13) Plantation Tour in Jamaica on Cruise with Lynne Bishop. It was a fun-tastic day with lots of culture, beauty, and laughter along the way.
12) Taking Kandy to IKEA for the first time! Epic fun with my fantabulous friend!
11) Mildred Haun Conference – first in-person conference since covid had hit in 2020 – right up until I had to leave to go home because I was sick and tested positive for covid, exactly one month before the 80’s Cruise.
10) Hindman Fall Retreat Weekend – gathering back at Hindman with friends after so many of us had been evacuated at the end of July from the Appalachian Writers Conference due to the devastating floods that tore through the region. Feeling that spirit of camaraderie and safety there together once again. Getting to work with Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle. Talking with Mandi Fugate Sheffel about her forthcoming memoir. Getting closer to my goal of 100 pages for my own memoir while I was there. Just hanging out with my Hindman Buddies.
9) Every encounter I got to have with Robert Gipe. He has a way of making me feel so much better about anything and everything, just by being his wonderful, unassuming self.
8) Beach trip with Becky Smith Rangel to Surfside Beach, SC. Just two tired and crazy ladies getting away on our own for a few days before the world crashed in again. We both prefer crashing waves on the beach, btw.
7) Watching football games at the hotel in Pigeon Forge when Russ and I did our abbreviated Fall getaway. Just sitting there in each other’s company with nowhere we had to be, nothing we had to do, commenting about teams we didn’t care about, with the AC on and the gas fireplace… It was so relaxing, and I wish we could have more times like that. Meeting up later for dinner at the Apple Barn with Tam and Zimm was great, too.
6) Winning first place in the Children’s Literature Award at the Tennessee Mountain Writers, Inc. Annual Conference in April in Oak Ridge, TN. Everything about the conference was wonderful, of course. Meeting new friends, cheering on old friends. Skipping a session so I could sit in on a virtual poetry session led by Denton Loving for another conference. (A poem from that being chosen later in the year for the Women of Appalachia Project’s Women Speak project.)
5) Summer Concerts 2022 ROCKED! Russ and I saw Tears for Fears in Charlotte in June; Misty and I saw the Stadium Tour (Joan Jett, Poison, Def Leppard, and Motley Crue) in Charlotte later in June; Becky and I saw the Mix Tape Tour (Rick Astley, Salt N Pepa, En Vogue, and New Kids on the Block), in Greenville, SC, in July; and Russ and I saw Keith Urban in Charlotte, NC, in August.
4) Going to Table Rock for the first time. Having Denton Loving as an instructor for the first time. Meeting so many amazing new friends, especially Sharon and Sharon, whose words and deeds have continued to touch my life in the months since we came home.
3) Riding the Sky Lift in Gatlinburg with Russ, then looking out over the beautiful area as Fall had begun coloring the leaves for a fresh new Fall. Walking across the Sky Bridge with him, then having dinner at The Peddlar, where we hadn’t eaten in years.
2) Staying in a Colonial Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg for our 20th Anniversary in early January. Walking across the street to the Chowning Tavern to eat, walking up and down the Duke of Gloucester Street anytime we wanted to, then meandering back into our building to go back upstairs to rest. It was like magic, for real. I enjoyed it even more than I enjoyed staying there on our honeymoon in 2002. Time makes some things more precious, including a marriage that has stood a lot of trials and tribulations over the past 20 years.
80’s Cruise, in general, but specifically – standing in the front row at the Paul Young concert with Russ swaying with me, his arms around me, singing “Everytime You Go Away,” 17-year-old Chrissie getting to glimpse it for just a moment, causing me to cry – if only she’d had a clue to how anything in her life would work out when she listened to the radio in the 80’s and willed a better, more fulfilling life for herself.