Do you write a gratitude journal? Memories of senior prom and heartbreaks, among other things

Senior year of high school.  March some-teenth.  Days before the prom, my first love broke my heart.  He was thin and awkward, a bit of a show-off who spoke with an accent and gave me Romeo and Juliet for my birthday because he knew I liked English class best.  I overlooked that — and other things — because he made my heart race with the excitement of being loved in a different, more grown-up way.  But then, for a reason I didn’t understand at the time, it was over — just before prom (something that had never meant anything to me before I met him).

I went to the dance anyway.  With a date, no less.  I wore the pair of earrings he had given me for Valentine’s Day and smiled extra-wide in all the pictures, just in case he happened to see any of them.

And then, the week after prom I wrote a thank you note that he never read in my gratitude journal.

It was a seemingly silly practice imposed on me (and my classmates) at our all-girls high school.  We were to keep a journal all year and each entry had to include three things we were thankful for.  I began the year with writer’s block, scribbling the names of family members to fill the lines.  By the end, however, I’d gotten more creative.  An actual entry, for example:

— Tests taken and worries gone
— The confidence to speak out about what I believe
— Statistics class, which gets me out of taking Calculus

Yes, I even found a way to be grateful for Statistics, which — after Chemistry — was my least favorite subject.

So, it’s not too surprising (is it?) that I was able to write with gratitude and not bitterness about my first love gone bad.  On Tuesday, March 14 I wrote, “I am thankful for my resilience.”  On March 20 I was more direct: “Thank you that my heart breaks because I love.”

How dramatic and important are these high school loves!

All this to say that I think it’s time I pick up my gratitude journal again.

Here I am, overwhelmed with the possible twists and turns of life, troubled by the economy (and nearly every headline, for that matter) and wondering about jobs and countries and just what I am supposed to do with this life I know is such a gift.

And yet, at the end of my senior year when my first boyfriend told me he wouldn’t be going to prom with me, I managed to scrounge up the courage to write that at least the pain in my heart meant I loved with everything I had.

Call it looking on the bright side, but I’m not sure I’d have done it if it hadn’t been for this silly, imposed habit of looking for the good in all things.

Since I just came back from a wonderful vacation — and am still feeling a bit topsy-turvy nonetheless — here’s a little gratitude poem for someone who kept the trip chock full of things to be thankful for.

Do you know that the smell of a white tuberose
Will always make me think of you?
As will farmers’ markets and chocolate eclairs,
Especially if I have to pay two dollars for one
(To support a young baker with an underground cafe.)

The taste of crystallized ginger will bring to mind
Granola, which makes me think of
Vanilla yogurt, soft blueberries, a fourth of a banana,
And homemade cappuccinos,
The microwaved milk turned to foam with a wand.

When I separate eggs I remember the way
You taught me before I knew
Why one would separate white from yolk.
The way you tap the container of your secret ingredient
Just so.

The scent of horse sweat and western sand:
A foreign enough combination that when it fills my nostrils
I can’t help but see Junebug and Chiave,
Bucky, Hurde, Haviland, and now Ravi –
The other horses of my childhood, though faraway.

And oh, the dog!
If ever a dog sits beside me in the backseat
And barks in my ear, I’ll think of Cody,
With his small ears and small paws
And a character that demands attention.

Bestamore’s Lemonade – will you save some for me?
Spun honey, French cheese, Foxen wine.
The Greyhound à la Jimmy and TJ’s Carmenère.
Picking tomatoes, roasting beets, going too heavy on
The coconut for our warm (and crunchy) kale salad.

Baking bread – the smell of yeast
And homemade blackberry jam.
Animal theme songs to the tune of Christmas carols,
Dressing up cowgirl style and
Slow, slow, quick-quick slow; Slow, quick-quick, slow.

Do you know that the smell of a white tuberose
Will always make me think of you?
This, and about a thousand other things
That can’t be counted or measured
But mean so much to the little girl
who has always called you “Auntie Linds.”


Filed under Food, Gratitude, Inspiration, Laugh it off, No Excuses, Unconventional Wisdom

5 responses to “Do you write a gratitude journal? Memories of senior prom and heartbreaks, among other things

  1. You are just so poetic. ^.^

    (I also had issues with Chemistry. That seems to be a persistent trait with writers: we suck at math.)

  2. Moma Sandy

    Wow Emily ~ so fun to see my frenchie in western attire. 🙂 Glad you and your aunt had a fun journey together! She will treasure this post with your poem of her. As always, you are amazing!

  3. you were always a wise soul! you might like this site..

  4. What a lovely tribute to your lovely aunt! I hope she has seen this!

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