I’ve always been ridiculously good at getting other people to drink during Never Have I Ever. I had somehow missed out on so many typical life experiences that it basically became a party trick.
Approaching my 25th birthday, I decided to try to right some of those wrongs by creating a bucket list of 25 things to do before I hit that milestone. I celebrated my last birthday with any real benefits (hello cheaper car insurance and rentals) on November 7 of this year. Though I didn’t make it all the way through the list (some of them are still works in progress), it did push me out of my comfort zone and ensure that I would always have something new to try.
My list of accomplishments with their dates of completion are as follows:
25 things to do before I turn 25 (that a five-year-old has done)*
*Not all activities are suggested for a five-year-old. Not limited to items on this list (like live your life dude). Not the end of the world if this list doesn’t get 100 percent completed, but dammit if I’m not going to try.
1. Learn how to ride a bike/find out if you never forget
I know that as a kid, I at least sort of learned how to ride a bike. There are pictures of it. (Well, at least one picture exists where I look super happy on a training wheel-less bicycle where my dad is only sort of holding on to the seat.)
I can vaguely remember reaching the end of my block without training wheels. And then, nothing.
It’s almost as if I learned how to ride a bike and then officially closed the book on it forever. Did I get too big for that bike? Did I decide riding bikes was for jabronis? No one in my family seems to recall. Needless to say, it had been over 15 inexplicable years since I had been on a bicycle.
Living in a bike-crazed town like Boulder made it especially hard for me to keep this secret. It wasn’t all that weird that I didn’t own a bike, but whenever people would suggest riding bikes somewhere instead of walking or driving, I always made up some excuse. There was no way I was going to tell my college friends that I was an adult who was unsure if she could ride a bike.
After years of lies and avoidance, this summer I walked into a bike shop, looked in the salesman’s eyes and told him I didn’t know how to ride a bike. To my astonishment, he didn’t laugh or judge me. He gave me some starter advice, and I walked out with an expensive mountain bike. If I was going to do this, I was going to go all in.
As he suggested, I started out without the pedals on, just walking with my bike to get a feel for it. As scary as it was, I felt more and more comfortable coasting around the neighborhood. A few days later, I put my pedals on and took a proper bike ride. I was still a little wobbly, but was happy to report that I never fell down.
I went from trips around the block to rides to my friends’ houses to tackling the trails. I’m continuously getting better, but that single track at the Rim is still taunting me.
2. See the ocean & 4. Go to Hawaii 7/8/15
These were big ones. I’ve lived in a land-locked state my whole life. My beaches have always been the ones on the Arkansas River. Growing up in what I’ll call a less than well-to-do family, the only vacations my parents and I took were usually in-state or within the Four Corners region.
Everything about our trip to the Aloha State was monumental. It marked the first time my parents had been to Hawaii since before my birth. It was the first time my parents had been on a plane in almost as long (for my mom, it was her first flight since I was 18 months old; it’d been even longer for my dad). It was maybe even a bigger deal for me because not only was I going to see the ocean for the first time, but I was going to do so in Hawaii.
I got to swim in the ocean, see the places my dad grew up around, eat shave ice and tons of sushi and meet over 100 family members, some of whom for the first time, at our ‘ohana reunion. My dad said he hoped that I could see his birthplace as a second home, and I’m so glad that now I can.
6. Do something from great heights 5/11/15
This was by far the list’s biggest challenge. For quite some time, I’ve had a severe fear of falling. I’ve been totally cool with heights, just not the idea of getting down from them. In high school, I’d go on plenty of night hikes and climb on top of buildings, but when it came to jumping back down, I’d freeze up in fear.
Gliding on America’s highest zip line and flying face down over the Royal Gorge were major stepping stones in my drive to challenge myself and live a more full life. I tackled my biggest fear, so basically, I could do anything.
7. Watch the “Indiana Jones” movies (skip the one with Shia LaBeouf) completed 6/13/15
There are plenty of really famous, popular films that I’ve never seen. I didn’t watch “Pulp Fiction” or any of the “Jurassic Park” movies until I was in college, though I’m sure I lied about having seen those and many others. (Which didn’t even make sense with the former because until I watched it, I didn’t realize Bruce Willis was in it.)
I understood the cultural importance of “Indiana Jones” and the hotness of 80’s era Harrison Ford, so this felt like a natural fit on the list.
