summer

day 18 : 25 | what a time to be alive

(this one goes out to Becca Blank on her 25th birthday: couldn't have planned it if I tried.)

Wednesday, 3/23/16

I excel at reverse mind over matter. I have this habit of pretending that things that are happening are not actually happening, and think that I believe in my subconscious that if I ignore them for long enough, they will magically disappear. Hence, waiting four months to come to the doctor to have them look at my wrist. 

It is neither helpful nor realistic. But it’s how I tend to operate. Have tended to, I should say, since we’re on a journey of change. Yes, we. Lord knows I can’t do it alone, y’all. 

Turns out the CityMD doctor, aka the master of purgatory, thinks I have carpal tunnel syndrome.   Dr. Purgatory gave me a rather obtrusive (and ugly) brace and told me to make an appointment with a wrist specialist. I would have much rather have a broken wrist than a symptom of growing older. Logical? No. Where I’m at? Damn straight. 

I realize I’m not actually old - but I turned 25 this year, and it was the first birthday that I truly panicked over. 

25 just seems so adult.

22: basically still in college, poor decisions both expected and kinda welcomed.

23: graduated into adulthood, only just starting to navigate - mistakes expected and excused 

24: ok need to start to get it together - been adulting for a little while now and it’s time to reign it in a bit, however... still not totally there yet, so live it up - just be more responsible about it 

But 25? - been an adult for long enough that nothing can be blamed on naiveté; own your mistakes. No blaming poor decisions on age anymore. (In immediate retrospect, this is actually a good thing, and there is freedom to be found in it - but that’s currently not the point. We’ll get there.) 

Getting older is scary because I’m afraid of losing out on the fun. Young = fun - am I right? Probably not.

I feel like a lot of people fall into one of two categories -

  1. high school was the best time of my life
  2. college was the best time of my life 

I fall into category numero uno. High school was a blast. College was work. It was fun - but it was work. 

Now, high school was partly a blast because I happened to not suuuuper be interested in the academic side of things. But the social side? All over it. When you’re 16/17/18, live in a warm climate, have a car, reasonable resources, and awesome friends, life is pretty much designed to be one big party. There are no real responsibilities. Decision making on a whim and going where the wind takes you are basically the only requirements - especially in the summer time. I think the toughest decisions my friends and I made during our senior summer were : 

  1. when we would go to someone’s beach house
  2. whose house the party was at on a given night

We spent endless days and nights in Kitty’s backyard, in the pool, going to lunch, dinner, and Starbucks… nothing was decided until the day of and even then we’d change things around as we felt it. It was a simple way to live. 

            #seniorsummer

            #seniorsummer

At the time, all the adults in my life were telling me to "cherish this time because you’ll never get it back." But listening to adults when in high school is not exactly the average high schoolers m.o. So you can rest assured, that it wasn’t mine. 

The reality of it is that you can’t understand the freedom of having no responsibilities until you’ve had responsibilities… 

I now get the progression of high school to college. In college I was eased into real responsibilities. Make good grades, excel at my work, do my laundry, keep my dorm room or apartment clean. That pretty much sums it up.

And at the time, that felt like a lot of responsibility. I had never done my own laundry or cleaned my own living space. I’d picked up my room and kept it “clean,” but no, I’d never dusted or mopped floors or vacuumed. Not for a lack of effort by my parents. When I was in high school, my mum threatened to take away my allowance every week that I didn’t bring my empty hangers to the laundry room for my clean clothes to be hung on - I sacrificed my allowance. Why? I have no idea. In an attempt to teach me how to iron, my mum refused to have my clothes ironed until I learned - I settled for un-ironed clothes. I claimed that I had too much to do. I would LOVE to know now what it was that I thought I had to do that was so important… I was in actuality, just being a brat.

In my first year at college, when I was forced to take responsibility for my own living space, I became a total OCD neat freak. About two weeks in, I saw dust on my counters, and felt grime on my floors and realized that the room wasn’t going to clean itself. I promptly drove to Target and bought every cleaning product/supply imaginable.

But I purchased those products with an allowance. My food was paid by for a meal plan and later, when I moved off campus, by an increased allowance. My bills were paid by my parents. I thought I was such an adult. But L O L. 

The multi day cleaning process inflicted on my mum and boyfriend upon moving into my first apartment - #whythepinkuggsB

The multi day cleaning process inflicted on my mum and boyfriend upon moving into my first apartment - #whythepinkuggsB

If you’re reading this and thinking, “this girl is a spoiled brat. My parents paid for nothing. I had three jobs in college. I had to earn scholarships.” - I see your point and that’s awesome - Good for you!! I’m glad you learned early. I’m not discounting that I had it easier than I realized - but everyone grows up differently and knows life in a different way - this was my reality. So to me, it was hard. 

