Monday, October 29, 2012

The Opposite of Alone

I am that girl who wanted everyone and their mother with me during child birth. It didn't really turn out that way either time, nevertheless I remember thinking (while writhing in pain), 
"This should be a party!" 
You may think I am kidding, I am not.

It is no secret that, while living in Beijing, I have had more alone time than in my other life. Funny how that can happen in a city of 22 million people.  

I also have been pondering about what brings me true happiness. For many it is exotic locales, feeling recognition at work or enjoying recreational hobbies. While each of those are fun for me I've always wondered why they didn't make me giddy on the inside. 

It wasn't until I was validated by an NPR show that I listen to that I truly learned about what makes up my happiest moments. One of the talk show hosts was saying he really didn't care about going and seeing hundred year old cathedrals. When I have said things like that...usually about things like a very long wall...people scoff and scorn and I have felt shallow. The host, very confidently, stated that he would much prefer staying home with family and close friends.

Duh! It seems obvious that people enjoy being around family and friends. But for me, that is ALL that matters! I can't tell you how many times I've been to exciting places and just couldn't enjoy it because my favorite people were missing. I think that is why I blog and Facebook ALL THE TIME. It helps me feel like those that I miss are right there with me. 

But, until recently, it never really clicked. Looking back, yes, the memories I cherish the most did not require fancy clothes, airplane tickets, elaborate equipment, or even detailed planning. It just had fun people there. I am the type of person who enjoys meetings, as long as the right people are there. 

Below are just a few of my favorite memories...see if you can see any patterns.

Laying on my bed, in my teenage room, listening to music and talking about Duran Duran (among many other hotties) with my BFFs.

The many, many social gatherings my roommates and I hosted at our college apartments. 

Any, and every, phone conversation that I have had with my sisters.

My wedding reception

Camp Drake

When hubby surprised me and showed up at Disneyland unexpected.

Backyard meals, countless gin rummy games, cheering on the SF Giants and just a few Johnny's Donuts with my mom and dad.

I have been known to say that I am happiest when my home is filled to the rim with the people I love. Our going away party was one I will always cherish.

I could go on and on...but every single one of the memories that make my tummy tickle has special people, lots of talking and usually good food! Must be the Italian in me! 

I think this has a lot to do with why happiness has been a challenge for me while here in Beijing. I do not have as much opportunity to make these same types of memories. But when they do happen, with special people I've met here, they are that much greater! 

A perfect example...Giants win the 2012 World Series and I am all alone.
Kids at school, hubby (DODGER FAN) at work, internet barely working.
I felt so very far away from home and loved ones.
But I made the best of it and celebrated anyway.
The Chinese ayis cleaning my apartment thought I was nuts!

I look ahead to just seven and a half weeks (yea I am counting).
Sure we will be surrounded by palm trees, tropical breezes and virgin lava flows... but what I am most looking forward to is just being around some of my very favorite people and making more life-long memories with them!

This post is dedicated to each and every person I have ever had a heart to heart talk with, giggled with, or shared a meal with. 
It's you that makes me the happiest.


LaDeana Wilke said...

You are so wise. Thanks for sharing what makes you happy. I too love being with family and friends. The ideal for me is being with family and friends as we "visit cathedrals" and other fun places.

Leslie said...

Love you! Being with my family and friends is the best!