Watching the original trilogy was not an easy task. When I began my voyage, my boyfriend at the time said his parents owned the complete set on DVD, but once we borrowed it, we found only the first film. I went to my local video store (these, too, still exist) to rent the final two, where I found all but the third. After a months’ long expedition, I borrowed the third film from another friend’s collection. It was like nothing I’ve ever gone after before.
11. Race in the Bolder Boulder 5/25/15
When I first moved back to Cañon City in August 2014, I couldn’t run a straight quarter mile, but I was determined to become a runner. After plenty of huffing and puffing, I kept adding miles, completing my first 5K in early May 2015. On Memorial Day, I ran the Bolder Boulder 10K. It’s one of the biggest and best races in America for a reason, and was the most fun I have ever had running. Though I’m still not very fast, I ran the entire 6.2 miles and set a personal record. I can’t wait for this to become a yearly tradition. (And for the record, the wetness on my gear is from a water gun. I’m not that sweaty.)
13. Go to Casa Bonita, find out if food really is terrible 9/28/15
Casa Bonita is one of those mythical monuments of Colorado. Everyone knows that it’s about the experience, not so much about the food. That’s probably the main reason why I never went.
But I just had to go! Cliff divers, Black Bart’s Cave, all kinds of stuff!
After some prodding, I convinced my friend to come with me. A few logistics about Casa Bonita: it’s in a strip mall; entering it is basically like walking through a maze; navigating through it is also like a maze.
It was worth it, mediocre food and all. The fact that it was already decorated for Halloween made it that much better.
14. Watch a movie at a drive-in theater (they still exist, right?) 10/11/15
It’s almost heartbreaking that these are a dying breed. There’s just something about watching films on a giant screen from the comfort of a motor vehicle. It was especially cool to share this experience with my mom, and hear her stories of drive-ins past. Oh, and one of the great perks was seeing two movies for the price of one at a typical multiplex.
15. Eat a PB&J sandwich (at least give it a try) 2/13/15
There’s no real excuse for this. All I can say is our parents’ food habits usually dictate our own. My mom doesn’t eat peanut butter, and my dad is somewhat of a PB purist. I was far from a picky eater growing up, but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were literally never something that came across my plate.
It tasted just like peanut butter and jelly on bread (obviously), so I couldn’t really understand the mass appeal.
18. Go to a young alumni event 10/17/15
I don’t know that I’ll ever love anything more than I love the University of Colorado. My three years as a student there were some of the most exciting and formative of my young life. After graduation, I spent two more years working there.
Going back for homecoming was really special. I hadn’t been to a Buffs’ game as a fan in years. I got to be with my fellow Buffaloes, sing the fight song, legally drink beer on campus (!) and watch my squad (lose, naturally). A piece of my heart will always live in Folsom Field, and it felt so good to be home.
19. Eat chicken and waffles 8/14
Simple. I love chicken. I love waffles. Why had I never combined them before? The ones at FATE Brewing Company were admittedly pretty fancy, but it opened my eyes to a new, delicious cuisine combination.
20. Go to a music festival 7/19/14
As with movies, there’s something truly amazing about enjoying music in the open air. I spent the day soaking in the sun, drinking overpriced -A-Ritas, -o-Ritas and -Ber-Ritas with some of my closest friends while blazing out to the likes of MS MR and Walk the Moon. I can’t really think of anything much better (other than cheaper and better tasting drinks). See you in 2016, Big Gig.
24. Fly a kite 8/27/15
This had to have almost happened at least a few times. I’m honestly not even sure how someone gets to my age without successfully flying a kite.
This is also one of the cheapest things I accomplished on the list. We added the $2 shark/jet-shaped kite to our grocery cart and were on our way. A perfectly windy day, an open dirt parking lot (a helicopter pad only sort of counts as a nearby airport, right?) and two helpful accomplices combined for a pretty much perfect first-ever kite flying experience.
25. Take a picture with Chip the Buffalo 5/25/15
I’ve had a long-standing love affair with CU’s costumed mascot. So much so that I wrote him three love letters. Yet somehow, I’d never built up the courage to take a picture with him.
At about the third mile marker of the Bolder Boulder, I saw him. I couldn’t resist. I had to catch him, and we had to take a selfie. My time took a bit of a hit, but I had finally captured a moment in a our romance for the ages.
My first quarter century is in the books, and I can’t wait to keep crossing new adventures off my list, and then some.