The End of a Great Decade

It didn't cross my mind that this year's New Year's celebration would take us into the next decade until I heard an NPR All Songs Considered show titled "Best Music of the Decade." Since then, I've been noticing loads of "Best ____ of the Decade" lists. Everyone wants to tell you the best movies, news stories, medical breakthroughs, heroes, and on and on.

I tend to think more about the future than the past, but I wanted to take a moment to share the most important moments of this, the most important decade of my life thus far. I was 14 when 2000 began, and I had just moved to Missouri. I wasn't too excited about being in Missouri. I had just begun to get settled in Vancouver, Washington when my parents informed me that we'd be moving to Missouri, a state I knew nothing about. Moving to Missouri turned out to be a great change in my young life. I met so many amazing people and had great opportunities I might not have had otherwise. Though it happened a few months before this decade, it is a very important part of the 2000's.

In the first three years of the decade, I had so many fun times at Liberty High School, but most importantly, I met two wonderful ladies who have been great friends ever since and accompanied me on so many adventures. I'm glad I know you, Lauren and Sam.

Not to discount my high school years, but attending college at Missouri State University was such a life-changing period for me. I know that just about everyone considers this part of their life important, so it's a bit cliche to go on about how university opened me up to so many different opinions, cultures, and people, but it did.

This decade is the decade when I became a vegetarian, and that has been very important to me. Besides making me feel healthier and happier, it has also opened up a whole world of food to me. Before becoming a vegetarian, my cooking skills consisted of opening up a box of Rice-a-Roni and adding butter and water. Since then, things have gotten considerably better, and I can now successfully conjure up a main dish, a side dish, and a salad relatively painlessly. (Though as Dustin would reveal, I usually skip the salad and the side dish and make a really scrumptious main dish, but I CAN make and HAVE made all three.) I even bake now, though I haven't yet mastered meringue. It is a project for the next decade.

In this decade, I have had the amazing opportunity to travel to Europe, twice! Both trips were so amazing and I saw so much, took way too many pictures, saw a slew of musicals, ate a crazy amount of pain au chocolat, and drank a few too many glasses of unbelievable French wine. I had the joy of studying Shakespeare and analyzing the songs of The Beatles in London. And I studied la langue française and French history in France. My professors on both programs encouraged me to begin writing, and it is completely because of them that I did. I caught the travel bug this decade and I don't plan on getting rid of it any time soon.

I've attempted (and not quite succeeded) to learn two new languages in the 2000's, French and Japanese. French was a bit easier to understand and remember than Japanese is proving to be. I've lost much of my French, but at my peak, I was speaking to my French parents about politics and the anatomy of a baguette. Compare that to the most recent conversation I had with some Japanese teenagers during which I got flustered and mistakenly told them I was 14. I've got a long way to go with my Japanese, but I hope that I have not yet reached my peak.

Most importantly, I met my future husband this decade. Nearly 3 years ago, Dustin and I were introduced to each other by my friend and his coworker, Sarah Scharfenberg. After a very fast romance, we moved into a nice little loft in downtown Springfield together, much to the (silent) dismay of our families and friends. Though few people said it, most of the reactions we got when telling people we'd be living together after a few short months of knowing each other was a look that said, "Whoa. That's waaaay too fast." Well, it turns out that our fast paced relationship has lasted the test of time and we're going to tie the knot. It is the first time that I've fallen in love, and that is undoubtedly the best thing about this decade.

And then, of course, we moved to Japan, which has been a grand adventure of its own. Once again, I moved to a strange new land, with a bit of trepidation, and turned out to love it. I doubt that I'll spend the next decade in Japan, but I'm glad I've come to experience this crazy country, and I'm willing to stick around for a while longer.

As with anyone's life, there has been the occasional disappointment and sadness over the past ten years, but this decade has been truly amazing. I've met some of the most important people in my life, and I hope that we will remain important to each other in the next decade. I've discovered some life long loves of my life: vegetarian food, traveling, writing, and Dustin.

Though it's been a great decade, I expect the next decade to be even more important than the last. There are a great many things I wish to do in the next decade:
-have my very own classroom
-continue to see the world
-continue my writing
-go back to France and finish learning French (hopefully with Brigitte)
-become a debt free citizen
-learn to sew and knit and make wearable garments
-have a house with a big garden
-be a mother (but probably in the latter part of the coming decade, so don't get too excited yet)

We'll see how the next decade turns out! Stay tuned.

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