The Bucket List

By Mariana

Years of cultivating finesse in the written word, hours aspiring to hone artistry and professional flair under the vigilant scrutiny of various high school writing instructors,

[El Pasolandscape]

only to now concede in sheepish musing, “wow, I thought this blog would be a little bit easier to write!”

Minutes into developing my ideas for this blog, the seemingly consequential nature of my gap year struck me. A year-long hiatus from everyday academic responsibilities signified an opportunity for a respite—a breather, so to speak—right? After all, my intentions in taking a gap year initially comprised of my desire to heal after an arduous, pandemic-stricken senior year.

However, with the prospect of a gap year, the unknown stirred within the tenebrous abyss of my notes app. A bucket list emerged, compelling me to pursue a prolific gap year and relish every moment, this blog is a testament to my endeavors and inevitable growth.

During the fall semester of my gap year, I anticipate assuming this almost allegorical journey from my humble, yet vibrant hometown of El Paso, Texas. I further hope to utilize this platform to welcome you as companions as I traverse through “The Bucket List” (not to be confused with the 2007 film, “The Bucket List” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.) Strap in as I guide you through my best attempt at chronicling my gap year, and hopefully we will encounter some incisive wit and profoundly earnest discoveries along the way.

 

[Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy office (front door)]

A Taste of “The Bucket List”

Fulfilling my position as a fall intern for the Detained Team at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center occupies perhaps the most pivotal item I initiated from “The Bucket List” during the month of October. As a volunteer for the pro-bono provider of legal services to immigrants throughout the world, I manage and log interviews with detained clients in our border community, engaging in poignant conversations with refugees about their harrowing cases for asylum, plagued with injustices. My role with the organization remains one of constant emotional learning in commiserating with detainees as human individuals worthy of the benevolence and courtesy often deficient in the immigration system.

[Potted Flowers]

“The Bucket List,” peppered with diversions and odd pastimes, accommodates the hobbies of guitar-playing and gardening, both in which I lack experience and partake in sparsely on my free time. Amidst hours of YouTube tutorials, callusing fingertips, and the tragedy of an already broken string, I gradually attuned myself to the nuances of playing the guitar as successfully as most beginners (not too successfully, I imagine). As for the four potted plants I now own, I plan to continue to nurture them as my unusually aged children, upon whose life cycles winter rapidly approaches.

 

Looking Ahead

Of course, I expect the banality of “smooth-sailing” to apply detachedly to the year ahead. Within one month, I have walked into a door, to the dismay of my now-bruised nose, and potentially contracted esophagitis from swallowing a pill incorrectly. Needless to say, my days of braving pills without water are behind me (by about five days.)These minor physical misfortunes, however, also parallel my doubts. Already, the urge to leave satiated from this gap year perturbs me. However, never has my life felt more in my hands than at this moment—an irrevocable opportunity I do not seek to waste. While the dozens of items on “The Bucket List” may beseech my attention, I recognize the exhilarating dynamicity of the year before me, teeming with learning curves and moments that contradict the perception of some gap years as flashy and idyllic. I thus hope to approach this time with authenticity, no matter how many items I cross off “The Bucket List.” Perhaps this year I shall accomplish the extraordinary, or perhaps I will challenge convention with the conventional, finding the beauty of the taken for granted.