Looking back to what was; to the previous, the prior, the last and the past; to ago, gone by and yesterday.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.
As one year approaches its end and another awaits its fate, members of the media (and anyone with that new Flipagram app) will try to get your attention by recapping all that was in 2013: Best Movies, Best Songs, Best Dressed, Best Books, Best Apps, Best Episodes of Breaking Bad, Best Selfies, Best Worst Kimye Moments, etc. Each list will likely be composed of 13 bests as a nod to the year that was. (So clever!)
Since I like to be a teensy bit different, I’m going to give you a list of 13…and a half of my Best Days. Because, let’s be honest, sometimes a day might start out seeming like it’ll be the tops, and next thing you know there’s a group of toddlers (not belonging to your friends) AT THE BAR you chose for your 35th birthday party. Or, you get stopped at airport security TWICE and still manage to make your flight to a country where the views look like this:
Also, sometimes even just a minute can make a whole day. In turn, just one day (or maybe 13.5…) can make a whole year. And what an epic whole year it’s been for me. A year of change. A year of growth. A year in which my head was often full of doubt, but the roads I took were full of promise (and God knows I literally, and figuratively, traipsed all over them!).
Without further ado, in order of occurrence, here are my 13.5 Best Days of 2013:
1. The Day I Ate My First English Breakfast…With a Stranger.
Because of the possibilities it stood for and the expectations I didn’t have. To recap: It was my first Saturday in London. It was cold and rainy. I knew not where I was going (or living, for that matter!), but somehow I ended up at the renown greasy spoon E. Pellicci in Bethnal Green for a full fry-up. Seconds before the cockney-accented owner served me a plate of sizzling blubber, a cute boy was sat opposite me. We talked…and talked…and talked some more. Next thing I knew I had a date that night. Before meeting him in Notting Hill, though, I also managed to buy some Banksy prints at Spitalfields, grab a pie-to-go at Broadway Market and figure out which bus to take back to my flat in Wapping. Speaking of buses…
2. The Day the No. 100 Bus Driver Recognized Me.
Because I felt like a local, despite being over 3,000 miles from home. (Runner up: The day the barista at White Mulberries recognized me. Same same, but different, yeah?)
3. The Day I Went to Paris for The (Second) First Time.
Because the view of the Eiffel Tower from the Montparnasse, the two pairs of shoes I bought before 2p.m., the fact that camembert and Beaujolais does a meal make, the meet-cute movie moment I starred in, and the light. Oh, the light!
4. The Day I Had No Cash or Debit Card At a Cash-Only Market in London.
Because a good Aussie friend came to the rescue and bought me flowers. Because the sun was shining so bright it felt as if they could’ve sprung from the ground that morning despite it being February. Oh, and because I received compliments on my sequin-leggings-paired-with-sneakers ensemble, slurped an oyster shucked on the street and got lost in a maze of murals in Shoreditch.
5. The Day I Woke Up With Food Poisoning.
Because a Fabulous co-worker and boss brought me toothpaste, ginger ale and a much-needed embrace, proving that I’d always have friends in Blighty. And because later that day, when I was finally able to lift myself upright and leave the house for some air, I took a walk that led me over London Bridge and along the South Bank where a stranger kindly offered to take my photo. He then proceeded to talk to me, which as a New Yorker instinctively felt alarming. But as we continued down the Bank and over Tower Bridge, he waxed poetically about life, and struck an emotional chord I didn’t even realize needed fine-turning. Soon enough, faith in humanity—and myself—trumped fear.
6. The Day Amy and I Lost Each Other Immediately Upon Arriving in Amsterdam.
Because we found each other and then got unintentionally sloshed on beer, followed by a long-overdue stop at a “coffee shop” after which we chowed down on chips.
7. The Day After My Last Day at The Post/Fabulous.
Needless to say, the last day, and those leading up to it, were pretty terrible. Like, head-pain, chest-pain WTF-pain terrible. But then it was done and I was a freelancer. And it felt…freeing. Of that day, which I spent with my brother who was visiting, I mostly remember the sun. I remember it as it came through the stained glass windows of the Blackfriar Pub where we ate lunch next to a table of policemen who had just come from Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. I remember it on my face it as we walked through the courtyard at Westminster Abbey. I remember it feeding the flowers suddenly in bloom in St. James’s Park. I remember it going down into the Thames, behind the Tower Bridge just before we plopped ourselves into a table-for-two at Il Bordello, an Italian restaurant near my flat that I’d been wanting to try. I don’t know if it’s because up until that day it had been so cold and rainy or if I’d just been trapped inside during daylight hours and therefore hadn’t truly been able to see it. But I remember its rays bringing me such joy and that I was all yellow.
8. The Day I Road a Bike and Ate Cake Twice in Slovenia.
Because riding a bike on a desolate road amid big open fields of flowers and snowcapped mountains to what seems like Nowheresville is truly bliss. Until, that is, Nowheresville turns out to be Somewheresville and it’s made up of wooden bridges over gorges of rushing aqua water. Because after walking through Somewheresville, I enjoyed a more confident ride back to town where a creamy, flaky, pudding-y dessert called Kremna Rezina is a speciality. And, well, because specialties are meant to be sampled at not one, but two local establishments. Ya know, to see what’s so special about them.
9. The Day My Mother And I Danced to Daft Punk at a Restaurant in Jerusalem.
Because nothing says Mother-Daughter Night Out than grooving to “Get Lucky” in the middle of our Homeland’s hipster hotspot with its chef, servers and a group of Canadian tourists. Oh, and because earlier, we literally walked through the walls of ancient history below the Old City, and later on navigated above it to experience Jerusalem’s annual Festival of Light.
10. The Day My Sister and I Wore Tutus in Support of MS.
Because wearing tutus is always a good idea. Because we raised money for a cause that’s way-too-close-to-home and got to meet some of our favorite So You Think You Can Dance all-stars. And because sometimes a team of two is all you need.
11. The Day I Took a Shower at Esalen.
Because bathing on the edge of glory in Big Sur may actually bring about peace on earth. Because we followed it up by getting giddy on Bloody Mary’s at Nepenthe, where I ate the most insane shrimp BLT sandwich. Because later that night I fell asleep in a chair under what seemed like a million stars.
12. The Day I Rode the Train to Portland, Oregon.
Because I remembered how much I love train travel, even though I wasn’t going very far or to another country where they speak a foreign language. Because I had no agenda or idea of what I’d do when I got there. Because after being in SoCal for the better part of October, once I arrived I was quickly reminded of fall:
13. The Day My Family and I Hiked to the Hollywood Sign.
Because we made it all the way to the top and down, ate a scrumptious brunch outside at Joan’s on Third and then sat in the audience for the live finale of our favorite reality show. And we laughed a lot along the way.
Because it’s not over yet. And for lack of sounding completely predictable and cheesy, hope is what I’ve got. Because for someone who struggled to whittle down 365 days to 13, I’ve sure as shit been feeling less than best-y lately. Because, if you have’t noticed, the majority of these “best” days were far from home. Because I have only a vague idea of what the rest of the day will bring, let alone tomorrow or even (gasp!) New Year’s Freaking Eve, which both terrifies and excites me. (But also saddens me a little bit.) Because I’m clearly still looking for the in-between. The balance. The .5.
Here’s to 2014…and at least 14.5 Best Days.