We all do it. We all have that list. You know what list I’m talking about - your bucket list. What would you do if you were given a time frame when you were gonna die? What things would you want to accomplish or experience before you slipped the surly bonds of this realm? Would you go skydiving? Would you want to go for a ride on a submarine? Climb Mount Everest maybe?
From an age I can barely remember, the list, my list, of things I wanted to do has grown, morphed, been trimmed and grown some more. Over the years I have been fortunate to have checked off several items that I thought otherwise were pipe smoke dreams.
With the changes in my life in the past few years, my bucket list if you will, has taken on new meaning. Some of things I use to find I wanted to accomplish have gone by the way side, many more have come to the forefront of importance. I never took much stock in writing down my goals and dreams, I always thought that if only I knew my dreams, there wouldn’t be as much disappointment if they didn't come true.
But the strange thing is, in many of the down times in my life, it was the goals I had set for myself that kept me going. Whether they were big or small, those goals, those dreams have been a part of what has kept me alive.
So as I sat at my computer I thought “why not put them out there”. Something I can look at in those darker times and have something to hold on to and maybe inspire you to do the same. I have gone one step further. I haven’t removed the items I have accomplished. I keep them there as a reminder that dreams DO come true. So here it goes.
#1 - Live as I was intended – as a woman = DONE(sort of). This one gets a ¾ check. Why you may ask? That last quarter of a check is waiting until I have the surgery to correct what nature got wrong. Many trans women are very happy to stop where I am right now. But I am not. Though I am living a life I always thought would be impossible and often think that I will wake up from this dream and still be trapped in the life I use to have, I will not feel 100% physically complete until I have the needed surgery. Sometimes even thinking about the surgery starts to feel like the wind, something that is there, but something I will never be able to touch.
#2 – Visit the Mountain Gorillas. Ever since I was a kid, gorillas have had a special place in my heart. The first time I saw Diane Fosse on television, I wanted to meet her. . . oh hell, I wanted to BE her. I wanted to work with the gorillas in their natural environment. If I were to die out there in the jungle, being ripped apart by a huge silverback, I would die a very happy woman.
My love for these creatures has never waned even though they are so far away. My experience with a couple lowland gorillas has fueled my desire to see their mountain cousins for myself. You can’t even go to a zoo and see these beautiful animals. Every gorilla you see in any zoo in the world is a lowland gorilla. To see a mountain gorilla, you have to go to Africa and some pretty dangerous parts of the continent. One day I keep telling myself. On day I will cast my eyes on a mountain gorilla and probably be crying the whole time.
The following are in no particular order of importance.
#3 - Learn to Fly. The first chance I got to fly in a small aircraft was about 20 years ago. I was traveling to Starved Rock with a friend when we saw the sign on the side of the road by a small private airport. Plane rides $10. My friend had only flown once and it was in a jumbo jet so I persuaded her to go with me. It was a Cessna single engine aircraft. We took off from a grass runway and as I watched the pilot work the controls, as we flew over LaSalle County I was hooked. The only thing really keeping me from accomplishing this goal is money . . . . and someone to teach me.
#4 – Be a Fire Fighter/Paramedic = DONE! One of my earliest memories is my mom and our neighbor walking me down to where several fire engines and trucks had responded to a house fire in our neighborhood. I don’t remember much other than the smell of the smoke and the sight of the big red trucks – I was in Love! Some kids love trains. Some kids love construction equipment. Me? I loved the big red engines and trucks. Growing up in the era of Emergency! was all it took for me to want to be a fire fighter. I got my wish when I tried out for and was hired as a Paid-on-Call Fire Fighter for Bolingbrook, Illinois. I served my community for two years, worked several fires and finally fulfilled a dream I had had since I was two. I also worked as a paramedic for a private ambulance service, served as an assistant EMS instructor for St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin and provided on-site first aid for several concert events in Chicago. In that time I saw hundreds of patients and even count a few as saves.
#5 – Be the Voice of a Cartoon Character – Do I really need to go in to detail here – how cool would it be to do the voice of an animated character?
#6 – Take my kids and tour Scotland and England. On June 22nd, 1988, three days after I graduated from high school, I was on a plane to London’s Heathrow Airport with my brother and my parents. This was a trip I was not looking forward to at the time, but how I was so wrong. I have fond memories and remember that trip like it was yesterday. I have promised that before I die, I will take my kids to see the land of their ancestors. I was moved to see the graves of men and women that lived a harsh life in the lowlands of Scotland some 250 years ago. Walking the land of those family members is something I want my kids to experience.
#7 – Be Published. As a writer, this is always one of the pinnacles many of us reach for and dream of, our name in print, a lasting milestone for generations to come. Here at ChicagoNow, I’m surrounded by amazing and talented writers and authors like Nikki Knepper, Jimmy Greenfield, Carrie Goldman Segall just to name a VERY few, these are just the names I have on my shelf. (Books authored by ChicagoNow Bloggers is a great resources and gives you an idea of the great writers I have the pleasure to work with). I not only count these people as mentors but also have the privilege to count them as friends. How can one write, be surrounded by great authors and not want to reach for that brass ring?
#8 – Stand-Up Comedy = DONE! One of the coolest things ever! Growing up with a sarcastic wit, doing stand-up always appealed to me but was afraid to do it. Back in April I had the chance to perform on stage at the Laugh Factory here in Chicago. And when you’re done reading this post and only when you are done you can read my thoughts on the experience here.
#9 – Wear a bikini and look good doing it. Just once, I want to have the body to pull off looking good in a bikini. JUST ONCE. In some ways I regret that if I had transitioned earlier in life, I probably would have had the body to do it in my younger years. Now though, no way! This gut needs as much control under the bathing suit as I can possibly find.
And last but certainly not least
#10 – Be a Bride. I left this one for the end because I hesitated even putting it on the list. Part of me wants to put it up in the very first item, but I know that even If I never marry again, my life as a woman can be complete with out a partner. I also know that finding someone that can love a transgender person is a rare and special gift and those who have found that special someone - you are truly blessed. So right now I wait, wait on God for his answer on this one. But just as many others girls growing up, I dreamed of the white dress as a kid. I dreamed of the beautiful church. I want my best friends standing up for me and I want to walk down that aisle on my dad’s arm. I am a dreamer, but like my mom, I’m also a bit of a realist. I know not to dwell on something that may or may not be in my future. (but the dreamer in me, a little bit bigger than the realist, will still dream the impossible dream)
So there you have it – the top 10 things on my list of things to do before I die.
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