Is it weird that the reason I associate "31" as a noteworthy number is because that's the bus I remember riding to elementary school?

Yeah, it's probably weird.

So 31 happened/is happening to me today. Technically the mark will hit at 2:38 p.m., but no one really cares about that kind of detail, do they?

I promise cheetahs will be relevant by the end of this post.

I was reflecting briefly yesterday on just what that "31" meant to me, besides a school bus number, and it occurred to me that I could probably think of at least 31 events or opportunities I've been privileged to experience in the years since I accidentally came screaming into the world.

Let's test it out, shall we?

1. It means the world to me that I managed to find/be found by a woman named Tamara Wiles, and that she counted me worth enough to stick with me since then. It boggles the brain at times to think she's so patient with me, supportive of me, willing to put up with my unequivocal weirdness. You have to admit, that's a LOT of weird.

I mean, honestly. The weird just SCREAMS itself from me.

2. I've had the opportunity to grow up under the care/love/tutelage of two incredible parents. I won't be trite and say "I've got the best parents in the world no matter what anyone else says." But I do have the best parents in existence no matter what anyone else says. Yeah, things got awkward that one time I stole a cookie from the big round Tupperware/Rubbermaid container where we kept the cookies and Dad asked me if I stole one and I said no and he gave me that "I know you did so you might as well confess" look and I finally confessed and got in trouble, but they've been so present and interested and simply there whether I needed them at that moment or not.

3. I've had the opportunity to grow up around a ridiculously diverse yet uniformly intelligent and graceful group of sisters. I can relate to each one on so many things, excluding long-term room sharing (ha ha, suckers), liking boys and shoulder-length hair.

I'm related to most of these people. And none of the boys, either.

4. We don't have kids yet, but we have a delightfully sweet dog, who makes me smile every day with his curl-up-in-a-tiny-ball way of napping and his sniffing my ears (it's weird, but I love when he does it) and even his weird obsession with eating dried worms.

5. Though I'm not sure where it will lead me, I'm glad to have the opportunity to be in graduate school going for a master's degree in something related to something I love. Yeah, it's a lot of literature, which isn't my favorite, but it's a great opportunity that I don't really have to pay for so it won't hurt when I'm done. Also, how many people can say they understand the old language of the Russian Orthodox church? That's like being able to read/write Old English or Gaelic.

I know what this says. Do you?

This is going to get really long if I don't adopt some brevity.

6. I was fortunate to graduate from the Mizzou school of Journalism, one of the best in the country (and not by my opinion alone).

7. That helped me get the great job I currently have working with what is and is still becoming the number one TV station in mid-Missouri.

Even in full blizzard coverage mode they're a hoot to work with.

8. I got to work for 8 years at a good restaurant with good food but even better co-workers and managers. It really was a blessing for me.

9. Speaking of blessings, how can I sum up in a few words the greatness of the opportunity I've had to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? I can't, so I won't except to say it's made all the difference in my life.

10. It gave me the opportunity to serve a mission in Russia, which has been and will be one of the most truly unique experiences I've ever had.

It was two years of the hardest work I've ever done in my life.

11. Related to that, I've survived not one, but two Siberian winters.

12. On the topic of travel, I've had the chance to visit so many really incredible places. They include: the Parthenon in Athens, Greece

It took me forever to realized I had the stupid date in the corner.

13. The ruins at Delphi, Greece

14. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

15. Il Duomo in Florence, Italy

Probably my favorite building in the world.

16. La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain

17. Munich, Germany

18. Heidelberg, Germany. I still insist I will live there someday.

It'll happen. We're going to have our summer home here. Winter home in Italy.

19. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

20. The Louvre in Paris, home of the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo

21. The French Riviera

Monte Carlo. Not the Chevy car, the real thing.

22. Madrid, Spain

23. Costa Rica. It's the freaking rainforest! How cool is that?

24. Moscow, Russia - it wasn't in my mission, so I'm giving it its own spot.

25. Tallinn, Estonia - how many people can say they've been to Estonia?

I might need to live here one day as well. Spring home?

26. Lots of places around the U.S. like New York City, Washington, D.C., Boundary Waters in Minnesota, the Grand Canyon, the top of the Sears Tower, etc. Not unique? How many people do you know that have been to ALL those places? Not as many as you'd think, I'd wager.

27. Enough travel. Sports now. I had the incredible chance to not just see my favorite St. Louis Cardinals win two World Series, but I got to cover them as a sports reporter for one of them. That meant field access during their playoffs series against the Padres and being outside Busch Stadium as they won their first championship since the year I was born.

28. I've had the opportunity to be a part of two of my best friends' weddings, both times as a groomsman.

It was too much fun, even if Men's Wearhouse gave me a halter-top vest.

29. Crap, I'm running out of ideas. Um, I've beaten several computer games without cheating, like Diablo, Diablo II.....um, that's all. I also leveled a Night Elf rogue to 51 in World of Warcraft (what is wrong with me?)

30. Oh! I have had a great amount of fun being an uncle to three delightfully delightful nephews/niece who make me laugh all the time I see them, which is not nearly enough.

I clearly don't have the same effect on them.

31. I've been able to see actual cheetahs. That may not be big to you, but they're my absolutest mostest favorite animal ever, so I'm excited about it (told you they'd be relevant by the end of the post).

So there you are. It's been a good life for me, and I'm grateful for all I've been able to see, do, hear, experience and live thus far. Let's hope for an equally good or better next 31.

You're next on my bucket list, Moon.


Peeser said…
The main question I have is: Is/was the Louvre home to the GUMMI Venus de Milo? (I mean, BEFORE Homer ate it...)

And I love that in the picture of us all dressed up as Harry Potter geeks, the ultimate "s" on my shirt got cut off, so it looks like it says "The Weird Sister" (which is still appropriate, I suppose).

Here's to another 31+ years, bro!

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