30×30: Lesson 19: Family comes first

Over the summer I visited my family in the Netherlands after having helped lead a six-week study abroad program in Nantes, France. The night before my flight home, my aunt Colleen and I walked to a local tennis club to sip wine and watch my uncle play doubles. Afterwards, we crowded around a table with…

30×30: Lesson 18: Winter tea and the worth of water

Adapted from “Counting Down,” a post from January 3, 2013. On January 21, 2012, my roommate Dan left for Philadelphia on the snow-covered turnpike and never returned home. He was in the hospital in a coma when I interviewed for entry at the University of Pittsburgh, and he died two days before I got the…

30×30: Lesson 17: Lifelong listening and love

I couldn’t sleep after my first ballet performance (in case you were wondering, it was Laurel Valley Studio’s second rendition of “The Lost Children,” sometime around 1990). The heat of the lights and the swirl of the costumes kept me awake long after bedtime — as well as the memory of my favorite dancer named…

30×30: Lesson 16: Already okay

I have a headache today: one of those caused by the combination of bright sunshine and restless sleep. I went for a run yesterday afternoon because I’m training for this half marathon on October 19, but lately I can barely run four miles without waking up in the middle of the night with throbbing thighs….

30×30: Lesson 15: Intermezzo: My older brother

I’ve reached the halfway point of this 30×30 series. Kind of crazy. There have been some themes: my lessons so far include a lot about fear, letting go, and patience. A lot of them, like Lesson 8, are deeply about how I view myself; others, like Lesson 5, are about how I consider my positioning…

30×30: Lesson 14: This too shall pass

When I was younger, I didn’t fully grasp how my mom could be so in touch with the fact that life goes on. I would sigh with frustration over a botched physics project or a friend who was driving me crazy, and I would wonder aloud what to do and fix and change. Meanwhile, after…

30×30: Lesson 13: Expression over performance

I’ve already written before in this series that I was a pretty horrible dancer until I learned to let go. In the context of that previous post, “letting go” meant being willing to take risks, both physically and emotionally; but for the sake of this post, I’d like to add a different lesson — that…

30×30: Lesson 12: It’s about the process

I’ve written about this multiple times before, but I’ll write about it again: those two weeks in July 2010 when Lynn Palermo and I backpacked in western Europe in order to follow what had been the Western Front of World War I. Those fifteen days beneath France’s cloudless skies still rank among some of my…

30×30: Lesson 11: If you have two legs

When I asked directions to Bray from Greystones, Ireland, in 2007, I was told by an elderly shopkeeper that it wasn’t far as long as I had two legs. I have remembered his comment mostly due to his accent, but I had not fully taken seriously the conditionality of his phrase — “if” — until…

30×30: Lesson 10: The spice of life

There’s a reason why I know all the words to “Tradition,” the opening number to Fiddler on the Roof. From the way my mom spelled out our birthday ages with chocolate chips in the frosting of our cakes, to the races that all the cousins would run (and still do) in my grandmother’s basement during…

30×30: Lesson 9: Dreams deferred

Growing up, I knew that my mother didn’t like three things: Brussels sprouts, centipedes in the downstairs bathtub, and our farmhouse. The first I couldn’t judge (I didn’t taste them until after I was twenty); the second made perfect sense; but the third I didn’t understand, for the house seemed just fine to me. Build…

30×30: Lesson 8: Facial hair, honesty, and having a voice

On the evening that my boyfriend Jon and I held hands on my parents’ corduroy sofa and declared — as you have to when you are 19 — that we were “officially dating,” Jon surprised me by telling me that our relationship had two ground rules. The first one was honesty. The second one was…