the 20 best days of my 20s

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I'm turning 30 this weekend, so I thought I'd put together a little retrospective of the past 10 years. You know the line in Groundhog Day when Phil says “That was a pretty good day. Why couldn't I get that day over, and over, and over...?” Well, these are those days for me… I’d relive each one of them again in a heartbeat. (Well, except the labor and delivery part. That hurt. A lot.) 1. Lazy day in the park, London, June 2002 Study abroad was without a doubt one of the best summers of my life, and this day was one of the things that made it so great. There wasn’t a whole lot of “study” in my study abroad program (sorry, Mom!) and we had a lot of time to hang out and live the sort of leisurely lifestyle I now dream about on a daily basis. On this particular day, we spent the whole day lounging on a blanket at the park across from our dorm, drinking Jacob’s Creek and listening to Kylie Minogue on Sarah N.’s portable radio. Nothing really special happened that day, but when I think back on that summer this day always stands out for me… great friends, cheap wine, baguette sandwiches, sunshine, and London. Perfection.

2. Last day in Edinburgh, July 2002 Most of our study abroad program was spent in London, except for the 2 weeks we stayed in Edinburgh. It was toward the end of the program, and we were all a little burned out on the good times. It was a rough life, I tell ya. Most everyone headed back to London after that last Friday of class, but Lindsey and I decided to stay a couple days longer and have a little BFF weekend. If I had to sum up the beauty of our friendship in one day it would be the Sunday of that weekend… we hadn’t showered in probably 3 days, and we spent the day bumming around Edinburgh, drinking wine in the park, speaking in our own language of nicknames and inside jokes, ordering one of everything off the appetizer menu at TGIFridays and charging it to Lindsey’s dad’s credit card (it was only for emergencies, which – come on - this totally was). It was the kind of day that you can really only have with a best friend and I loved every minute.

3. Kathryn’s wedding, May 2005 Few things in life make me happier than seeing good things happen for my sister, so her wedding day was a day of immense joy for me. I felt so proud to stand next to her as her Maid of Honor and see her marry a man who clearly adored her. Plus, the reception was a blast and I totally nailed my speech.

4. Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 2005 Okay, I know what you’re thinking… Renaissance Festival?? Lame! But you are wrong. Really really wrong. $2 beers, food on a stick, people in ridiculous costumes talking in pirate-speak… it’s better people watching than the airport AND an insanely good time. This was my first Ren Fest experience, and it was a blast. That day also happened to change the course of my life – it was the start of one of the defining relationships of my 20s and the stagnation of that relationship was a huge factor in my moving to Seattle – where I met Jared. So, thanks Ren Fest!

5. Bumbershoot, September 2006 I don’t even know how to begin to describe this one. Only Heather would appreciate the awesomeness that was that night, and it’s probably best not to attempt it.

6. Hanging with Lindsey and Sarah N., January 2007 If we ever had a chance at a redo of #1, this was it. Me, Lindsey, Sarah N., at Lindsey’s apartment in Flint… lots of wine and cheese and not a care in the world.

7. The night I accidentally kissed Jared, May 2007 Here’s the short version…. Jared, Sarah O., and I stayed up playing board games and Uno until 8 in the morning. There are few nights in my life I’ve laughed harder than we did that night. I fell asleep on the couch, Jared carried me to bed (such a gentleman), and I apparently kissed him. Jared and I were just very good friends prior to this night (well, good friends where one person knows that the other person has a huge crush on her and neither person ever acknowledges it), and that kiss made me realize that Jared was my Pacey (yes, I used those exact words) and the rest is history.

8. Sayonara Ipsos day, November 2007 This was one of those days that started out incredibly crappy (tears, yelling, the whole 9) but ended up being one of the most fun days of my life. The company we all worked for had some (rather BS) layoffs, and unfortunately both Sarah O. and Jared were part of the cuts. I made a *bit* of a scene at the office and was told it would probably be best if I went home early. We ended up at the Red Onion in Madison Park, where we all lived. The pitchers started flowing and after a few lackluster games of pool we decided to try our hand at the outdated touch screen machine. We promptly discovered that we rule at touch screen, and ended up perched in front of that thing for the next 5 hours. I can see how this story is sounding incredibly lame, so you’ll have to take my word for it… it was a blast. Team Todd 4ever.

9. Our engagement, January 2009 Jared really surprised me with this one… I’d been studying for the GRE all day when he asked me to come downstairs. As I’m going down the stairs, I hear our song playing and then see Jared standing there in a shirt and tie, holding the most beautiful ring I’d ever seen. There was a vase filled with 6 dozen roses on our kitchen table, rose petals all around us, and as I realized what was happening, all I could think to say was “you’re crazy.” I said “yes”, too, obviously… but it was overall not how I envisioned I’d react when he proposed. I hadn’t even showered yet! I looked so awful. But he didn’t care. And that’s reason #1,423 that I married him. He had a whole night planned… dinner at our favorite restaurant, a beautiful room at Hotel Monaco downtown. He has this amazing ability to be extremely romantic without ever being cheesy or over the top, and our engagement was no exception. I knew I wanted to marry him about a month after we got together, and that night even further solidified it for me. (One a side note: We also stopped by my friend Erin’s birthday party that night, where we waited hours to tell anyone we got engaged because I was afraid of stealing her thunder. She was thrilled for us… so thrilled in fact that she helped me end the night by singing Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid, in its entirety. That’s a good friend.)

10. My Bachelorette Party, August 2009 My best gals and I headed to Vail for my bachelorette party and it was everything we hoped it would be. Vail in the off season is a very random but fun place and the night of my party was perfect. No embarrassing games, no trashy accessories, just a fantastic night out on the town with 3 of my favorite people.