Actual life is different.

After two weeks of helping me move into my third floor walk-up, build furniture, and get to know the city, I closed the door to my parent's cab the day they left, got back up to my apartment and realized I had no idea what to do next. How was I going to do this? How could I? I was all alone.

Sitting on the steps of my Upper East Side walk up - #gossipgirl

Sitting on the steps of my Upper East Side walk up - #gossipgirl

But I was also excited - I had finally made the move to my magical NY. This is the place that alllll my dreams would come true. I would run around New York, wild and free, loving life. 

I remember thinking in those first few weeks that it had to be smooth sailing from here. Surely, my trials were behind me - having my heart totally broken and surviving life-saving brain surgery seemed like I had paid my dues. I would be walking into my promised land soon. That was over three years ago.

A tough family circumstance that began last November, came to a head on my 25th birthday in January. I was halfway across the country and could do nothing. I was helpless and hopeless. As I drove away from returning my new puppy (another post for another day - oof, that's a toughie), I couldn’t stop sobbing. I was now 25 and what did I have to show for my life? What dreams had I accomplished? What goals was I actively working towards? What lives have I touched? How have I contributed to the world?

I would say that from April 27, 2014 - March 5, 2016, I exercised my great ability to pretend that that my life was not what it was. There were patches here and there where I’d get on a roll, I would determine myself to make a change by accomplishing a trillion things on a to-do list aimed at my goals, and then something would set me off course. The life I pictured for myself couldn’t be further away. The things I thought I’d have accomplished couldn’t seem more unlikely. My life could not have looked more different from my plans if I tried. 

That hasn’t changed. I’m still 25 and my life doesn’t look the way I planned, dreamed, or imagined…. It looks better. 

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. - Prov 16:9

I have learned more than I ever could have wondered about. I have grown more than I thought possible. I have survived more than I ever thought capable. I have more clarity about what I dream than I could have if everything had gone according to plan. I have learned how to fully own my mistakes. I’ve learned when to stand up for myself, when to walk away, and when to extend the olive branch. I have a visceral understanding of bravery, perseverance, joy, and freedom. I am so glad that nothing went to plan. 

The detour hasn’t caused my dreams to diminish, it’s caused them to grow. 

At 25, my life is just beginning. The responsibilities aren’t so scary anymore - there’s a freedom in them. And sometimes, a song will come on and I’ll long for that carefree high school life for a minute - but when it’s over, I’m ready to get back to the life I have now and the life that’s ahead of me, because I know that even in the trial, it just keeps getting better. 

And you know what? I slept with that dumb brace on and it actually made my wrist not hurt for the first time in eons. #thebestisyettocome

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jer 29:11

day 5: pick six

Thursday, 3/10/2016  

When I was nine years old, I went to visit my new school that I was dead against being forced to attend. It had been a long application and interview process and this was the day where I would tour the place that was to be my new stomping grounds. The fact that they accepted me was, in and of itself, shocking. In my interview, when the headmaster asked me why I wanted to attend the school, I broke down crying and said that I didn’t and that it’d be good if they denied me admittance. Then I proceeded to wipe my snotty nose on my yellow pearl snap button down shirt with a denim collar and little navy blue baby’s breath flowers all over it. He then very gently offered me a kleenex. 

I remember moments in life by what I was wearing. That was my favorite shirt at the time. Heck, if it still existed today in an adult size, I’d wear it. My fondest memory wearing it was at my Granny and Grandpa's house in the English countryside. We have a photo somewhere that I can't seem to find...

Granny and Grandpa Paul’s house was the keeper of my secret spot (which I now know was not secret at all.) In the very back of their garden was a big bush, and nestled up against the back of that bush, was a wooden bench. I would sit on my bench for hours, telling myself stories, dreaming about what my life would be, and laying down on it, just looking up at the sky. If I stood on the bench and got up on my tiptoes (thankfully, the trusty bush was tall enough to hide this occurrence from my Granny’s manner minding eyes,) I could see over the back fence and into a field that stretched for what seemed like a hundred miles - you couldn’t see beyond it. This last Christmas, we took a detour past the cottage and the new owners have changed everything. I hate change. I so desperately wanted to knock on the door and ask if I could go sit on my bench for just a moment, but the fear that I might discover that in all their changes, my secret place no longer exists, stopped me. I want to remember it in all its perfection - a place untainted by the realities of life. My greatest desire when I was a little girl peering over the fence, was to jump it and just run through those fields until I couldn’t anymore, collapsing in a fit of giggles, gasping for air. I’d still love to do that.  

