What I Collect – by Liimu
Some people collect corkscrews. Others collect stamps or coins. I collect experiences.
Other people look at someone water skiing or running a marathon and say, “Why would anyone want to do that?” And I say, “Why not?”
When my husband and I went to Jamaica for our honeymoon, we were told that the Rick’s Café in Ocho Rios boasted a view of one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. The first thing I noticed, when we disembarked from our commuter boat from Negril to Ocho Rios was the people leaping off the infamous cliff outside Rick’s Café. I knew as soon as I saw those bodies leaping off the thirty-plus foot cliff that I wanted to do it, too. My husband of just a couple days rolled his eyes; he was already far too familiar with my thirst for excitement. Landing feet first was much harder than it sounded. I ended up with a huge bruise that took up my entire thigh. Worth it, though, I felt. I had yet another experience to add to my collection.
When I began running, I fully intended to run no more than a 10K. During that 10K, I connected and became friends with another woman. We began to run together, trained for Broad Street, and after running it decided we would run a marathon. In my mind, it was another experience to add to my collection. I didn’t care how hard it was, I was determined to do it.
Now, older and wiser, I try to make sure the experiences I collect aren’t life-threatening or even too physically taxing. With three young children and me rapidly approaching my 40th birthday (on May 22), I now have to think about more than just my own gratification. I have to make sure I have the energy and wherewithal to be not just a mom to them, but a present and engaged mom who actually has the energy to enjoy hanging out with them, helping them with their homework, pushing them on the swing, laughing at their jokes. And I now realize that many of the experiences I’m collecting are experiences I’m sharing with them.
Every March, the girls are off school for a week for Spring break. This year, I decided to plan a road trip. No boys, just me and the girls (and our teenage babysitter). We had SO much fun. I didn’t work, I didn’t obsess about working out, I didn’t even plan out our days from sunup to sundown. I let them call the shots and we had a great time. Here’s a picture of my three-year old trying beef jerky for the first time ever.
During this trip, my two youngest daughters swam for the first time (with water wings) all the way across the pool. They touched baby alligators, fed a bearded dragon and sat on a petrified alligator. We took a boat ride alongside real live dolphins as pelicans flew overhead. My older two daughters even got to drive the boat. .
These are the experiences I collect now. When I was a teenager and young adult, the experiences were all about partying, acting crazy – jumping to floor level at the Grateful Dead/Bob Dylan concert. Over the past few years, I have had personal experiences beyond my wildest dreams – diving off the cliff at Rick’s Café, running across the finish line of the Philadelphia Marathon, singing a solo live on NBC for 10 million fans while Patti Labelle directed from just 20 feet away.
Perhaps even more precious than these experiences are the ones I have shared with my children, petting alligators in South Carolina, hiking the mountains of Denver, watching my 7-year old win a hula hoop contest in Florida, driving down Christmas Tree Lane in California, and the hundreds of experiences we’ve shared right here in our home. I’m grateful I don’t need a cabinet in which to store all these amazing experiences. I would have long ago run out of room.