Thursday, December 30, 2010

All or Nothing.

"I don't want to leave" she said under her visibly cold breath as the two of us walked slowly towards the snow covered car. "you're telling me" I replied sadly as I grabbed the snow scraper and began to pick away at the ice frozen to our windshield. It was 5:45 am on Monday morning and we were heading back to the city and back to reality. As my roommate and I pulled out of the driveway and turned onto the road that would lead us home, I looked behind me and caught one last glimpse of the beautiful house in all it's glory, and I couldn't help but think about the people sleeping soundly within it's massive walls.

The two of us showed up that Friday night like we always do. Praying that we were at the right house, we burst through the front doors dancing and singing, interrupting an all-house board game and probably terrifying the souls of the fifteen people we had yet to meet who were also attending the weekend getaway in Keystone, Colorado. It had been a long, late evening drive up to the mountains for us when the highway was closed due to strong winds and low visibility. There was actually a point when we contemplated turning around and heading home, "It might not be worth it" we said, going back and forth, weighing our options before deciding to ultimately wait out the storm and continue on. "All or nothing" we thought as we braved the blizzard and blared the radio. Two hours and many snowy miles later we found ourselves in that warm kitchen, surrounded by the remnants of a family-style dinner and a room full of complete strangers. Over the next hour, introductions were made, drinks were poured, and we began to settle into a weekend that would come to be something so much more than the casual ski trip we all initially thought it would be.

Saturday morning I woke up to a warm fireplace and the most beautiful snow capped mountains I have seen in a long time. I also woke up to a strange feeling, and contrary to my first belief, it was not just a hangover. The night before had brought board games and vodka tonics, but it had also brought some of the best conversations I have had in a long time and as I recounted the night's events, I realized that in a matter of hours and during one long hot tubbing session, I had become extremely close with the people who were nothing but strangers to me hours before. In the midst of snow ball fights and kitchen dance parties I had found such a comfort in hearing the stories of these perfect strangers and for some reason or another, had felt completely free to tell them my story as well.

I have come to find that people most definitely enter into your life for a reason. Through strong friendships, broken relationships and a lot of small talk with randoms, it is obvious that you can take something away from every person you meet if you really listen to them. In this case, I could not have been more different than most of the people I shared the weekend with. They had years on me, not to mention life experience. Hearing about their struggles, their life choices and the things they had done to get them where they are today made me wonder how and why in God's name it was that our paths had crossed in that town, on that weekend. It was as if everything that had happened in our lives before we met, occurred for a reason and led us up to that exact point, that exact moment in time in Keystone. Regardless of the trials and triumphs we had all been through on our own, fate or something like it brought us together, merged our stories and taught me that when you least expect it, someone will teach you something that will change you.

Friday night I sat across from strangers, Saturday night I sat across from friends, and on Sunday night I'm pretty sure I shared a chair with someone that had become somewhat of a family member and come the end of the weekend, leaving them sounded absolutely miserable. Extending our trip an extra night and slowly killing ourselves with a 5:30am wake up call on Monday morning in order to make it back for work, my roommate and I desperately tried to hold on to as much of the weekend as we could, to squeeze everything possible out of it. Driving back to the city, we sipped on coffee and debriefed the weekend. As we watched the sun rise over the mountains, it's first rays dancing on the snow and sparkling across our eyes I thought back to the conversations had and the friendships that resulted from them. I wondered where the relationships would go and whether I would ever see my new -found friends again. And as we made our way through the snowy pass, I remembered just how close we were to giving into the storm and bagging the whole weekend on the way up, and I really couldn't have been any happier that in the end we chose all instead of nothing.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Cup of Life.

"I miss you and I miss our old life" the text read. And as I sat day dreaming about the life I once led, my thoughts drifted to the infamous Montmartre, an artist's paradise and my favorite district in Paris. After recalling the busy scenery, the sweet smells and the sounds of the ever-so smooth French language, my mind came to rest on a small table outside a quaint cafe. There, my memory stopped and focused in on one cup of coffee and one cup of tea.

A lot can happen in 365 days. I realize the weight of this statement as I sit alone with a cup of coffee at the antique white dining table in my new home in a new city. Time is interesting in that minutes and days can pass so slowly, yet weeks and months so quickly. And while the time is passing so are the moments, the experiences and the memories. It is hard for me to comprehend exactly how certain memories can stay so fresh in your mind, while others fade silently into the background. Which ones take precedence over the others and how do you subconsciously choose the ones that last?

