gastronomy,  lifestyle,  travel

Quarter century gone by

As my 25th year draws to a close, with a couple short weeks until my next anniversaire, I feel compelled to take stock of the past year and all its adventure. I realize most people have this moment of nostalgia around New Year’s, but for me, such reminiscence is stirred by my encroaching birthday. Since I was a kid, I have always felt the need to be older…perhaps believing that I could skip the awkward, gawky faze of adolescence right to what I believed to be the good stuff. I have a distinct recollection of fervently wishing I could be 25 years old, for in my mind, that was the ideal age–still young and energetic enough to be bounding around with fervor and excitement, but mature and suitably wizened in the ways of the world to be independent and make appropriate choices. While I know many will say that I’d probably be eating my words once I hit adulthood, longing for rose-coloured youth, with its relative freedom from responsibility and financial burden, I can safely say that my belief that 25 would be an awesome age was, I dare say, prescient. Indeed, with my 25th birthday came one hell of a year.

It started off mundanely enough, deeply entrenched in thesis writing–hours and hours of MA madness to keep me occupied. By April, I had successfully defended it and had safely secured my graduate degree. My thesis had been something of a dam, holding back all the other things in my life, that was soon after ruptured. I attended the first of several academic conferences, visiting my soon-to-be-husband’s future city of Chicago and giving my first oral presentation of my academic career. For the next month, I was deep in wedding mode, as the obsessive streak in me cannot seem to do things in half-way measures. So I took over the apartment with yards of ribbon, scattered prototypes of invitations and menus, and scoured antique and thrift shops for books and luggage. Despite the stress of planning and being crafty, I viewed my approaching nuptials with equanimity. I suppose that was the most reassuring, for there was not a shred of doubt or stray fear, not a single concern that I was soon to be bound to the same man for the rest of my life. It never even entered my mind–my feet were aflame (well, at least not cold)! Indeed, my only concern was not finishing my table decor setup instruction booklet on time. But in the end, despite the rainy morning, I couldn’t have been happier on my wedding day…everything went smoothly and looked beautiful, and I cemented (yet again) my relationship with my David.

It wasn’t even six months into my being 25 and what a whirlwind already! Milestones were being reached in rapid succession. Not two weeks after the wedding, we were receiving our Master’s degrees and the Dean’s medal for goodness sake. Then, we were off to France for our honeymoon, which was perhaps the best trip I have ever taken. How I loved just cruising around the back country lanes in our little Twingo (whom we named Toulouse!). I had more foie gras and Champagne than I’ve ever had and ate some seriously delicious meals at some supremely divine restaurants. Ate so much duck that it actually got to the point where we had to stop and find something else to eat. The castles and landscape, not to mention the company, were wildly entertaining, and I can only wait, with baited breath, to be able to return again. We were not long in Vancouver before rushing off to yet another wedding celebration in Colorado with David’s family. Off in the mountains, at the family cabin, we had a pleasant afternoon of horseshoes and fire-grilled steaks. We made a brief stop in Chicago to grab an apartment for the fall–a great 2-bedroom find by the lake–before heading back home.

A frenzy of packing ensued, as we stuffed all our worldly possessions into a U-haul trailer and hitched to the back of my parents’ RV. We then began our lengthy cross-country journey across 8 states to move us to David’s new city. I enjoyed seeing the more rustic side of the States, passing through small towns and parks. We drove over 3,500 kilometres, and I was amazed that we didn’t have any problems with the trailer or the RV or moving in (the only damage was one slightly chipped dog bowl!). It was a relatively quiet time, as David settled into his school work and I set up the house and studied for the GRE. It wasn’t long before I was off again, this time for a two-week stint in Japan, presenting at a conference and jetting around to do a bit of sight-seeing. After a month-long pit-stop in Vancouver to get in a bit of testing and home-cooking, I was back to Chicago. Two weeks later, out the door again, this time for Cancun, Mexico. I’d never been to Mexico before, mind you, I can’t really say that I’ve really “experienced” it to any great extent. The beach was gorgeous, and the hotel was pretty swanky, but that’s about the extent of it.

Thus, at the ripe ol’ age of 25, I traveled over 35,000 miles, got married, got my Master’s degree, and started working towards building an academic career. As a kid, I don’t think I could have imagined where I would be at 25, who I would have met and what I would be doing. All the things I thought I’d be doing are long gone. But despite my inaccuracy about the specific nature of my life fifteen years in the future, I was certainly right about one thing. 25 was a damn good year.

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