Every year before the high holidays I have a tradition. Together with discarding my sins and throwing them in the river, I clean my drawers, library and closets. This serves two purposes: getting rid of unused things as well as donating to the poor, both of which make me feel good. As an added benefit, I find treasures I haven&rsquot seen for a while. This is exactly what happened to me yesterday.
In my bedroom chest there is a drawer where I keep my most treasured items. Inside a velvet pouch there was a leather bound soft book and an envelope &ndash my travel journal, the best gift I’ve ever gotten.
Inside were entries from trips to South Africa’s Kruger National Park, where we saw female lions catch a wildebeest and feed the male first. I read my outraged comments on how the big daddy lion roughly pushed away the young ones until he was done and how the females only got leftovers. Then we howled with laughter when a large troop of baboons climbed on our car with the big daddy baboon smack in the center of the windshield, grooming his lady. Their little baby stared at us curiously, holding on to his mom. We saw elephants and rhinos as near as my TV set.
Then in another entry, I was in Jamaica with memories of romance and social commentary. In another one it was the oldest cemetery in the new world found in Barbados, catching flying fish and cooking them for dinner. In Santa Fe 14 years ago I celebrated Civil New Year by my kiva fire place in my mansion. My beautiful girl and I had this tradition of spending special days in sacred meditation and making resolutions, so we sat cross-legged on the rug by the fire and candle light. Next day we drove in my new Volkswagen Beetle to Sedona, Arizona and took turns reading out loud and driving. We finished the entire Greek and Roman mythology and Goethe’s "The Suffering of Young Werther". In Sedona we saw a rare sighting of a bald eagle.
Another entry described a trip to Key West with the kids in a rented convertible, diving, exploring and discovering the Keys. Then a trip to Hawaii in which we were told by other passengers that we were like a TV family because of how much fun we had together and called each other names of endearments.
My favorite entry is a bus trip to Eilat in which my daughter and I laughed so much we almost fell off our chairs. She turned to me and said: "can you believe that people laugh this much without any drugs, just a natural high?" That was the trip when in a cab ride to Taba, we stopped for a caravan. The Bedouin checked out the cab and with a greedy smile offered the taxi driver some camels "for the blonde girl". My tough girl threw a big scarf over me and announced firmly "NOT for sale". She commanded the driver to continue driving. When we finally could breathe, we cracked up and giggled about the incident.
There is an entry about going skiing in Liberty Mountain with a car-full of kids. We dried our soaked jeans on the heater in the hotel room, and were practically the only car that stayed on the road driving back. We got caught in such a blizzard that the highways were littered with sunken slipped cars. At least my driving made up for being the worst skier ever.
So many more stories and endless hours of pleasure. As opposed to photos, writing describes emotions, events that came and went too soon.
The envelope had cards, letters, some hardcopy photos and a ring with a heart on it. Such incredible happiness, all in a pouch.