For the first quarter of the year, I kept a gratitude journal. I loved it, as it helped remind me of all the blessings (big and small) of each day. Then I filled said journal, and stopped keeping track on paper. While I still repeated at least three before going to sleep, I was certainly half-assing it.
One day I was laying in bed and though about this one memory from when I was a child. We were sitting in an enormous backlog of traffic en route to some family vacation destination (likely South Carolina). I looked up from the side window in the backseat and looked out the front windshield. We were sitting at the bottom of the hill. Straight front of us was a cascading hill of red lights. To the left, there was a long string of white lights.
I was taken aback, totally in awe of the hill of lights. It was absolutely beautiful, almost surreal. For a moment, I forgot it was traffic and simply thought we might be looking at a tower encased in Christmas lights. How could traffic be this beautiful?
As an adult, I'm well aware those red lights were brake lights and the white lights were headlights, but in the moment, it was breathtaking and surreal. I don't think I'll ever look at sitting in traffic quite the same, but it's stuck with me until this day as simply unbelievable how pretty traffic could be when I was a child.
That made me wonder, what other surreal moments truly took my breath away? I've collected a short list, scribbled across several nights as I recalled them:
*Disclaimer: Most of these are recent memories because 1. They're easier to remember and 2. Getting older has given me a deeper appreciation of special events.
My Incomplete List of Surreal Moments Throughout My Life
Sunset in Vico Equense: Number one on the list would be perhaps the dreamiest day of my life. We drove up and down the Almafi Coast, then snuck our way onto a private beach a short walk from our Airbnb. We sipped wine from boxes, took mermaid and whale pictures, then swam out to a boat, jumped off of it, swam into a cave and then beached ourselves just in time to watch the sun set on the water. That's a series of surreal events that I honestly wonder if I dreamed up or actually lived.
The right turn onto Las Vegas Boulevard: Admittedly, I didn't think Vegas was going to be 'for me.' I hate wearing high heels, I don't know how to put makeup on more than just eyeliner and mascara and I don't often go to clubs. But then we took that first turn onto the Boulevard and I was hooked. I've never felt more energized by a place in my entire life.
Going to a local dive bar with my siblings: I turned 21 away from home, and have probably spent not more than a month or two at home as a drinking adult. One of those days recently was after my brother also turned 21. We decided to go on a family bar crawl through our hometown. Our crawl took us to the divest, cheapest bar I've ever seen. It felt like we took a time machine back in time. It also felt like home, it felt safe and it felt enchanted. The rug was gross, the beer was cheap and the company felt aged with the place. It was magical.
Swimming in the ocean alone: On the day after I found out I got the job offer, I waded out into the ocean alone (total transparency: my friends were a few yards away napping, so not at the beach alone, just in the water alone). The waves were big, and I could feel the tide attempting to tug my body deeper into the water. I was having terrible anxiety, but the water seemed to pull it all away as it tugged. It felt freeing and cleansing.
All-of-one-kind-of-vehicle heading in the same direction: I remember years ago I saw a Mac truck pulling 2-3 other trucks. It was the background on my phone for awhile (total boy move), but it just seemed really humorously surreal to me. Then I saw a caravan of Army trucks moving in one direction, maybe 15-20 of them. It almost moved me to tears. Recently, I sawn about 30 electric vans heading down South after the hurricane and I almost cried again. Why? Because it's just really fantastic to see people mobilizing and uniting to help other people.
Sliding down next to a waterfall: In reality, all of Iceland was surreal, but the first time I felt it was day one when we went to see a huge waterfall. Just beyond the massive, half frozen waterfall, there was a smaller one. We climbed up next to it, and slide down the side of it like a slide. That's pretty unbelievable, and totally surreal.
Performing with my work band in Cardiff: Have you ever been in a moment and already known it was going to be unforgettable? This was that for me. From start to finish, this was a surreal event: I learned an instrument to win a free trip, it worked and then we took home third place. Then, at the after-party, our song came on (well, the real version of it) and the entire bar of our international co-workers broke out to belt it out with us.