Here are you are folks. So much happened this last summer, but here it is narrowed down to 30 top moments.
30. Dropping my mother’s camera into Boulder River. I found this nature trail online that sounded beautiful, so my dad and I went to check it out. I got distracted, as I always do, by the side trails, and one of them happened to lead to these rocks overlooking the river so of course I couldn’t resist. I ended up watching the camera I was borrowing from my mother slip off the rocks and into the river.
29. Sleeping in a room with a window. Because of the design of my apartment back in Taiwan, I had dwelled in a room with no windows for a couple of years. That’s changing in September, by the way.
28. Running to the end of Marysville and back. Marysville is by no means a massive town. One of the main artery roads is State Street, and I live right off of it. When I was little, walking down State seemed to be such a feat. Running the 5-mile loop was a very reminiscent route for me – I got to see a lot of the things that defined growing up in Marysville.
27. Wandering around the campus of my Alma Mater. Revisiting Crown College for the first time was a little crazy for me. It was a crazy wash of memories all at once. But you know what I say about those four years of my life: “No repeats, no regrets!”
26. Running into a friend from high school in the place I went to college. The last place I expected to reconnect with Bethany Meaden again was Minnesota, where I was busy meeting up with friends from college. She and her husband had moved there, and facebook told her I was in the area. So voila! We met up and caught up with life in Minnesota.
25. Eating crab for the first time. Crab (and a lot of other seafood, actually) scared me when I was a child, ok? And I was already a picky eater. Yes, I realize I was missing out but it’s only forward motion from here.
24. Running around a field playing with three different balls/recreational tools (a football, a frisbee, and a soccer ball) with some of my best guy friends from high school while all the girls sat on a bench and watched.
23. Getting a bonsai tree tattoo with my sister.
22. Wandering around Minnesota, by feet and by car, getting lost and asking for help. It’s still so incredible to me that a whole other state has became such a significant landmark in the geography of my life. I love that state, all the trees, the rolling hills and fields, the endless highways, and ALL OF THOSE LAKES.
21. All the dinners and coffee dates and other various rendezvous with friends while I was in Minnesota for a whole week. And I had the most incredible hosts while I was there. My two dear friends Josiah and Sarah Stumbo let me stay with them and provided everything I could possibly need. I kind of wish I was home more to enjoy both of them, but time was limited. And we definitely got to hang out.
20. DRIVING AGAIN!
19. Watching my friend Tim from college play a show at a coffee shop in St. Paul. Listening to Tim’s music reminded of all the good things about my life in Minnesota, and so much of it did revolve around music. Going to shows. Listening to friends perform at local venues. Writing and singing songs that those in our little music community shared with each other. Being healed through my own musical expression. And it was also good to see my friend, after three years, still making music.
18. The BBQ we had at Jennings Park a week after I got back into town. Teachers, classmates, friends from church, one-year-old babies – all kinds of beautiful faces representative of my life in Washington came together that Sunday afternoon. It felt so comfortable and so right to be seeing them all again.
17. Playing scrabble with my mom.
16. Hanging out in Seattle. I did this on a few occasions with different people and every time was AWESOME. I love that city.
15. Playing the accordion and the glockenspiel on my best friend’s worship team at her church during the week I visited her in Massachusetts.
14. The sistership road trip. This was the most loaded trip ever. We never stopped doing things, and even when plans changed, things kept working out. And despite the lag time that gave the two of us a little more time to argue, I have a pretty cool sister for the most part, and I was really happy she was there, experiencing good times, new experiences and community with me.
13. Going to Goodwill on a whim to look for a second hand bike, finding one, and riding it 35 miles that same day. It’s a vintage Huffy Omni-10, by the way, if that means anything to you.
12. Jumping out of a plane. Yep, I did it. My sister and I went sky-diving when we were down in Oregon. Believe it or not, I never felt completely safe going in tandem. That guy could have decided he didn’t like me at any minute and released me to my death.
11. Hanging out with my forever friend Melody TWICE. I’ve known my friend Melody Ketchum since kindergarten. Then she started going to my same high school. It was meant to be.
10. Hanging out with my friend Dan before his wedding and basically becoming a part of the Werner family for a weekend.
9. Watching Joanna, my best friend from my life in Taiwan, marry the man who shares her same heart.
8. Watching my buddy Zach get married in the chapel of the college we both graduated from, and hanging out with him that whole day before he tied the not. Zach and I made our “nerd” connection in the college honors program and the rest is 4 years of an intellectually honest, spiritually challenging, and emotionally supportive and platonic friendship. Finally leaving the reception was a bittersweet moment, but we both know we will always be friends.
7. Seeing my roommates from college again and catching up on all of our dynamic and exciting lives. Just being with these incredible women again talking and eating and laughing reminded me of the awesome community we had with each other – and still have to this day.
6. Sitting around a fire with friends at Cannon Beach. Cannon Beach is one of my favorite places in the whole entire world. It’s also the place where I learned to love community again. Sitting on the beach with those friends, making s’mores, watching the sunset, taking pictures, and just kicking it – that evening was the best (and only so far) Cannon Beach reunion I’ve ever experienced.
5. Climbing Mt. Pilchuck. I have been staring at this peak for as long as I can remember. On a cloudless day if there are no trees in the way, I can see it from my front yard. So this summer, since I was in America, I decided I was going to hike it. I rounded up the troops, and 6 of us had an awesome trip up to the peak.
4. Getting a little bit lost and confused at the airport when I landed in Seattle at the beginning of the summer. When I arrived at the airport, it hit me that my family and I hadn’t communicated at all about the pick-up. Thanks to the airport’s wireless and my sister’s smart phone (I didn’t have an American phone at this point yet), we figured it out, but I’ll never forget when I saw my dad and he just grabbed me and held me and didn’t let go.
3. Backyard wedding and high school reunion. It was a fantastic Saturday night, that night two friends from high school got married in a backyard, a backyard that actually a lot of us had made memories in back in the day. Matrimony was celebrated, food was eaten, speeches were made, toasts were given, friends hung out and reconnected. It was a good night.
2. Spending the evening with my friend Timira and her family in Portland. Something rather profound happened to me after hanging out with Timira and Josh and their adorable 2-year-old Kai. This crazy contentment completely filled me – all sense of restlessness or excitement or nervousness about returning to Taiwan tomorrow and continuing life there was totally lifted. For the first time in my life, I knew it truly doesn’t matter where in the world I am. I will always have friends. I will always have family. Whether or not I return or permanently re-locate.
1. Sunday night dinner with my best friend and roommate from college and her community of best friends in Worcester, Mass. Before we partook of the meal together, we sang the chorus of the song “10,000 Reasons” together:
Bless the Lord, oh my soul
Oh my soul, worship His holy name
Sing like never before, oh my soul
I worship Your holy name.
In that moment, I was reminded of everything – love, community, friendship, vulnerability, God’s face shining down on all of us. And the most beautiful part was that I was thankful that my best friend had found this. And that this would be what I was returning to at the end of the summer when I go back to Taiwan.