Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Ten Best Days of My Life

The Ten Best Days of My Life by Adena Halpern

A heavenly novel about what truly matters in life. In this hilarious and heartwarming first novel, twenty-nine year old Alexandra Dorenfield suddenly finds herself in heaven after an unfortunate encounter with a Mini Cooper. The seventh—and highest—level of heaven to be exact. Her dog Peaches is with her; she is reunited with her beloved grandparents; she has the wardrobe of a movie star; and she lives in the house of her dreams next door to a handsome guy. This is heaven! But there’s a catch. Alex must prove she led a fulfilling existence by writing an essay on the ten best days of her life— or she will be demoted to a lower level of heaven, where the clothes are last year’s styles, the men aren’t quite as handsome, and worst of all, Peaches and her family won’t be nearby. Witty and inspiring, this divine debut novel dares to ask a material girl—and the rest of us—what makes life precious.

(summary from www.shelfari.com)

This is a book I recently came across on my friend’s shelf on the website www.shelfari.com. Although I haven’t read it, I have it on reserve at my local library. This book got me thinking about my own life and my own ten best days. After much contemplation, I could only come up with about five examples from about the last 15 years or so. I’m sure I had many happy days in my childhood, but I think it’s easier to be happy when you’re a child because you have less adult responsibilities to weigh you down.

1) my 24th Birthday 3/20/94

Even though I was away at college, I had a boyfriend (who later became my husband) and a good friend who lived upstairs in my dorm. We had a fun day out taking in a matinee of a ballet performance of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” I called my grandparents during a lull between waiting for bus transportation back. Went to dinner after getting back to my university, and finished the evening with a chocolate cake my friend had baked for me (and alcoholic beverages!). It was a day where I felt truly loved by those around me.

2) Spring Break afternoon shopping spree, 1999, Gloucester

Since I was on flexi-time, I was allowed to work half a day and then leave. I think my employer (MAFF) was also letting people leave early since the next day was a holiday (Good Friday). I remember walking home (on a gorgeous warm sunny day) and then catching the bus into town for an afternoon shopping spree. I have no idea how much I spent, but the weather was nice and I just loved the whole wonderful carefree feeling.

3) the day one of my best friends arrived for a visit in the UK, Dec. 1999, Gloucester

One of my close friends had just finished her time in the Peace Corps (in Mali, West Africa) and had arranged to fly back to the states via London. This allowed a brief window of opportunity for her to stop and see me and my husband for a few days. One of my happiest memories of her visit is watching her sit sideways in our old lumpy second-hand chair, her legs hanging over the side, while reading excerpts aloud from our Lonely Planet French language guide. We especially enjoyed the translation for “I am a heroine addict. Where is your nearest clinic?” (or something like that).

4) the day my parents arrived for a visit in the UK, June, 2000

Their visit was something I had (literally) dreamed about since moving to the UK almost a couple years earlier. It was everything I wanted it to be and then some. I remember making them a dinner of pasta bake for their first night, wishing to show off my newly-acquired cooking skills. My sister presented me with a belated birthday present of a little scrapbook featuring my dog Comet, whom I had left behind when moving to England. I thought the scrapbook was a touching gesture and made me cry. It’s still one of my most cherished possessions.

5) the day I went to Bristol all by myself to see the Titanic exhibit at the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum, summer 2002?

For starters, it was an unseasonably warm day in England, but most welcome. I probably wore shorts (making me a dead giveaway as an American) and a t-shirt. I rode the Park ‘n Ride bus to town, then took a train to Bristol Temple Meads. From there it was only a short walk to the adjacent museum. Among the many Titanic relics on display was the largest item I had ever seen – that being a deck chair (yes, really!) that had been aboard ship, but removed in Cherbourg I think and given to someone affiliated with the White Star Line as thanks for their service to the line, or something like that.

Because I was alone (and not with my husband), I opted to hit the gift shop first knowing that’s all I’d think about when viewing the exhibit. Among other things I bought a t-shirt that is one of the softest and most comfortable shirts I own, something I count among my prized possessions today. After leaving the museum I bought a sickly sweet waffle with chocolate oozing all over it. I couldn’t finish it, but what I did eat was quite good.

The day was special because the weather was nice, and I loved the feeling of independence of being able to travel on my own, choose my own souvenirs and eat whatever junk food I felt like, and getting to see stuff that was once on the Titanic.

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