A - Attend a community college, later transfer to a state college, and use public buses for almost my entire college career. Six buses a day, in fact. I couldn’t afford a car. Couldn’t afford to go away to school and have the college experience I had read about and watched in the movies.
B - Destroy a book. But in my defense, I fell asleep in my lavender-scented bubble bath and dropped my hardcover biography into the lukewarm water.
C - Fear contentedness. Feel like I settled. The reliable car (not the convertible I’ve always wanted). A home in the middle of the city (not by the beach like I’ve always dreamed). The steady job with benefits and a paycheck every month (not the unpredictable income of a freelance writer).
D - Be disappointed in viewing the Mona Lisa. When we planned our trip to Paris, a day at the Louvre was a must. Seeing the Mona Lisa was a definite. And after waiting in lines to enter the museum, and again in front of the painting, I was disappointed. This painting garnered all that fuss? It was smaller than I thought it would be. There were guards and a rope keeping me a safe distance away. Nothing about the portrait of that woman resonated with me.
E - Be estranged from my brother. My brother, nine-years-older, always teased me - my stuffed animals, my acne-ridden face, the early dating adventures. Things were said, behaviors and actions that are not easily forgiven or forgotten. And ten years passes with no contact from the guy I used to think was so cool.
F - Fantasize about quitting my job. Nine years as a public school teacher in Los Angeles, and my job isn’t getting any easier. The children are more challenging, the day-to-day ordeal of paperwork and meetings is becoming increasingly time consuming. Seems like the longer I teach, the more difficult it is to do what I want to do - help children, teach, and make a connection.
G - Give away my heart at a young age and marry at 22. They say life can’t be planned, and the older I get, the more convinced I am that it’s true.
H - Spend four days in the hospital because my left calf became so swollen I couldn’t walk. A mysterious ailment that robbed me of my ability to walk for weeks. Instead, I was restricted to bed rest, a walker, a wheelchair, and forced to slide down on my tush when needing to get from our upstairs to our downstairs.
I - Imagine one day returning to college. College was supposed to be the place where I explored ideas and learned about the world and met new people. It was, but to a very limited extent. I was paying my own way through college, working and studying. I needed to finish, as quickly as possible. I decided on a major, a career choice, and college became the means to the end. I wanted to be a teacher so I needed a Bachelor’s degree. What would it be like to return to college, without the stress of finances? Without worrying about grades? Taking classes that truly interested me and not because they were requirements for my degree?
J - Write to a Japanese pen pal for seventeen years. Our friendship began my senior year of high school. Aya is a few years older than me. We’ve written during our dating adventures, as we became teachers, wives, and mothers.
K - Become so sentimental that I’d keep receipts from our honeymoon, the purchase of our first dining table, and the tags from my son’s first outfits.
L - Love so many children. Every year, a new class of students finds their way into my heart. I tell them I love them every day. And I do. They are “my kids.”
M - I’d move out of my parents home to live ten minutes away. Growing up I was the one who wanted to travel - to eat pizza in Italy, crepes in France, and sushi in Japan. My roots, it turns out, are firmly planted in the zip code I now share with my parents.
N - Neglect myself. I thought I was smart enough, had read enough to know and truly understand that to take care of all my loved ones, I need to take care of myself. But I don’t.
O - Be the mother of an only child. I was blessed with a healthy pregnancy and a happy, angelic son. My husband and I both work full-time outside of our home. Our lifestyle just makes sense for one child.
P - Have only one stamp in my passport. At the age of 29, I achieved a life-time dream - I visited Paris, France. And that trip is the only international trip I have taken. So far. Gondolas await in Venice, koalas in Australia, and the Eiffel Tower beckons me to return. International trips are expensive, air travel is scary. It’ll happen. One day.
Q - Question my marriage. We’ve been a couple of thirteen years, married for eleven of those. And what I thought was an absolute certainty, suddenly wasn’t. Our marriage was suffering. People grow up and sometimes apart. We seemed like different people than those we dated. And, yet, we’re finding our way back to each other.
R - Use a public men’s restroom. During a taping of the game show “Jeopardy,” at the Sony studio in Culver City, CA, the audience was given a brief bathroom break. As is common, there was a considerable line for the women’s room and no line at the men’s. After the men had used their facility, my dad kept watch at the door while I and other ladies relieved ourselves in the men’s room.
S - Shoplift. My one-year-old son had accompanied me to the teacher supply store. While we walked the aisles, he was entertained holding onto different items - a book, a pack of stickers, my keys. At the car, I unbuckled my son from his shopping cart cushion and discovered a small chalkboard eraser had been nestled down next to his thigh. The item cost about $2, but I didn’t go back in to pay for it. We accepted it as a donation to teachers.
T - Be so reluctant to taste new foods. But, alas, I refuse to taste caviar, rabbit, and escargot.
U - Grow-up to become a woman who under-appreciates herself. I don’t accept compliments well, and am convinced that if someone flatters my physical appearance, they are merely being polite.
V - Visit a marriage therapist. Things are said, arguments increase, and suddenly there is a fear that this relationship isn’t working the way it should, the way it did. And we looked for advice and counsel from an objective listener.
W - Wear jeans in a size larger than my mother’s. A few years ago, my mother was ill and lost a significant amount of weight. Additionally, my mom has a rear-end that is much flatter than my rounder one. My mother, thirty years older than I, wears a smaller size jean.
X - Become mysteriously injured and require a multitude of x-rays. Sometimes, even with all the available medical technology, the only answer a doctor can give is, “I don’t know.”
Y - Smear egg yolks on my face. In my attempts for a clearer complexion, I heeded Dear Abby’s words of advice, and tried this home remedy. In an act of solidarity, my mom joined me. Neither she nor I noticed any change in our complexions.
Z - Miss my maternity pants. But there’s something to be said for jeans without zippers.