It was a brisk day in France when we stumbled across that little cafe. Wandering through the busy streets with no agenda and no time limit, we had become increasingly drunk off the French culture, the history, the beauty and maybe just a little tipsy off the wine we had been sampling all afternoon. Dodging yet another artist begging to sketch us for a "special price", we quickly turned a corner and found ourselves in a square that we could have only ever imagined in our dreams. Naturally, wanting to spend as much time as possible in this little pocket of perfection we jumped on an opportunity to sit at a small outside table amongst the bright colors and bustling crowd. It was here that we laughed when placing our order, realizing that living together for five months had made both of us too predictable. One cup of coffee with cream and one cup of tea, sugar for both please.

How many times in our five month stint in Europe had we done this? Sitting in a coffee shop or at a train station sipping on our preferred drink and taking in the scenery. Yet somehow, this time was different. It was as if time was standing still and no one cared. We watched while an artist placed the first of many strokes on a clean canvas and stared in amazement as the painter next to him put the finishing touches on his latest masterpiece. We laughed as a waiter at the cafe across the way tried to lure some female passerby's in with charm and a not-so-subtle wink of the eye. Soaking in the experience and sipping on our drinks of choice we began to talk life. We talked about the future, what it held for us and where we were headed after our European love affair was complete. Imaging our lives and our future selves we made predictions and prophecy's and in the end, promises.
Promises to never forget that afternoon, those moments and the scenery. Promises to return to Paris and stumble upon that same square and most of all, the promise that no matter how crazy life gets, no matter how many years pass and how many new memories are made, we will always make time for each other and one cup of coffee, one cup of tea, and one giant cup of life.

I received her text today and as I read it, I was surprised by the memory of that afternoon and the vividness it still holds in my mind. There we were, two American girls spending a simple afternoon in Paris, sipping on coffee and tea, all the while making a memory that would last a lifetime.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Give Thanks.

Today I am thankful for friends that have become family in a city that has become home.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Apple Never Falls Too Far.

"Okay Sweetie, be good and say your prayers everyday. Bye. Wait! Don't forget that I'm proud of you. Okay bye. Wait! One more thing, I love you very much. Bye Angel."

This is how the telephone conversation with my grandmother ended today as I finished up my morning coffee. This is the exact way our phone conversations have ended for as long as I can remember. She tells me not to forget to pray and squeezes as many positive affirmations and I love you's as possible into the last five seconds of each phone call.

The social butterfly that she is, my grandmother spends a minimum of three hours on the phone a day. Three hours minimum. With friends and family spread all over the greater fifty states, she is constantly checking in with new friends, checking up on old ones, and gathering enough gossip to fill an ocean. Some of the oldest memories I have of my grandmother are visions of her sitting in her favorite chair in the kitchen, twirling the telephone cord around her left hand while doodling away with her right. She would fill up entire notebooks in one week with endless signatures, names, dates and boxes. She always drew boxes. As a young girl I used to get annoyed with her absurdly long conversations, pulling on her arm and begging her to pay attention to me. I didn't understand how she could A.) know so many people and B.) physically talk for that long. As the years passed and when I left for college, I used to actually semi-dread phone calls with my grandmother for the sole reason that I would have to set aside huge chunks of time during my day every few weeks to talk to her. Of course these long conversations conflicted with the "important" things, taking away from my social life or that extra hour on the beach.

Recently though, having grown up and re-prioritized the "important" things in life, I have a new found respect for these phone calls and the hour or so I spend every other week updating my grandmother on my new life here. These are calls that I have grown to love and minutes that I have begun to cherish.

We cover the same grounds every time. I tell her about my new house, my roommate and the job hunt, she tells me about her Pinnacle games, the latest gossip in the assisted living home where she now resides, and her most recent visitors. Then she usually follows with a round about way of asking whether I have a new boyfriend or not and proceeds to finish the conversation off with a not-so-subtle hint that she would really like to put a wedding on her calendar. Namely that of one of her nine grandchildren. These days, an hour chatting with that fire cracker is never enough, but somehow, even at age 86, she still remains busier than anyone I know and I can always tell when she is late for an appointment or daily Communion when she initiates the end of the phone call with the all too familiar "Okay Sweetie..."

Today, after our long chat and the usual two minutes of saying goodbye, somewhere in between the the time that the phone left my ear and the time that I actually hung up on dear Dolores, I heard her say one last thing. Somehow in that fraction of a second, she squeezed in "Don't worry Angel, everything always works out."

And now, as I sit with my thoughts on a cold, crisp Colorado afternoon, her words continue to be at the front of my mind. I think back to the last time I saw her before I moved. I drove through central Washington to visit my grandmother on a warm late summer day in September. I had only planned on staying for one night but as usual, ended up staying three.