11. Our Wedding Day, September 2009 Happiest. Day. Ever. :-)

12. Last day in Sydney, September 2009 Jared and I went to Australia on our honeymoon, and had the trip of a lifetime. We spent the first half in Sydney, and the second half in Port Douglas (see # 13). Our last day in Sydney was ahhh-mazing. I’d been dying to see the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” starring the magnificent Cate Blanchett and we managed to get tickets to the sold out Wednesday matinee. It was incredible. Easily the best stage performance I’ve ever seen. Cate Blanchett was flawless as Blanche DuBois, and I felt so lucky to be able to see her in that role. After the show we headed back to our hotel (the Sydney Grand Quay Suites – I highly recommend it), took a nap, and got gussied up for what ended up being the most lavish, ridiculously tasty meal of our lives. We went to Quay, where the food was even more incredible than the views. We were at one of the best restaurants in the world so we decided to live it up. We went all out. And sitting at that table, with my husband, in that amazing city – I felt like royalty. And that’s how every girl should feel on her honeymoon.

13. Last day at Thala, October 2009 If I had to describe my perfect day, this would probably be it. During our stay in Port Douglas we were at the incredible Thala Resort – which I couldn’t recommend more. It was so private, so secluded… there were plenty of other people staying there but it never felt like it. After a jam-packed honeymoon we knew we wanted to do absolutely nothing on our last day in Australia. We slept in, ate a delicious breakfast, and camped out in lounge chairs on the private beach for the entire day – just reading, swimming, going for walks. It was truly perfect. When I had to imagine my “happy place” during my hypnobirthing exercises, this was it. Jared and I made a promise to each other on that day that we’d go back for our 10 year anniversary. Only 2870 more days to go.

14. Voicebox Karaoke, October 2009 You should be noticing a theme here… me + Jared + Sarah O. + beer = random ridiculousness. Sarah came down to visit after we got back from our honeymoon and after dinner we happened upon a private karaoke lounge. So we stopped in to see what it was all about. We booked a room for 9-10 and timidly started singing along. We were just getting warmed up by the time that first hour ended, so we had them extend it another hour. By the time 11pm rolled around they came in to see if we wanted to stay longer and Sarah asked, “What time do you close? 2? Yeah, we’ll be here til then.” We made complete fools of ourselves, and loved every minute of it. We woke up the next day hoarse and hungover, but still laughing. A good sign of an excellent time had by all.

15. Christmas Eve, December 2009 Christmas is a big deal in the Shellaway household, and Christmas Eve is probably my favorite day of the year. 2009 was our first Christmas as a married couple and we knew we wanted to carry over a few traditions from the Christmas before (a dinner of white bean Tuscan soup and meatloaf wellington, waiting all season to finally watch Christmas Vacation). But we also ended up having to close on our house that day (yay!) which took us out to Beaverton to a shopping center that happened to have an ice skating rink AND a bowling alley – so we did both! And a whole new tradition was born. We’re not particularly skilled at either skating or bowling, but we had a great time nonetheless.

16. Garth Brooks in Vegas, February 2010 My best friend from high school is Roy… if Jared is my Pacey, he is my Dawson. Except we never got together and never wanted to. Okay, so maybe I’m more like Jen and he’s my Jack. Except he’s not gay. Where was I? Right, high school… so Roy and I spent many car rides in our high school days blasting Garth Brooks loud enough to ensure we couldn’t hear ourselves singing (neither of us can carry a tune to save our lives). It’s one of my fondest memories from high school. Somewhere around this time Garth announced that he was stopping touring until 2010, when his kids would be off to college. Roy and I made a pact that when he went back on tour, no matter where we were living, we’d meet up and finally see him in concert. (If you’ve spent the past few sentences judging me for loving Garth Brooks, don’t hate. I love him, and I love his music, and the music snob in me feels no shame. So there.) Well, on a rainy fall day in 2009, Garth announced that he’d be doing a limited run of shows at the Wynn in Las Vegas. It was to be an acoustic show in a small theater… a far cry from his legendary stadium shows. Roy and I were like giddy school girls. We had to go. We were among the lucky fans who scored tickets before they sold out (in 5 hours!) and on February 27th me, Roy, his mom, my mom, his sister Lisa (who flew in from London), and Sarah O. finally saw Garth in concert. “That Summer” has always been mine and Roy’s favorite and I was determined to get him to play it. People were shouting out requests in between songs so all I had to do was shout the loudest and cross my fingers, and it worked! He played it!! It was such a fantastic moment. We’d been waiting 12 years for that day, and it was everything we’d hoped it would be and more. I’m not even being melodramatic. It was that good.

17. Meeting the Avett Brothers, August 2010 I already wrote about this day here, and it still ranks up there as one of the best days of my life.

18. Last day in Maui, September 2010 It was hard deciding which day in Maui was my favorite since the whole trip was incredible, but I'm pretty sure Day 9 had to be the best. Sea turtles, kayaking, swimming, an amazing dinner. We always seem to do it up right on the last day of vacation.

19. Finding out I was pregnant, October 2010 Oh what a great night. It had been a long day at work, and I was only 1 day late so I figured the test would be negative, just like all the others had been. I always convinced myself they'd be negative because I didn't want to get my hopes up. So imagine my surprise when both lines turned pink! I was filled with a million emotions all at once. I ran downstairs, and with tears in my eyes told Jared that we were going to have a baby. It was a wonderful moment and one I'll treasure forever.

20. The day Emma was born, June 2011 This is the day - this is the moment - that puts all others into perspective. There was no greater challenge, and no greater joy. My cup runneth over that day, and every day since.