1. Avon 39 reflections. There’s a lot I could write about: all the people on the route who cheered us on, including the San Jose bike cops and a local motorcycle club; the fact that I could barely walk on Monday; the incredible rush of finishing and seeing D and M right at the line waiting for us. But what I want to leave you with is this: In among all the cheering, sandwiched between the tutus and the rhinestones and the boobie jokes, was real, unadulterated loss. People walked with pictures, with names, with messages for their dead. We met a woman and her stepdaughter at breakfast. “Her mother died of breast cancer,” the stepmother said. “We’re doing this for her.”

11-112. 5 years and counting. Let’s face it, marriage is hard. It’s learning to live with all of your spouse’s tics and all of your own. It’s compromise, endless compromise, long after you’ve given in to all the things you said you wouldn’t do. And it is glorious. It’s that smile you share in the morning, when you know all is right with the world because you’ve woken up next to each other. It’s the way your pace changes when you walk next to each other, so that your strides are exactly the same length. It’s striving, constantly, to be a better wife, a better husband, a better parent, a better person. Marriage is change, and it is growth, and it is a celebration of the little victories, day after day.

3. Shut up and write. I made my way to a writing group on Sunday, after a series of messages with a fellow writer that culminated in the realization that the only way I’ll ever have time to write is if I take it. So I did, and got almost 3,000 words down in an hour and a half. Good words. I think I’m setting myself up to fail if I try to make it every week, but once a month would be a good thing.

4. How we speak. I grew up in the era of the phone call, of the enviable coolness of the kids who had their own phone line, of paying the long distance bill for spending hours talking to my friends who lived on the other side of the state. I thought nothing of calling someone just to say hey, while scrupulously observing the 10 am to 10 pm rule. These days? I don’t call unless I have something important to say. I’ll text at all hours of the night, confident that if whomever I’m messaging is asleep, they’ve put their phone on silent. Conversations can take hours or days, snatched in between folding laundry and doing dishes. It changes the way we speak, the way we think about speaking. We are always on, always available – and rarely present.

5. Grace. I’ve moved around too much to have a giant group of friends. Instead, I’ve held onto a few people from each place I’ve lived. The kind of friends I can go without talking to for years, and then fall right back into where we were the next time we see each other. This has been a rough year, with lots of soul searching and self doubt and wondering if I’ve made the right decisions. And just when I needed it, one of those friends came back into my life and said exactly what I needed to hear.