"Well, you are just so much like your grandmother" Ted at table four said over a dinner of cold meatloaf and mushy vegetables in the main dining room. "We'll go out for breakfast before you leave tomorrow" my grandmother whispered to me from across the table as she struggled to finish her tasteless meal while completely ignoring Ted, who I am convinced has a crush on her. And as I laughed and stared back at my blue eyed, red haired grandmother, I wondered if we really were actually anything alike at all.

Later that night as we chatted over decaf coffee and warm cookies I worked up the courage to ask if she thought I was crazy for moving. I asked her if she ever felt the need to run away at my age, if she ever wanted more for herself. I asked her if I should be worried and if she thought things would work out for me. And before I even had a chance to think twice about the real-time talk I had just initiated, she said softly,"Sit down Angel".

Two hours and quite a few tears (on my part) later, I knew it all. Its a funny thing when you realize that your parents or grandparents in this case, had a life before you. Before her husband, the farm, the five children she birthed, and the nine grandchildren she was blessed with, she had a life. Her own life. And after listening to her struggles, her choices and her story, so many things made sense. She lived through a war, a depression, two engagements, years of bad crops, and years of really great ones. And as she spoke, I realized that the decisions she made when she was my age were the decisions that defined her life. "Don't be scared to make a wrong choice" she told me that night, "because wrong choices can be the best choices of your entire life". The next day I drove home with a new appreciation for my grandmother and a new found confidence in my own decision to redesign my life.

"Don't worry Angel" I heard her say today. "Everything always works out". As I put the phone down and sat on my bed I thought of my grandmother with her perfectly dyed red hair and her sparkly blue eyes and I hoped with all my might that I had given her enough positive affirmations today and that I had told her I loved her at least four times. Then I looked down at the notebook I had been doodling in and laughed when I realized that during our hour long conversation, I had covered six pages front to back with my signature, names of random people, and of course, boxes.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Inspiration

"Remember when you leave this earth you can take with you nothing that you have received. Only what you have given."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Same Same But Different.

"You come here often" said the dark haired barista as he handed me a freshly made extra hot vanilla latte. "and you always sit in the same spot by the window don't you?" he continued.

"Ya, I do actually" I replied, burying my face in the coffee and trying to hide my embarrassment over the fact that he had noticed.

Two weeks and a lot of vanilla lattes later, Chaz and I are the best of friends. Of course being the chronic nickname giver that I am, Chaz's name is actually Ken. On a rainy afternoon last week during one of our daily chats, I informed the innocent barista that he looked more like a Chaz than anything and so, after a three minute debate, permission was granted for me to call him whatever the hell I pleased, and thus Chaz, a name that suits him far better than Ken ever will.

A transplant here in Denver from the heart of New York City, Chaz is a fast speaking Italian with long eyelashes and quit wit. The two of us have gotten to know each other in this little coffee shop and wine bar, talking life over glasses of white merlot and watching the weather change from rays of sun to flakes of snow. I've listened to stories from his days as a restaurant owner in Tribeca, his time as a graphic designer in San Fran, and his current situation here in the Mile High City, which involves splitting his time between brewing coffee and attending nursing school. Equally, I have told Chaz stories of my life, trying to explain what has led me to make the decisions I have made thus far and even more so trying to make sense of where my future is heading. Chaz is a good listener, keeping the coffee flowing and every once in a while providing me with free glasses of wine to sample and give my opinions on. Coincidentally, these very large pours of wine often come during times of frustration and uncertainty while my job search here in Denver continues. And though the job search has at times gotten me down, I have fallen for this little shop. I have fallen for Chaz, (not in that way of course, as his sexuality is still extremely unclear). And I have fallen in love with my table in the corner by the window.

The other day while writing my umpteenth cover letter and drinking my third coffee in two hours, I realized that this coffee shop has become my home away from home. And as I contemplated why it is that I feel so at home amongst the comfy chairs and swinging overhead twinkle lights, the shabby chic decor and the painted wine bottles lining the windows, I realized that the comfort I feel here is the same comfort that I felt at my favorite coffee shop in Seattle. I pondered this thought some more while watching rain drops fall outside, and I was instantly taken back to this past spring and the many days I spent in the Fremont Coffee House watching the rain fall and sipping Seattle's Best. I recounted the hours I spent there job searching and the hours I spent there writing on my days off once I did find a job. I remembered the afternoon's spent giggling over Americanos with Darcy and Madison and I nearly laughed out loud recalling the emo red haired barista who pretended to never remember me and always seemed to be having the worst day possible.

As I stared out the window, reminiscing about Seattle, I realized that coffee shops are my safe havens. They are where I make my biggest decisions and where I am most creative. Coffee shops are places where I can be whoever I want to be, whether that means a quiet customer in the corner consumed by head phones and a good book or a noisy regular at a table in the front. And though each shop has a different feel and a different vibe, I always find comfort in the mismatched chairs and the same warmth that comes from a good cup of jo.

