Personal Stuff

How Having Cancer Changed My Bucket List: On Mortality, Travel, and Friendship

Bloggers love to throw around the term ‘travel bucket list’. I’m certain I’ve written my own bucket list post at some point (oh–yep–here it is). But let me tell you–when you actually almost die? Your list changes.

Before I found out that I was sick and needed scary surgery, I wanted to go to all of the places and see all of the things. Now that I’m (allegedly) better…I still want to go to all of the places and see all of the things. But the places have changed, and the things have changed. More specifically, the things I want to see? They aren’t things anymore. They are people.

If I were to write a travel bucket list today, it would look something like this:

My New Travel Goals

  • Take my friend Kristin to New Orleans, because she’s awesome and I love her and also she’s never been to New Orleans and that’s just silly. She’d love it there.
  • Return to the Bay Area over and over again to visit my friends Karen and Tom and my friend Nia and her husband and beautiful little girl. Ideally combining all of them together in some kind of epic wine-drinking and/or forest hiking trip.
  • Finally visit my friend Steph, who was once my next door neighbor but has lived on the gulf coast of Florida since before I care to mention (because it makes me feel old). Do something involving manatees.
  • Drive to Vermont to hang out with fellow travel blogger and all around fantastic lady, Gray. Also, I’ve heard there’s beer in Vermont.
  • Fly my mom to Tokyo to see Tokyo Disney and DisneySea.
  • Return to Tallahassee (where I just visited for one short night the other day) and introduce my husband to Harry of Harry Smith Outdoors and his wife Melissa and make him go kayaking. And by ‘him’ I mean ‘my husband’. Because that shit would be hysterical.
  • Make my friend Kelsey take me to Jackson Hole. Seriously, Kelsey. This needs to happen.
  • Visit Denver and hang out with my cousin Rich–whom I’ve spent very little time with as an adult–and his girlfriend and adorable dog, while also getting together with my elementary school friend Lori, who is even more amazing in adulthood than she was in childhood. And she was pretty cool kid. Also, I know there’s beer in Denver.
  • Travel ANYWHERE with my friends Shannon and Chris. Ideally somewhere all-inclusive, because that bar tab would be epic.

I could go on. But you get the idea, right? I want to go to places to visit people or go to places with people. It’s really all about the people. I don’t even really care that much about the places. Which brings me to my next point…

A Surprising Announcement

I’m going back to Paris.

Do you remember me in Paris? I visited Paris for two weeks in 2010. Here’s what 2010 me had to say about Paris:

In my first From Paris Without Love post, Bienvenue a Paris…?, I use the phrases ‘burst into tears’ and ‘own personal hell’ within the first two paragraphs. So, you know–it started out well.

The next day, I recount my first visit to Notre Dame. This is the first time I use the word ‘hate’ in conjunction with the word ‘Paris’. It was not the last time.

Thankfully I had a better day the next day, but my joy was short-lived. Whilst I dutifully attempted to document our trip in all of its hellish glory, I began to attract trolls. And then I wrote this, which was the first time I used the word ‘fuck’ in a blog post. It was not the last time.

I could go on. But you get the idea, right? I fucking hate Paris. But I’m going back. Because….

The Bravest Woman I Know

best woman I know

This woman–pictured here with me in Epcot’s France pavilion last week–invited me to go to Paris with her. And I love this woman. So I’m going to Paris. To be fair, this woman–who we shall call Heather because that’s her name–knows all about my hatred of Paris. My own mother tried to convince her to not invite me. But invite me she did–which is how she has earned the title of the bravest woman I know. My own husband is like: good luck with that, Heather.

But wait! It’s not going to suck this time, I swear. Here’s why:

I’m not going to Paris to see the Louvre, or the Eiffel Tower, or the Luxemborg Gardens or the Cluny or the Orsay or the Pompidou or Notre Dame or any of the other two dozen things I ‘saw’ when I visited in 2010. I’m going to see Heather.


Our trip is exactly one month and one day away. I can’t wait. 

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