During my collegiate days, I was in school full time, working full time as an editor of the newspaper, and volunteering about 10 hours a week with the campus Women’s Center. I seldom slept and ate most of my breakfasts on the bus and my dinners (if I had time) with ink-stained fingers. I was also extremely happy being this busy, and it’s when my love of list-making began. There were lists and post-its for everything plastered all over my apartment, my desk at the paper, my school books. When I got particularly stressed out, I’d make to-don’t lists as permission to relax and a nice reminder there were so many things I didn’t have to do. My favorite “to don’t” is still “ever wear MC Hammer pants.”
In the last week or so, I’ve started actively examining my life list and setting goals for myself. There are things I want to do, and I won’t let them just be items on a list that don’t get accomplished. But it’s also overwhelming. There’s a reason it is a life list, and not a “get it done in the next week” list. I’ve decided to apply the same philosophy and look at all the cool things I have gotten to do. This is my to-done list.
- Caved in the cenote cave system in Mexico,
- Climbed to the top of mayan ruins in Belize
- played with monkeys on the bay islands of Honduras
- stood under the redwoods in California
- posed with the Greta Garbo’s star on Hollywood Blvd
- driven across the Golden Gate Bridge
- flew an airplane
- hunted ghosts
- driven a bulldozer
- played with baby tigers
- drank champagne on top of the Eiffel Tower
- participated in flashmobs dressed as santa and a zombie
- welcomed the first sunrise of the year on the beach
- ate a waffle, fries, and chocolate in Belgium
- stood in awe in front of Guernica and Las Meninas in Madrid
- rafted class V rapids on the oldest river in the US
- read a book on the steps of the New York Public Library
- stood under the lights of Fremont Street in Vegas
- partied on Bourbon Street on St. Patrick’s Day
- hiked a mountain by myself to see windmills in La Mancha.
When I look at how amazing my life has been, I cannot complain about the things I haven’t gotten to do yet. They’ll come in time.
In the past few years, my dad has been on a genealogy kick. He’s spent hours and hours at the archives digging through files and birth certificates and has managed to trace my mom’s family all the way back to the Revolutionary War.
We also discovered I’m related to Walter Wellman, an explorer and journalist who attempted to reach the North Pole via airship. It’s cool anyway, but it’s even cooler that he had that amazing mustache to go along with him.
The most exciting discovery of all, though, was yet to come. My dad found out a few days ago I’m actually related to Jack London through my mom’s side. Suddenly, it’s like my whole life makes sense. Why else would a 9 year old girl so dearly love London’s work and someday aspire to race in the Iditarod?
What do you think? Can you see the resemblance? It turns out the Call of the Wild is just in my DNA.
“Look, your worship,” said Sancho; “what we see there are not giants but windmills, and what seem to be their arms are the sails that turned by the wind make the millstone go.”
“It is easy to see,” replied Don Quixote, “that thou art not used to this business of adventures; those are giants; and if thou art afraid, away with thee out of this and betake thyself to prayer while I engage them in fierce and unequal combat.”
My third day in Spain I took on the windmills. Though I saw them not as giants or enemies, the journey to get there and the hike to see them was as fierce a battle as any. I woke up early that morning and navigated the metro to the bus station on the other side of the city. in my bad Spanish, I bought a bus ticket to Consuegra that didn’t have any information on it. I didn’t know where the bus picked me up or dropped me off, and I only knew what time it left, not what time it returned. Down at the bus slips, I showed each bus driver my ticket and said “Es correcto?” until I found the right bus. And then I sat on the bus nervously for two hours hoping it was indeed correcto, and that I’d get off in the right place. Fortunately, I did. I arrived in the town so early there was nothing going on, no one awake, nothing open. Again, I was totally alone. This time in a small Spanish town in La Mancha, surrounded by buildings a thousand years old, and mountains millions of years older.
I started meandering through the town in an attempt to find a route to the windmills and I eventually came across a seemingly endless flight of stairs to the first two windmills. Though there was another two mile hike to the main set of windmills and the castle, I stopped and caught my breath and enjoyed the incredible view of La Mancha.
And then further up the road, just beyond the ruins, stood los gigantes. Don Quixote’s windmills in all their glory. The wind was so intense I often had to sit down on the ground or brace myself against the windmills to avoid being toppled right over.
On the way back down, I stopped in to this strange, old Spanish church at the start of the stairs. I put a 20 cents in a little automated box to light a battery operated candle. I sat in the church a moment and kept waiting for an old Spanish woman in a black veil to appear crying. The town was empty. With the exception of a French school group in the castle, I saw almost no one. Traveling alone was my windmill, and I’d fought an strange and intense battle against it.
In the afternoon, I headed back to the bus stop and waited for an hour or so before catching the two hour bus back to Madrid. It rained the entire time and I napped one of the best naps I’ve ever had.
Page 1 of 1