-- "Can we get a 'Hey'", they said. So I said "Hey". They said it again. I answered again, and the song followed me as I ran.

On the last day, after the kids had left for the 3 different states they called home, Jim and I went to the Audubon Aquarium . There is an exhibit called Parakeet Pointe, an enclosed area containing hundreds of the colorful birds.  Attracted to my shiny gold wristlet, a blue bird climbed all the way into the bag and pulled out a $10.00 bill. Then she handed it off to a green/yellow bird while she climbed out. You can't tell by this photo, but there was a crowd around me. Everyone had moved to the front of me to watch the birds attempt to steal my money. When the blue one tried to fly away with it, the bill fell and we got it back.  After that I zipped up the bag. Now we understood why the signs said to check your bags and backpacks before leaving the exhibit!

That was January. In May we traveled again, not so far this time, just to a dorm room in Georgetown University, Washington DC.  I'd never had the chance to live in a dorm before, but now for two nights Georgetown allowed Jim and I to stay in one, living the dream. I  liked having him for a room-mate.  We watched t.v. on our laptop, ate take-out, and flashed our (temporary) ID's to the desk guy whenever we came in. I went for a run along the Potomac, too.  But we were there to witness our wonderful daughter-in-law receive her Law degree.  She'd worked so hard, and got married in the middle of it. Did I mention her fb status during the wedding? "brb, getting married". I LOVE this girl! So, congratulations, Alia! (also yay! I have a lawyer!)  Pictured here with Alia is her lovely mom, Julie, and the flowers her parents brought for her.  So thoughtful-- I never think of those details!  But this is one of my favorite photos- it was a lucky shot for me!

Just a few weeks later Jim and I were traveling again-- Do you remember I said this was The Year, in caps, because of how full it was of Big Life Events? I wasn't kidding.  This time we were headed to Los Angeles. Well, Pasadena, really, to witness yet another graduation.  But first we were going to...San Francisco. 

Why San Francisco? Because, one, it's where Monk lived. Two, it's where the best movie documentary I've ever seen was filmed, three, City Lights Bookstore lives there, and four, it's home to the crooked street!

We walked up Telegraph hill. I saw one of the wild parakeets, the subject of the documentary mentioned above. We went to Alcatraz and Fisherman's Wharf and Chinatown and to where the sea lions are.  We rode the streetcars- so much fun hanging on when they're full- flying downhill with traffic whipping past you and you just keep your grip on the pole while gravity tries to pull you out. Wheeee!

But I think Alcatraz was Jim's favorite thing, and I admit I found it way more fun and interesting then I'd expected. 
I think we'd agree, though, that our best day was when we rented bicycles and took a ride across the Golden Gate and into Sausalito.  The view from the bridge was beautiful, although the bridge itself wasn't as wide or pretty as I thought it would be, after seeing the Brooklyn Bridge. It wasn't half as crowded either, so that was a plus. 
But then coming off the bridge we entered a long winding downhill path, where every turn offered another breathtaking view of the San Francisco Bay. The sun and the sailboats-- it's so gorgeous- like a story- I was stunned. Never expected that. Another place I long to see again.  

Then on to Pasadena, for the last of The Year's Big Life Events, the Caltech graduation of our daughter Addison.  We spent a couple of days exploring Pasadena. We tried going up into the San Gabriel Mountains, but it's all scrub instead of trees and I'm a backseat coward on a bare, mountainous road.  Halfway up my anxiety got the best of me (omg STOP! We're going to FALL OFF!), and I asked Jim to please pull over. I got out of the car, picked up a rock, and got back in. We decided to go see the rose-bowl instead.  But I had my rock from the San Gabriel Mountains.

We also went to the Norton Simon Museum, which houses a terrific art collection plus sculptures by Rodin and others, worth a visit.  And with Addie's help we were able to eat abundantly and cheaply--the opposite of San Francisco-- because college students always know the best places. One that I remember is Zankou Chicken , which we had on the eve of my birthday. I liked it enough to buy their tee-shirt.  

The graduation was lovely, with typically perfect June weather for the outdoor ceremony, and we were so happy and I thought I was ready, and then. 
There she was-- all grown up.

My girl, the graduate, the one with the crazy long degree, something about Science and Engineering and Geology.  The one who went 3,000 miles away to college, who lived for two months on her own in Switzerland, who traveled by herself around India, who spent a summer living in Manhattan, working at Columbia. That girl. The fearless one. My daughter, the geologist. My hero.  All. Grown. Up.

And so we're at more or less the end of The Year of Big Life Events.  I'd stop here, but since I summed up a little about my girl I think I'll add just a little bit for my boys, too.

My firstborn is one of my best friends, a supportive cheerleader, someone I can ask opinions of and get good advice from. He's a computer guy and an amazing musician, a writer and a reader.  He's playful and funny, he's just a good guy, and I'm so proud of him and so lucky to have him as a son and a friend in my life.  

My middle guy is wicked smart, a software engineer, who is also playful and funny, he's sweet and sentimental and stubborn and opinionated and always, always interesting. He never hesitates to be helpful and he is always helpful.  He makes me happy every single time I talk to him. He is fiercely loyal and he treasures his family. We've grown to be friends too, and I am so very proud of him and so very grateful to have him.

I am like the lottery winner of best sons.  And daughters. And daughters-in-law.

And now maybe I can get back to writing about things other than my family.

Like the Zombie walk, post to follow...

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