I am sixty-six years old. That’s a long time to be an active participant in this world. Though there are still many things I have never done, the list of things that I’ve done only once is fairly short. Once in my life:
- I got married. I wore a white empire style dress that I found on sale for $75.00, including the veil. Later, my sister Sheila wore it for her wedding, and spilled red wine down the front of it. Still later, my youngest daughter tried to modify it; that was the end of the dress. My bridesmaids had pretty, but cheap, silky red dresses that barely made it through the night before they started to fray and split at the seams. The ceremony was held at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Lapeer, Michigan, where I’d attended mass for all of my life. Because my Dad had a little bit of a feud going with some factions of my soon-to-be husband’s family (and because many members of his family had a pretty big reputation around town as drinkers and fighters), we worried about trouble at the reception. There was none. I smiled until my cheeks ached for my Grandma Florence’s camera. I danced for hours. I tried to talk to everyone.
- I got divorced. Marriage was hard; divorce was harder…but at least there was an end in sight.
- I flew out to California. I went to San Francisco, San Jose, and north to Calaveras County. I swam in the ocean, camped on the beach, explored caves, and hiked in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
- I sailed away from Beaver Island’s Paradise Bay to Port Huron, in a twenty-nine foot sailboat, as part of a three-person crew. In October. Up through the Straits of Mackinac and down the length of Lake Huron, with a headwind all the way. Five days and five nights on the water. It was hard, but wonderful at the same time. I had never sailed before, and I’ve never sailed since.
- I took a ride in a bi-plane, doing barrel rolls and spins in the open air.
- I traveled to Grand Turk Island, in the British West Indies, to participate in an archaeological dig. While there, I ate conch, served up fried, with chips, and khyton, which I scraped from a rock and ate raw, as the native people we were studying would have.
- Though I’ve been on a few “Sisters Vacations” now, and have gotten to Florida in the winter a couple times, I’ve only been to Nashville once. It was with my sisters, maybe four or five years ago. Though my husband and I drove through Nashville many years ago, with our small children, on our way to Little Rock, Arkansas. That was the only time I was there. And, now that I think about it, there were things I did or places I visited on these and other vacations that I haven’t done again, too.
And that. I think, brings me to the end of this short list of things I have only done once.