My little sister and her husband just flew to New Orleans for a nice winter/New Year’s vacation. They missed the nine degrees overnight low we were all experiencing and it’s a heck of a city. I know. I went there when I was 21. Got up at the crack of dawn in July and had the whole entire plane to ourselves, save for a very drunk bridal party, who then accompanied us in our van to the French Quarter. The city is full of haunting images and smells and experiences. I’ll never forget walking down Bourbon Street at 3:00 am, shoulder to shoulder with the sweatiest, drunkest people I’d seen since…Rutgers University. It was not on my Bucket List, ever, to see New Orleans but it was a birthday gift from an ex and we had a heck of a time.
It was different for my sister. They were fulfilling a “Bucket List” item for both. Now I can’t be entirely sure I know what I’m talking about, but I did Google it, and it involved seeing Michigan (NOT Michigan State) play (and beat) Virginia Tech on January 3rd. I don’t know if the Bucket List required seeing those two play each other, seeing those two play each other in New Orleans, or at the Superdome, or at the Sugar Bowl, just see Michigan at the Superdome, just see Michigan at the Sugar Bowl, or see a game together as a married couple, or what. Not my field of expertise! I don’t know. What I do know is that when my sister told me they were going to New Orleans, partly or mainly to check off a Bucket List item, I reacted happily:
Just like that. I love hearing stories of checked off Bucket List items. No matter what it is. Doing something dangerous or safe, far away or close, difficult or easy, these are Bucket List items. This is your life. Live a little, I suppose. Live a lot.
It made me want to write down my own Bucket List, which has been brewing in my head for years.
My Bucket List isn’t fixed – it’s fluid. It has changed over the years and will change again. There are many items that used to be on it that I have checked off – seeing the Hollywood sign on its mountain, standing above the Golden Gate Bridge, falling in love…more than once…in that pure way in which you can’t stop grinning and mooning all day long and you also trust them and would do anything for them, having a moose and wolf-themed wedding, becoming a mother, riding in a helicopter. And so, so much more.
Then there are the unchecked Bucket List items. The Master List, in which I don’t believe I’m forgetting much. It’s not in any particular order of importance:
1. Dance like a maniac in public. I have done this before, many times, but not in a good long while so I’m putting it back on The List.
2. Have a photo published in a book or magazine. Or heck, several photos. Hundreds. Thousands.
3. Have photos I’ve taken featured prominently on the walls of a home that doesn’t belong to either me or my family. An unrelated family who loves my work that much.
4. Visit Isle Royale National Park. It’s a park on an island on Lake Superior, in the northern part of Michigan. It’s an island full of moose and wolves, and in which they co-exist fairly harmoniously. Both of their populations are able to grow, despite the presence of the other. Ecologists take note of this. So do I.
5. Visit Glacier Bay National Park, not to be confused by Glacier National Park in Montana. Glacier Bay is in Alaska and it is filled with moose, wolves and whales. And TONS more. And glaciers.
6. On the same subject as above, visit Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. You can win a lottery to drive on the road, but most people can only traipse through by bus. Still worth it.
7. See some polar bears somewhere in Manitoba, Canada – the “Polar Bear Capital.”
8. Once a friend of a friend told me a story about his visit to the city of Calgary. I guess moose are common in the city and he saw a moose walk right by a bus stop. Two old ladies were sitting on a bench at the bus stop. The moose walked by them and they didn’t bat an eye or stop their heated conversation. I want to go somewhere where seeing moose is so normal that you don’t even stop your gossiping to gape at one.
9. Be the first to show my kids their first moose sighting.
10. See a blue whale. No explanation necessary.
11. Go on a (somewhat) safe Great White Shark Expedition during breeding season off the coast of the Farallon Islands. Some people would be afraid to do that. I’m less afraid of sharks than I am of…like…trying marijuana. So we all choose our battles in life.
12. Hold another newborn in my arms. Another newborn that is mine. Finding a newborn to hold isn’t actually that hard.
13. Either live half of the year or even all of it, eventually, in northern California.
14. Write a book. Or write an excerpt or part of a book. Or publish a magazine article.
15. See Northern Lights!
16. I’d even settle for an intense meteor shower.
17. Spend the night alone in a fancy, fancy hotel. I’m talking like the Plaza Hotel in Home Alone 2, but preferably not in NYC.
18. Cook a gourmet meal all by myself.
19. Learn to meditate.
20. Learn to have more lucid dreams. The ones I’ve had have been JUICY.
21. Learn how to start my own business and…start one!
22. See Tom Petty live.
23. See Bruce Hornsby live.
24. Finally get to Tanglewood. It’s never canceled and yet on the day we had tickets, we got hit with Hurricane Irene. Really, Irene? You suck.
25. Have a home hot tub or jacuzzi bath tub.
26. Train a dog all by myself.
27. Make a speech or a toast, or some sort of public address, that brings people to tears.
28. Escape a New England winter, or even just a week or two of one, and go somewhere tropical. Florida doesn’t count since that’s as far south as I’ve been, sadly.
I hope it will change again and again. ‘Cause that would mean I’m checking off items as if my life depended on it…which it kinda does, doesn’t it?