As this summer draws to a close I've been thinking about important milestones and significant anniversaries. Ten years ago this summer Mike and I got married. 15 years ago today (happy anniversary!) my younger sister, Anna, got married to her husband Tom. And twenty years ago this summer I first went to St. Petersburg, Russia on a college study abroad program, staying through the end of the year. We all have formative experiences and my first several months in Russia were definitely that. Because of that first time there I returned a few years later to live and work. My experiences in Russia were wonderful, exciting, illuminating, terrible, fascinating, amazing, frightening...basically all the adjectives. I made several incredible friendships, some of which have lasted, some of which are pleasant memories that have faded but are not forgotten. I fell in love for the first time. I saw dead bodies for the first time, casualties of a sometimes violent and ruthless era in post-Soviet life. I took risks that only young people take and was fortunate to walk away with stories to tell and not cautionary tales. I was filled with a deep wanderlust in my twenties and that first summer in 'Peterburg' helped to fuel that spirit. Traveling fed my soul until it didn't anymore and now twenty years later I'm happily living a good life on our farm in Palermo, Maine, two miles from my childhood home. I'll return to Russia again someday but until then I can look back through photos, surround myself in memories and be filled with gratitude for the experiences that led me to where I find myself today. And isn't that really what this life is about?