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Checking Boxes
Stuff ‘N Nonsense 6-14-23
Kim Van Meter

My last column was about my daughter — the baby — graduating and now that we’ve checked that box, we can move to the next big thing coming up fast.

On June 26th, my daughter is going to Europe for a 13-day whirlwind tour of four countries — Italy, Spain, France, and Vatican City — so we’ve been quickly switching gears to get her ready for the big trip.

It wasn’t easy for our family to make this trip happen, but we scrimped, saved and sacrificed so that she could embark on this trip-of-a-lifetime.

I’m not going to lie, I’m living a little vicariously through her and I’ve drilled into her head that she must take a million pictures and make incredible memories.

When I was 17, there was an opportunity to go on a similar trip to France. I desperately wanted to go but my parents said no, and I was crushed.

It’s been many years since that heartbreaking disappointment but it’s crazy how we can be broadsided by the echo of those feelings when we least expect it.

Earlier in the year, we were jumping through the many hoops to obtain my daughter’s passport. Once the paperwork was filed, fees paid, and everything was signed, sealed and delivered — I was stunned by the overwhelming urge to bawl my eyes out.

At first, I rationalized that I was crying with joy that we were making this happen for her but then I realized the emotion came from a deeper place.

I was crying for the 17-year-old me who never got the opportunity to leave the country yet, decades later, my daughter would.

It reminded me of my maternal grandmother, who always wanted to be a writer, tearing up as I placed my first published book in her hand.

Some dreams are gifted to the next generation when circumstances get in the way of our goals.

The reality is, I might never make it to France — or anywhere out of the United States. I used to think, “Oh, there’s still time,” but the sand in the hourglass continues to run at an ever-quickening pace, suffocating that possibility with every falling grain.

Finances are always tight for some reason or another and the idea of trying to find a way to fund an international trip seems ridiculously out of reach.

So, I will send my daughter to see the sights, eat the food, and experience the culture that was denied to me yet will forever remain in my dreams.

And hopefully — as the pickiest eater of all my children — she doesn’t go all the way to Europe, just to eat bread.


Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide a monthly column. She can be reached at