I’d love to say we read to Maya every single night before bed, but we do read all the time — just not always right before bed. Anyway, we always let her pick which books she wants to read and the other night she surprised me by choosing one we’d never read: Dr. Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite books.
It was a copy my mom had given me minutes before I boarded the plane for my semester in Buenos Aires my junior year of college (July 1999). As I opened the book and saw my mom’s beautiful handwriting on the inside cover, I couldn’t help but smile — I hadn’t looked at those words in a decade or more.
That semester, in addition to living on the other side of the globe with a host family, taking classes in Spanish, making lots of new friends (and developing lots of crushes!), traveling throughout South America, dancing til 5 AM, eating and drinking my way through one of the most amazing and cosmopolitan cities in the world (and gaining probably 15 pounds in the process ;)) … I fulfilled one of my personal life-long dreams: to travel to Machu Picchu.
Next to getting married and becoming a mom, my semester abroad has been my “defining” life moment. I grew up so much that semester and my confidence really skyrocketed (no surprise, then, I met Luis not long after! Hmmm … !). I came back to American that spring with a totally different outlook on everything in life (and fortunately for me, my best friend–who’d been studying in London–had experienced something similar; we shared it even being on opposite sides of the globe).
Looking at my mom’s words now, as a mother myself, I “get it.” Sure, Maya’s only about to turn two, but I “get” what she means, about how her joys are my joys and her hurts are my hurts. It’s indescribable. I hope to look back on her words over and over and, someday, share them with sweet Maya.
Here is the letter:
(click to enlarge and read)