My new school scared me. I knew that I was being sent there because it was a more academically focused school with the structure needed to tame my wild and rambunctious spirit. I wanted to be left wild.  Leaving my old school made me realize that I would have to make new friends. I’d never even realized that making friends was something you do and I wasn’t scared that I wouldn’t.

Sitting on the big leather chair inside the school office waiting for the tour to begin, a little blonde girl that I recognized from a basketball camp I’d attended earlier that summer, walked in with her parents and plopped down right next to me. 

“I like your Nike watch. I’ve got a turqouise Baby-G, see? But I like yours too. I’m Kitty.” 

“Thanks. It was my Christmas gift this year. I like it because it’s sporty, but I like yours too. I’m Becky.” 

Kitty and I didn’t know as we sat in our soon to be art room later that day, bonding over the Mary-Kate and Ashley movie, “Passport to Paris,” that our friendship would stand the test of time. We should have known - because any friendship that begins because of Mary-Kate and Ashley is obviously a good one. 

We had no idea that we’d become a part of the same friend group and watch each other go through our most formative years. We didn’t know that I’d be there when she got her heart broken for the first time or that she’d be there to see me and cheer me on as I fulfilled one of my biggest dreams. We were definitely clueless when it came to all the questionable decisions we would have a ton of fun (sorry, Mum and Dad) making together in high school. We couldn’t have predicted that during out senior year of high school, I would be rushed to the hospital, and that when I was discharged a week later, it would be with the knowledge that I was sick with life-threatening conditions. We might not have even believed how fun our 'senior summer’ would be - when our group of friends saw each other every single day, until that gut-wrenching day when the first of us went off to college, and the weeks involving lots of teary goodbyes began. None of us were going to the same schools. It was the first time that classes would finish at the end of the day, and the option of just driving to Kitty’s house to lay out in the pool or hang out on the third floor didn’t exist. 

The group text started almost immediately after the first of us left. Well, this was 2009, so it started as a group Facebook message. We had to be completely up to date on every nitty gritty aspect of each other’s lives. Our first Thanksgiving home was the reunion of all reunions and our best tradition began. Every Thanksgiving night at about 9:45pm, we all go to Kitty’s house, light a bonfire, make smores, eat her leftovers, have a few drinks, and talk into the night. (#holeyjeans) Personally, I like to think that in our subconscious we do it because it's Thanksgiving and this group of girls is one of the things we are most thankful for in our lives - but writing that down, I can see the girls rolling their eyes and going “ohhhh gawwd” at my puttering on. Thanksgiving is truly “our” holiday though. In college, that five day weekend was like the holy grail…always the scene of our most memorable, or not so memorable, nights. It still is. Though in our old age, we’ve become much more responsible. I think.

                                                           Thanksgiving

                                                           Thanksgiving

We know each other so well that sometimes it’s just weird. And other times it's perfect. The first time I had my heart shattered into a million pieces and told them via group text, not one of them called me for a few days, because they knew I wouldn’t be able to, or want to talk. But you better believe that my phone never stopped buzzing with messages for three days. We have seen each other at our best and at our worst, been there for each other’s highest highs and lowest lows…and those lows have been pretty dang low. We’ve fought hard and made up hard. We once went over a year without one of us, and it sucked every single day. But it took us all of about five minutes to get over it and welcome her back with open arms the first time she showed up to our standard “last night we will all be together before one of us leaves” dinner - and it’s never been different since.

Our lives are changing and so are we. We’re adults now who live in different parts of the country, with jobs and responsibilities. Our dreams, beliefs, and priorities have shifted and changed, but I have to believe that at the core of it all, our deep rooted friendship won’t. A few months ago, the last time all six of us were together, I threw out the idea of giving up on everything I came here to do - and every single one of them just yelled at me a version of “absolutely not” (Melanie’s version may have had a few choice words thrown in there...) because they know me and they believe in me - even when I don't believe in myself. (I’m vomiting at how corny I sound.) 

I can’t imagine my life without Mary Ellen’s long lasting bear hugs, Mel’s high pitched scream when I walk through the door or when a particularly funny part of a story is told, Eleanor’s bringing Curly Sue (her dog) everywhere we go - she’s basically the 7th honorary member of Pick Six, Kitty’s chuckle laugh, or Sarah’s “heyyyy” when she walks into a room. I have learned everything I need to know about friendship from these girls. They are my chosen family. They are a massive part of why I miss TX, but an even bigger part of what keeps me here. Whenever I come home, one of my mum’s first questions is - “Well, what are your plans with the girls?” because she knows. 

The group text that began seven years ago lives on strong today, and as I write this post, with tears in my eyes on and off at the gratitude I feel, my phone just buzzed to say I have a new message on our thread, and all seems right with the world. 

*~hugz n kisses~*