I was t he flrst of 30 cousins on my mother's side of the family, a readymade extrovert . From the time I was a preschooler until I left home for college, I was the ” big sister,‘ often taking care of babies in my own house and in the lake houses of my uncles and their families.
Born to an Italian mother and a Lebanese father, I was full of family,
delicious food, and boisterous conversation as a child. No demure ladies' teas for me. My parent s loved and nurtured my siblings and me, though
my father gave me strange half-encouragement about spreading my
wings: ” You can be anything you want to be . . . as long as you get
married and have children, as all real women should.‘ I did want children
but didn't want to be stuck in the Midwest forever.
A good writer, voracious reader, decent pianist , accomplished swimmer, I
was never much for strenuous out door activities. I was a bit of a klutz, so
running and hiking were not activities to which I was drawn. I loved horses
but never achieved my dream of riding to school on my own glossy, black
Tennessee Walker. A good Catholic girl, I got married right out of college,
exactly as I was expected to do. I had never thought too far into my
future past the college degree, marriage, children.
Surprising myself began when I moved t o Denver in1969 with my
psychology degree, accompanying my first husband, fresh out of law
school. Then to Fort Collins in early 1974 with a future second husband,
father of my children, to open a retail record store, then three, and finally
a chain of eight .
During my 46 years in Colorado, I have taught childbirth education and
completed t wo master's degrees but couldn't seem to stay married.
When my second marriage ended in divorce nearly 30 years ago, I was
content t o be a single parent . I began walking to manage stress. Nothing
strenuous. Just step by step.
However, in 1988 I met a wonderful man, a big surprise, and settled into
a surprising, loving life with him, teaching, writing, caring for my three
children, two cats, and four golden retrievers.
In August 2013, I began the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile walk from
the French Pyrenees to the western Spanish coast , with a backpack and a
pair of hiking sticks. Solo. Me, the hiking-avoidant extrovert. My friends
and my partner were stunned. ” You?‘ they said? ” You?‘
” Yes, me,‘ answered my own astonished self.
I want ed six weeks of solitude in an unfamiliar place, and I got it .
As is my habit , I began writing about my thoughts and preparations
months before I departed. Captured it on a website for any interest ed
people to see. This year I will walk 500 miles again, on another path but
still following the Camino to Santiago de Compostela. It seems he older I
get, the better my life becomes. Now that's a surprise.