Happiness isn’t “out there.” It’s “in here.”
In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that I am cheating a little bit with this post, but I wanted to have a regular feature here at HMITH (Yes? No? I can’t decide whether I like the acronym or not), and this is what I’ve come up with.
When I was a senior in high school, my dad went on sabbatical from his job to do research at the University of Barcelona. My mom and I went with him for the fall semester. When I first got there, I was miserable and I cried every day. I know it sounds stupid and ungrateful, and the adult that I am now can see that, but then all I could see was that I’d had to leave my friends, my boyfriend, and all the things that senior year means, to spend four months all the way across the ocean where I didn’t know anyone except my parents.
We moved there in mid-September. In October, my parents enrolled me in a Spanish high school so that I could meet people my own age and have something to do every day. That single choice changed everything about my trip. I made so many friends, and finally had things to do that were interesting to me (back then, museums and stuff just didn’t cut it), and I literally stopped crossing off the days til I got to go home on my calendar. In November, I bought a little notebook – it’s got graph paper in it, which makes me smile, because that’s just how they do it in Europe – and decided to start making a list of, and I quote from the “title page” I created, “Things to be happy about, reasons to smile, the little things that make life worth living, etc. . . .”
I’ve kept it up, on and off, over the past 14 years (almost to the day – the date on the title page is November 5, 1993), and it now has more than 1400 items in it. Reading back through it is like looking at a time capsule of my life at particular points. I can tell, almost without a doubt, where I was when I added any given item, and sometimes, stream of consciousness is obvious because there will be a whole series of related items that take me back to another place altogether (camp, for example). It turns out, too, that some of them don’t quite make sense to me anymore (Nail files? Really, Mel? Must have been a slow news day).
Anyway, I thought I’d pick 10-20 every week and share them with all of you, in the hopes that you’ll get to know a little bit more about me and that they might bring a smile to your faces as well. So without further ado, here is the inaugural edition of Tuesday’s Things To Be Happy About (comments from the current me appear in brackets):
1. adorable foreign boys that you can only look at and laugh at because you can’t speak their language
2. a completely erased blackboard – no stray marks left to annoy you
4. realizing that teenagers everywhere are pretty much the same
5. wishing on the first star you see
6. electronic mail [ha! how long has it been since people called it that?]
7. pineapple juice
8. when you were little, pretending to be asleep in the car so your dad would carry you up to bed
9. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
10. dogs with curly tails
11. long-sleeved t-shirts
12. the way ballet dancers run in toe shoes
13. reading a long book in one day
14. finally grasping something and realizing that you won’t have to take Math 115 pass/fail after all
15. champagne bottles with the black labels you can write on
Hope you enjoyed this – I’m looking forward to your comments!