Year of the Bucket List (Part 2)




I have told everyone who will listen about the trip, with the exception of Amanda, the girl who works in our neighborhood fish spot. Oh, I’m hungry just thinking about it while I talk about her. Amanda is young, and White, but I’d bet my next paycheck that she grew up in a Black neighborhood. She’s comfortable around Black people, doesn’t get frazzled when some of the rude customers waiting for the bus in front of the shop get an attitude. She wears a chef’s uniform in a way that tells me she’s taking her job seriously, and hopes she doesn’t have to type orders into an ipad for too much longer.

Brandon is the one who struck up the first real conversation with her. After they got beyond “Where do you live?” she told him that she has never travelled. Never. As in she’s never left the state of New York, not one time. And this, my friends, made me incredibly sad. Weeks later I asked her where she would go if she could travel anywhere in the world, and she told me Colorado was her first choice.

“Why Colorado?” I asked.

“Well,” she said with an embarrassed look on her face, “I’ve never seen mountains.”

Uh, here’s the thing: the next time you want to TEAR MY HEART OUT in a fish spot all you need to do is to tell me a person dreams of seeing mountains, but has never had the money to go see one, ok?

She instantly became my project. How could I help wanting to help her? I realize there are worse things in life than suffering from a lack of airline miles, but God didn’t put a young, low-income girl who has never seen anything outside of New York City – with its disgusting subways, and rats, and crazy people everywhere! – in my path for no reason. I have to bless her. I must bless her. If someone beats me to blessing her I’ll be crushed!… so as soon as I get my tax return back I’m going to buy her a groupon for two nights in a Myrtle Beach hotel and a bus ticket to get there and back. Yes, I realize that Colorado and Myrtle Beach are not the same thing, but plane tickets to Colorado are insanely expensive, and c’mon, everyone knows the beach is better than the mountains anyway. I tried to buy the trip over the weekend, and was shocked when I realized ‘I don’t even know her last name’.

Dear God, make me rich so I can forever do things for the people You cause me to care for, whether I know their last name or not. And Lord, let Brandon forever be the understanding, relaxed person that he is because only he could handle a wife like me who will blow our life savings if I get one of my “ideas”.

Other synonyms for relaxed are calm and tranquil, none of which accurately describe Brandon—and least not according to our acupuncturist. For twenty-something years I scoffed whenever people mentioned acupuncture around me, until I found myself on the borderline of depression and was extremely fatigued two years ago. I credit the good Lord for pulling me out of a hopeless pit, saving me from rocky emotions; and I give acupuncture its due for giving me energy and zest!

I noticed Brandon’s energy dropping at the beginning of this year, and decided that we both needed a round of acupuncture when it didn’t come back up after the holidays. And in my case, surely the half-marathon training and job stress and poor diet had nothing to do with it. Nah. As usual, Dr. Nan was upbeat and confident that we could tackle this with a few strategically placed needles. Most doctors who practice western medicine are cautious and practical and don’t want to over-promise results, but Nan basically guarantees you’ll feel better with absolutely nothing to prove it and frankly, I appreciate this type of irresponsible medical care.

We walked into Nan’s new office which is directly across the street from my office – I see you hooking me up Lord, and that’s why we’re friends – and sat down in two chairs across from a peaceful water fountain. Brandon filled out new patient forms while I slipped away with Nan into a room that looks very much like a massage parlor. The walls have a few Chinese drawings on them, but other than that the room is very bare. After you’ve stripped down to your intimates, Nan patiently talks through any pains or stress you have before she inserts her tiny wonders.

“Just the right side of my back,” I said. “And I’d love to drop five pounds so throw one of those in there too,” I joked.

“You’ve gained weight haven’t you?” she asked me.

I let out a massive sigh and then waited for her to insert the first needles for my back pain. But she didn’t. She waited for me to answer her and listened while I explained how I found it odd that I’d been exercising more than ever but hadn’t dropped a single pound. I was feeling heavy (and burdened), and Nan assured me that after two sessions for back pain we could explore what was happening with my metabolism. And for Brandon, she prescribed “at least six sessions” for what she called a “tornado” of stress that he has been carrying around.

I will let you know what happens.

In the meantime, enjoy these pictures that mean more every single time the temperature dips below 60 degrees in April.





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