Another semester is ending, so yeah, I’m probably feeling extra sentimental. Students have been dropping in to check in as the year wraps up. Some are sharing exciting news–they’re graduating this weekend, going onto grad school, starting new jobs, taking a break from the studying to go on much-needed vacations. Others are facing uncertainty–grades aren’t where they need to be, financial aid is in jeopardy, family issues are making things complicated. I love that they feel comfortable coming in to my office, sharing their news, asking for advice, just wanting to touch base one more time before they scatter for the summer.
You know, when I look back on the whole of my own college days, it was the best time of my life.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. My life is pretty great now. I’ve got an awesome husband, two fantastic kiddos, a sweet hound dog, a loving family, an incredible group of friends, and a job that I absolutely love going to every day. But not one bit of this would be possible without the time I spent in college, without the connections I made, the lessons I learned, and the foundation I built there.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. I soared higher than I ever thought possible. And I crashed, burned, tried to get up, stumbled, fell back down, and had pick up the pieces and build something brand new there too.
And you know what? It was all worth it. Every. Beautiful. Painful. Moment.
And the best part of it is that it led me here, to this place, where I get to spend my days working with college students, helping them navigate this crazy transition, helping them begin to understand that our mistakes don’t define us–they give us perspective. I get to help them learn that failure is not a dirty word as long as you own it and learn from it and use it to make better choices tomorrow. I get to be the person I needed (the person I found) when I was young and scared and confused and looking for someone to walk with me on my journey.
So don’t be afraid of the wreckage. It’s an important part of the story too.
Twelve years and one day ago, everything I owned had been thrown in boxes to save it from the rainwater that flooded my Yonkers apartment. My waterlogged furniture had been hauled out to the curb for the garbage men to collect. And Stevie and I drove out to Long Island for our own private wedding in Pastor Schenkel’s office, before heading to the Candlelight Inn to celebrate with hot wings and beer.
In some ways, that chaos seems to have set the tone for our lives together. I can’t say there’s ever been a dull moment since. Ups. Downs. Twists. Turns. Moments when all we could really do was just hold onto each other and wait for the hits to stop coming (life has a way of throwing some real sucker punches, you know). And in the midst of it all, there have been a whole lot of really beautiful moments too.
And you know what? I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Twelve years and a day of marriage, and this August we’re coming up on 21 years since we first met. I tell ya, it’s getting harder and harder to remember what my life was like without Stevie Romano in it. And I think that’s pretty awesome.
So, if Stevie and I were going to sit down and make a list of the things we miss the most about New York, we’d start with our friends and family and then quickly descend into a loooooooong list of food–NY-style pizza, zuppa de pesce (specifically from Mamma Lombardi’s on Long Island), steaming plates of hot wings from the Candlelight Inn on Central Park Avenue in Scarsdale, Italian Ice (the real stuff from The Ice House in West Sayville, not that overly-sugary fake bullshit they sell at chain stores like Rita’s), giant deli sandwiches, fresh egg bagels.
It’s the reason why any trip we plan to New York always starts with several lengthy and detailed discussions about where we’re going to eat and when, so we can be sure to hit all of our favorite haunts and get our fill of our favorite foods before leave.
And even though we’re still months away from our trip out East, you know we’re already plotting. And the other night I went down a rabbit hole when I started finding NY bakeries and delis that ship products overnight and guarantee a little “taste of New York” right in your own home.
Yeah, you know we had to try it.
So we ordered a dozen egg bagels from New Yorker Bagels, a shop promising fresh, hand-rolled authentic egg bagels delivered to our doorstep. Stevie was just a little excited when the FedEx guy dropped the box at our door.
The New Yorker bagels were pretty good, but they still can’t beat the fresh egg bagels from B&B Bagels in Bohemia that Richie used to go and pick up for us every morning when we would visit. I mean, we’re not complaining, but we’re still shopping around and doing some taste testing.
And at least we know we can count on Stevie’s sister Michele to send us a care package of fresh egg bagels every Christmas. If we could just find a way to make them last more than 3 days. 🙂
I know I’ve written at length about my love of theatre before, so I won’t spend too much time rehashing it again. Just know that when I say I’m obsessed with live theatre, I’m not exaggerating, particularly musicals. I’m mesmerized by the talent of the actors and musicians, and absolutely astounded by the sets and lighting and costumes that make the productions come to life. If I had unlimited funds, I’d buy a seat at a different show every night–Broadway, Off-Broadway, community playhouses–I’m in for it all.
When I first saw ads and TV spots for the new show Come From Away, I knew I needed to see it. I’m always drawn to stories of the “helpers”–the people who show up in the face of loss and tragedy to help recover and rebuild. If you’ve looked at any of my social media feeds in the last two weeks, you’ll see the dozens of stories I’ve been posting of exactly this type of selfless compassion taking place right here in my home state in the wake of the devastating Midwest floods.
But even more than that, it’s the story of Beverley Bass, the first female captain of an American Airlines aircraft–a woman whose persistence and tenacity helped break down barriers, a woman whose dream of flying led her to the sky. And with a long line of strong women in my own family (including my Grandma Kay who was one of the first females to fly for US Airways), this was a story that spoke to me on a very personal level.
Mom got us tickets and we headed to the Orpheum this afternoon for the show.
And I gotta say, folks…I might have a new favorite show.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not an overly-emotional person. I tend to let a lot of things roll off, and it’s not often that my emotions really get the best of me. But every now and then, something that hits really close to home will choke me up, and there were several moments during Come From Away that I found myself tearing up and taking deep breaths to keep it under control. Anything 9/11 related always hits me hard, and in the opening moments of the show when they sing about remembering exactly where they were when the news broke. Yep, that got me. Then later when the beautiful souls in Gander, Newfoundland began to open their lives and their doors and their homes to the airplanes full of strangers without a second thought or a moment’s hesitation. Yeah, you know that got me too.
It just seemed fitting (one of those moments when the universe perfectly aligns) that I was watching this show today while this same sort of selfless compassion is happening all around me right here in Nebraska in the wake of the devastating floods just as it happened in the hours and days and months that followed the attacks in 2001.
And it’s moments like these that make me really happy to be alive and be a member of this human race.
If you believe everything you see on TV, you might have a pretty grim view of humanity. But if you can tear yourself away from the 24-hour news cycle and get a glimpse of the things that are happening right outside your front door and in communities around the world (you know, the every day sort of things most people aren’t going to bother to mention on the nightly news because it doesn’t have a flashy headline) you just might see that most of us are just regular people trying to do our best and squeeze a little happiness out of this life while we’re here.
And what a blessing to have a chance to love and connect with others at the same time.
If you get a chance to see Come From Away, DO IT!! And in the meantime, be kind to each other every chance you get.
P.S. The amazing folks from the show (including several Nebraska & Iowa natives) donated a portion of the ticket sales totaling more than $30,000 to flood relief. And many of us in attendance donated even more to the collection buckets on our way out the door. What a great way to spend the day!