It's my birthday and the years keep adding up. I remember the year I turned fifty. The closest of my friends were eager to present me with black balloons and shower me with bits of shiny confetti that said, “Over the Hill.” But I had an answer for them.
“Today is the first day of the second half of my life!”
The second HALF was important to me. For one thing, my grandmother lived to be a hundred and two and I aimed to match her. But more importantly, I had a huge bucket list of things that I wanted to do and I was eager to get started. Fifty was a good place to start. My baby had gone off to college and I’d moved to my new home by the sea in Maine. I had a new and interesting job with a fantastic boss, who is still my friend today, even though I’ve retired now. I look back on that birthday today and it seems like a lot more years than it’s been. But then, I’ve been to a lot more places than even I’d dreamed was possible and done some really neat things.
I took up skydiving, which is probably the most outrageous and exciting thing on my bucket list. What an incredible thing to really fly with the air rushing past, tipping, turning and flipping. Then you pull the ripcord and suddenly the world is silent except for the soft flutter of your parchute. You can see for miles and it’s fantastic. Better than looking out an airplane window, even a small plane with big windows. How I love that canopy ride back to earth. The feeling of freedom is amazing.
I swam with the Whales snorkeled over coral reefs and climbed Mt. Tafahi
Then I joined the Peace Corps. That adventure took me to the other side of the world to a culture and climate very different from anything I’d ever known. I lived with a Tongan family for two years, taught English to beautiful brown-eyed children and made a whole raft of new friends. While I was there, I swam with whales and crawled through lava tubes, climbed an extinct volcano mountain, and bobbed in a warm volcano fed spa of very green water. I dove into Mariner’s Cave and snorkeled over fantastic colored coral reefs, camped on a South Pacific beach and sailed on water so blue it made me catch my breath.
found a new family in Tonga taught ESL and explored a lava tube
When I left Tonga, I traveled home the long way. In New Zealand I hiked over a glacier and into ice caves, rode in a helicopter and took a train ride through the alps. In Syndey Australia, I climbed the bridge, met a wallaby and visited the Opera House. Two of my children traveled to meet me in Thailand and during our week there we had a James Bond experience, running through a busy market from a tuk tuk driver who didn’t want to lose his fare. We fed monkeys and fish, rode elephants and rafts and participated in Song kran, the Thai New Year where NO one stays dry. In Vietnam, I toured the Hanoi Hilton, Khe San, the Mekong River and the tunnels of Chu Chi and got the “Other” side of the story of the American War. But I also took a train ride down the coast from Hanoi to Saigon, stopping in Hue, Hoi An, and Nga Trang, visiting thousands-of-years-old ruins and temples, cruising on the Perfume River, and I swam in the South China Sea where once our soldiers went for R&R. In Saigon, I had lunch at the Rex Hotel before flying on to Singapore. From there, I visited friends in Marseille, France and was treated to a week long jaunt of castles, quaint villages, churches and pubs and the beautiful coast. And then I was home again.
Hiking the glacier, exploring ice caves Syndey, Australia Singapore, Singapore
Hoi An - my favorite Vietnam city Royal Hue South China Sea in Nha Trang
SongKran - no one stays dry Provance, France Provance, France
In the years since then, I’ve acquired ten new grandchildren and moved again, this time to St Augustine, Florida. I’ve become a published author and begun a new career. I’ve spent New Year’s Eve in places like Paris France and Times Square. I’ve dressed as a colonial Spanish lady and worked in a taberna circa 1740. I’ve made dozens of new friends and discovered dozens of new historic sites, but I’m just getting started on that bucket list. So, this year is number sixty-eight, but who’s counting? I’ve still got a lot of places to see yet, new friends I haven’t met and books that still need writing. What's on your BUCKET LIST?