Twelve years ago a man I was halfway dating told me to write down fifty favorite things. When one is 25, one may halfway date a few people at the same time so I had to be a little selective with this assignment but I took it on anyway.
“Give yourself like five minutes,” he said. ‘Don’t think too much.”
I was a point in my life when I had the time and inclination to do such things so I scrawled out fifty things in fine-tip Sharpie on a legal pad. It didn’t take long and he was right to tell me not to think too much. Even then, I had that problem.
I found that list not too long ago while cleaning out a stack of papers I’d kept from that time. It was a little eerie to read my fifty favorite things at 25 and how some are so very different at 37. But, still, a handful are still the same. My grandmother. Southern summer nights. Sleeping in. Drinking coffee on weekend mornings while reading in bed. Not that I ever do those last two things but I’d still put them in my top fifty today, even if it’s only the memory of having done them and the sweet possibility of doing them again that keeps them on the list.
If I were to write fifty favorite things today I think I would have seen a lot less of me on that list. I’m no longer a single woman finishing graduate school wondering whether I should move to Portland or Asheville or out in the country with friends. I no longer wonder what boy I’ll marry, if we’ll have babies or if ringlet curls will frame their tiny faces.
I never moved back to Asheville, and Portland still winks at me through a rainy haze. I married the right boy and our little girls are sleeping upstairs. I would have to dig deep to think of fifty things that are my favorites because I am so intertwined with my favorite people. I like Call Me Maybe because Lucille skips through the house chirping it all the time, I like dolphins because Eliza draws them and is so proud when she shows me her pictures. I like French press coffee with cream because, over the eleven years we’ve been together, that’s how Seth and I both have come to drink it. I suppose I could think of a few things that aren’t related to my family but I think they’d fall somewhere toward the end of the list. Typefaces. Deep orange flowers. Bacon. (Okay that’s a lie. Bacon would be number four.) But really the rest of my list would be classified as favorite in the context of Seth, Eliza and Lucille.
Maybe I should get a life? One of my own. But somewhere between 25 and 37, somewhere between Call Me Maybe and dolphins, I think I did that and today, I’m just thankful to be living it .