To Be 18 Again…

I was recently home in Philadelphia for a long weekend filled with family, friends, birds and an impromptu 10-mile road race.  On Friday night, the main event:  my high school reunion.  I am too vain to say which one, but it will become obvious as you read on. I attended an all-girls school that gradually morphed into a coed curriculum by the end of high school. I feel incredibly lucky that some of the girls I graduated with, and have known since we were 12 (some of them had gone to school together since kindergarten!), are still among my closest friends.

Leading up to my reunion I stumbled upon a tattered envelope containing a questionnaire that I filled out just before graduation. My mother says she remembers me filling it out, but I have absolutely no recollection. It was given to us at our last reunion five years ago and I must have tucked it away some place very safe because it survived the move from SoHo to the South End. In this questionnaire my classmates and I were asked some of our fondest memories of Springside, our favorite teachers, who our friends were at the time (my list still stands up). The final question was the doozy: THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU ANSWER.  WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WILL BE DOING OR WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR LIFE TO BE LIKE IN 10 YEARS?

Come on!  Why did the teachers think this was a good idea?  Did they want to drive us to the bar at our ten-year reunion?

I read my answer, which I will not repeat verbatim, because if you haven’t already assumed, the 18-year-old version of me got very specific about her future. My answer included living in Philadelphia (Chestnut Hill to be exact), my level of education (graduate degree), job (working in government or as a professor), I would be close with my parents (Awwww, I was such a sweet kid) and it detailed my anticipated marital and parental status (I thought I would have both a husband and a child by that point). I can understand how 18-year-old Emily would think 30 was a long way off. It was, I packed a lot of amazing and exhilarating experiences into my 20s, but did I really have to write “If I’m not married by 30???”  Please note, I used not one, but three, question marks as if the world would end if I blew out 30 birthday candles without a ring on my finger. Again, I forgive my younger self for not being able to anticipate the whirlwind of a life she would have over seven glorious years in New York, or all she would accomplish.

Having said that, I had to wonder if I could somehow tell 18-year-old Emily that instead of all these things on her life list she would move to New York City hoping to become the next Katie Couric, but find her true passion behind the camera as a writer and producer, associate produce an Emmy-nominated documentary on U.S. Marines in Iraq, write for the longest-running (not to mention most loved) anchor team in the city, make amazing new friends, and keep the valuable old ones (old as in known them longer, we all still look pretty darn young if I do say so myself, see below), then leave it all by picking up and changing cities and careers – what would young Emily say?  Would she be amazed or disappointed with the trajectory of her life?  I can barely recognize myself in the girl who filled out that questionnaire years ago, so I may have to accept that she would not recognize herself in the woman I am today.

Me and some of my to-this-day besties circa 1991…

…and many years later, enjoying cocktails, something we never did in high school…of course

So I wasn’t married at 30, and I am still not married at 33. I may get married at 35, or heck, I could meet Mr. Right tomorrow and run off to Vegas before anyone even reads this post. I have had the most amazing journey thus far, filled with amazing friends, relationships that have taught me a great deal, an ever-supportive family, and accomplishments — large and small — that I am infinitely proud of.  Most importantly, and in part through this blog, that journey gets more and more interesting every day.


This past weekend I invited dozens of my closest friends, and some total strangers, over to taste the amber I.P.A. that Matt and I brewed (hopefully) to perfection.  The other goals of the soiree were to create some buzz around, and generate some new ideas for, this very blog. Mission accomplished on all fronts!

I had tried my brew a few weeks before the party, when I confirmed that it did indeed taste like beer, but I had not had an entire bottle yet. Even if I had, I’m not sure if I have a sensitive enough palate to tell if the I.P.A. was really any good. As a result I bought an extra case of beer, just in case.

Some of my satisfied customers
Photo courtesy of Erin Wilson

As people filtered in I served the beer in a custom-made koozie with the url for this blog on it (I claimed it was grassroots marketing,which it was of course, but in addition, I couldn’t figure out how to make labels for the bottles). When the first guest said they really liked the beer, I thought they were being polite.  As more people tried it, however, I saw the look of shock on their faces as they told me how great my beer was. It was at that point that I really started to believe that they actually liked it! I felt like Sally Field at the Oscars! I could not believe that it was actually good!  This tasty outcome may make me reconsider brewing again, despite the slow pace of the process.

“Fantastic,” my friend Pete texted the next day.  Another friend, a connoisseur of I.P.A.’s, picked up several undertones (such as florals, caramel and blackberry) that not only was my palate not sophisticated enough to sense, but I’m not even sure which ingredient I can attribute the tastes to.  But I will take all the compliments I can get!

Me and my I.P.A., in its custom koozie, of course
Photo courtesy of Kara Feigenbaum

In addition to drinking — and to my surprise — raving, about my beer, guests were also talking about this blog.  Some people had never met me, and had never read my blog, so it was wonderful to tell them how I embarked on this adventure to find my next passion.  To hear their reactions, observations and encouragement was fantastic. A new audience with fresh perspectives and ideas was exactly what I needed!

In preparation for this party I created a suggestion box. Yes, a good old middle school style, arts and crafty suggestion box.  I encouraged guests to help me brainstorm what I should try next and I got some great ideas…some off-color suggestions…but lots of good, clean ideas that I will pursue and hopefully you will read about on these pages over the next weeks and months.

You can find a sampling of the suggestions below. Boy, oh boy, is this going to be fun!

In addition to the suggestions I received in my nifty suggestion box, I always accept suggestions electronically.  Please feel free to leave a comment or email me your bright idea at thegreatwideopenblog(at)gmail(dot)com!