I have climbed up hills and fallen down mountains, swum in canals and come face-to-face with a water moccasin. I have played on rooftops and in trees. I wrote a book, at age 10, that was never published, and never will be, and won a writing contest and went to summer camp.
I have spent hours watching alligators swim lazily in rivers, and have rescued animals- lots of them. I have rehabilitated owls, hawk, ospreys, and other birds of prey. I brought a rabbit back to life with CPR, and killed a frog just to see how his insides were put together, then spent the rest of my life regretting it.
I have bared my soul, only to be rejected or ridiculed. I have bared my soul and found life-long friends. I have had boyfriends and lost them or left them, always avoiding a commitment. I have fought, loved, hated, felt homicidal and suicidal. I have had meltdowns and periods of life that were wonderful.
I have been chased around a parking lot by a strange man, and down a street by another. I was chased by a man with a hammer once at a traffic light, but I drove off and shot him a bird. I was chased in my car by two men who tried to run me off the road, and I chased a man down the street. I was in a car when drug deals went down, dozens of hands holding baggies waving their wares in the window. I hid my fear.
I have lived poverty and collected food from trash cans- before it was a popular sport. I have lived on food stamps and church charity. I have been without a home of my own and without a job. I turned my back on a man who needed bus fare, and still think about him with regret. I have given food to people who were hungry and rides to folks who had no transportation. I have denied money to beggars, and given money to others. I have volunteered and raised money for organizations and charities. I have offered shelter to friends who needed it.
I dropped out of high school then studied art, science, language, and linguistics, got a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. I learned a second language. I have worked in fast food and in retail, as a maid, a turn-down attendant, a receptionist, a cook, a rose seller, a kennel worker, a bagger, a veterinary assistant, a waitress, a bartender, a researcher, a teacher, a writer, an editor, a translator.
I traveled for hours by small plane, then bus, then boat to get to a remote rain forest in Costa Rica. I soaked in the hot springs fed by the volcano Arenal, and ate dinner while watching the glowing lava stream down its sides. I have been followed by monkeys who tried to pee on me to chase me away. I have seen endangered tree frogs and heard the distant roar of jaguars.
I have traveled to England, France, and Spain. I have traveled all over the US. I moved to Mexico with only 2000 dollars and no income and no friends yet at my destination. I drove for five days with everything I owned in my car to get there, after everyone told me not too- it was too dangerous. I did not encounter any danger, only difficulties in finding lodging that would accept me with my three cats. I struggled to understand and interact in another language. I received kindness from people who could see me searching for the right words to communicate. An indigenous woman gave me a mat to sleep on when she saw I was sleeping on the floor. I visited a shaman who got rid of my nightmares. I drove by a reputed warlock’s home every day. I made good friends who helped me become a better person. I learned it was ok to depend on others and be a part of the human race. Then I forgot that later when I returned to the States. I learned that life was not black and white. Mexico showed me the shades of grey.
I got typhoid and dysentery, then I got accustomed to life in a foreign country. I lived near a volcano and was showered on by eruptions. I exercised on a pyramid that was topped with a church. I walked to and from my school and work three miles a day. I bought fresh flowers from the market to brighten my bare apartment. I bought wooden crates to use as kitchen cabinets. I viewed the mummies in Guanajuato and smelled their earthy, papery skin. I saw the elaborate alters for el Dia de los Muertos. I have gone to Mardi Gras in Mazatlan and seen the parades for the Guelaguetza in Oaxaca. I lived in a cartel town with a population of 700,000 where there were 144 murders in one month. I was in a restaurant during a hold up, with four men waving automatic weapons and screaming for money. I fled the country I had grown to love.
I survived cancer. That’s still fresh.
Sometimes I think about how I could have done things differently, how that might have changed my life. But then I realize that these experiences, good, bad, or indifferent, are the network of my being. They interact with my psyche and form inextricable bonds, making me who I am. They fuel my thoughts and my actions and affect my relationships with others. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anyone elses’. During down times, when I think I have done nothing with my life, and I wonder what the point is, I look at my list. I think also about the things I have not written down, for whatever reason, and I remember that I have done everything I have ever wanted to do until now.
How many people can say that?
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