Laughing so hard, for so long, that my stomach hurts.

Back in August, when I was thinking up memories that I wanted this year, this one in particular seemed so simple, and yet so unattainable. The late summer and early fall months were some of the most challenging and saddest of my entire life. Although I desperately wanted to fall victim to painful belly laughs, my moments of joy were too fleeting to experience deep laughter.

I relied on my memory, recalling times where I couldn’t catch my breath because I was laughing so hard. I suppose that’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to being a masochist. I hate pain. It’s part of the reason I took so long to get a tattoo. But, there’s something about extreme laughter that I crave.

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Playing (and winning!) in the Fort Lauderdale softball tournament.

Even with the COVID pandemic raging on, in the midst of the Fall surge experts expected, the softball tournament in Fort Lauderdale over the Thanksgiving weekend was never in doubt. In some ways, I suppose that’s a good thing, because I had been looking forward to playing in this tourney since I wrote my Memory List.

Of course, there were safety precautions in place to hopefully stop any spread of the illness. I frequently cleaned my hands with the provided sanitizer in the dugout. The umpire, catcher, and batter all had to wear masks while at the plate. I wore my mask more than was required. Overall, I felt safe. So, Mom, when you read this, you don’t need to worry.

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Cooking a Thanksgiving feast for friends.

Celebrating Thanksgiving, as a significant holiday for me, honestly only happened a handful of years ago. I grew up in Canada, and although the holiday also occurs on the calendar – albeit 6 weeks earlier – it never really felt as momentous. But living in the U.S. changed my impression of Thanksgiving.

Ligeia and I worked hard to create our own traditions. And I cherished them. I spent years tweaking recipes over the past five years to create the perfect spread of vegan dishes. Last year, I was proud of all the food that I cooked, and was happy to have people close to me to share it with.

Earlier this year, during the summer, I wondered whether I would have the same opportunity for this Thanksgiving.

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Doing absolutely nothing on the first day of my sabbatical.

Before I go any further with this memory, I need to edit it: Doing absolutely nothing that I don’t want to do on the first day of my sabbatical.

That makes me feel better. Because, in my journey to find myself and to discover the things that I like, I realize that doing nothing actually isn’t something I enjoy.

Honestly, what would nothing even look like? My first thought is being a couch potato and watching TV all day. I could enjoy that for a few hours, maybe. But then I’d get bored.

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Watching Joe Biden win the election.

It’s been a while since I published a post. And that’s not because I haven’t been actively making memories. I have a number of them, waiting in the wings of my mind, ready to be written. But, it’s this post that’s been clogging things up. It’s this post that has kept my writing blocked.

I suppose I’ve been waiting for the current President to actually concede and have this election made official. Until then, I feel like I’m caught in limbo. I mean, for the past 17 days, I’ve been asking myself whether I’ve actually witnessed Joe Biden win.

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Being a poll worker during the election.

I acutely remember that horrible sinking feeling, watching the results come in back in November 2016, and the dawning realization that Trump had taken Florida and Clinton no longer had a path to victory. I felt sick to my stomach, and a wave of dread washed over me.

The past 4 years have been mentally and emotionally exhausting. The only thing that set the precedent for Trump’s term as President was how unprecedented everything was. Honestly, I think this onslaught of chaos was part of the plan to disengage a large swath of the electorate.

Four years ago, I was a Green Card holder, waiting until I had been a resident in the U.S. for at least 3 years before I could apply for citizenship. I accompanied Ligeia to the polling station, my first time inside an American one, and waited for her to cast her ballot. I longed for the opportunity the participate in the election process, at that time, mostly to get one of those “I Voted” stickers.

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Painting the apartment.

I’m sure there are folks who believe that a brownish beige color looks good on walls. I am not one of those people. I prefer livelier colors. I want to feel more invigorated when I’m in a room, and brown hues have the opposite effect; the drabness seems to suck the energy from me.

This beige color, over-excitedly painted in spots on the baseboards and ceiling, was what I had been looking at, day in and day out, in my current office/bedroom. (Soon, this room will only serve as my office, and maybe a place for guests, when I take over the rest of the apartment and can have a dedicated bedroom.) I hated the color.

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Grabbing takeout and eating dinner at a friend’s.

In the past few months, I’ve ordered takeout a number of times. Even though I enjoy cooking, some days it’s the last thing I want to do. With COVID still raging on, I don’t feel comfortable dining inside. My go-to for to-go food has been Dunedin Vegan Deli, my city’s first (and only, so far) 100% vegan restaurant. But, these meals were just for me, and my memory has a second requirement: I’d have to eat dinner at a friend’s place.

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Getting new bathroom towels and a shower curtain.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in turning the page to this new chapter of my life, is that it helps to claim ownership of things. This is true of my new cookware, my new wireless earbuds, and my health. Discovering my decorating style and claiming the bathroom space as my own – marking my territory, if you will – served the same purpose.

Revamping the bathroom was one of the first projects I took on after creating my Memory List. I knew I was going to enjoy the new towels and a fresh coat of paint, but I had no idea how amazing it was going to feel.

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Cooking with new pots and pans.

It’s been almost 3 months to the day that I moved into my new place, but I certainly haven’t waited this long to cook for myself. One of the first online orders I placed was for new cookware.

Cooking is therapeutic for me. Not only is it a mindful experience, but I also put a lot of loving energy into the food that I prepare. And since I’m now frequently the only recipient of these dishes, the love I put into the meal comes back to me, nourishing both my belly and my soul.

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