"What am I going to do when you actually get a job?" Chaz asked this afternoon as he served a plate of goat cheese to the woman sitting at the table next to me.

"Get over yourself Chaz. I need a job." I replied without looking up from my computer screen. "But seriously, are you going to quit coming here or what?" he asked in a sincere tone that was unexpected coming from the usually snappy New Yorker.

I then looked up at my friend, a person I met merely weeks ago but already feel so connected to, and said "I love it here. I feel at home here. And you will be able to find me at this table in the corner until I leave this city for good."

With that Chaz turned towards the kitchen and without looking back said, "This calls for a drink. Let me get your opinion on this new Chardonnay we just got in." It was then that I turned my attention back to the window and continued to watch the rain fall from my favorite spot in my home away from home.

Friday, November 5, 2010


"Life is not always about what you did or what you were able to accomplish, but rather who you did or accomplished it with."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What's the Story Morning Glory?

I have never been much of a morning person. I guess I can attribute this to the fact that my Dad completely ruined mornings for me beginning at a very young age. Up until I turned sixteen and was given my first cell phone (which doubled as an alarm clock and additionally was supposed to prove my new-found responsibility), my Father would wake me up for school. A daily ritual that consisted of him flipping on the extremely bright and unforgiving lights above my head, ripping back my perfectly warm covers and yelling in a far too enthusiastic voice "GET UP SPARKY! ITS A NEW DAY!".

Surprisingly, the worst part of this early morning experience was not the brief moment of blindness I encountered when trying to adjust my eyes to the light nor the goosebumps I would immediately get with the absence of my duvet cover, but it was of course, the fact that my Dad was inherently early. With his watch set ahead of schedule at all times, he would wake me fifteen minutes earlier than needed. Every. Single. Day. Well i'm no mathematician, but fifteen minutes a day is equivalent to seventy-five minutes a week and that I mean, that really adds up. At the end of the month, I was losing approximately 300 minutes of precious sleep due to my Dad's inability to tell the correct time and believe me, I was not happy about it.

With the combination of such harsh movements, noises, and lights at such an early hour, it isn't hard to understand why no one wanted to sit by me on the school bus in the mornings, or why my mom to this day, still refuses to say one word to me until i've had a large cup of coffee and at least an hour to wake up. It also may explain the fact that during the weekends and my two days of sanity, I used to be able to sleep until noon or 1 pm, wasting away half of the day and probably subconsciously avoiding the morning and the bright lights all together.

Here, however, things are different. Blame it on the fact that I'm getting older and for some reason as we age we are all supposed to turn into morning people, or blame it on the fact that mornings here are still fresh and exciting to me, whatever the cause, it is happening.

I find myself actually enjoying the quiet mornings here on Hooker Street. I look forward to sitting in our sunroom, reading and watching the leaves fall. I love the way the sun reflects through our windows in the kitchen, giving off an incredible early morning glow and I am actually starting to be able to wake up after only one alarm and one press of the snooze button. Which is pretty good for me considering I used to hit snooze more times in one day than I hit the gym in an entire week. Yes, it is happening. I am turning into a morning person and the weirdest part of it all is... I don't necessarily hate it.

This past weekend was a wild one for those of us here on Hooker Street. With a Halloween party for the books, a crazy night downtown and a few too many costumes for one holiday, we did it big to say the least. Normally, I would have slept off my hangover and the flashbacks of dancing on stage, on the bar, and any surface in downtown Denver for that matter. But this weekend, I found myself anxious to get out of bed and begin each day. Whether the morning started with bloody mary's and french toast at a quaint cafe or large glasses of water and my homemade cheesy egg sandwiches in the comfort of our new house, the days started with a lot of laughter, a lot of recaping, and quite a bit of ambition.

It could have been the early morning light or the lingering levels of alcohol in our blood, whatever the case, it led us to pack our weekend days full of rugby games, exploration of new neighborhoods, and even the rash decision to paint our kitchen a straw yellow color during the midst of one of the worst hangovers i've had in a long time. Talk about a bold move.
Saturday morning as I picked up the pieces of the night before, finding half of my costume in the kitchen, the other half on my bedroom floor and the location of my right shoe still unknown, I glanced up at the clock and thought "That can't be right". It was nine am. I was fully functioning, holding real conversations, and I hadn't even had coffee yet.

Though age and the fact that I am turning into my parents more and more by the day, may play large roles in my new-found affection for mornings, I truly believe that this city is changing me. I look forward to mornings here because with each morning comes another chance to find a new favorite restaurant, a new friend, or to write a new story. I am liking waking up earlier here, I am enjoying my daily cup of coffee more, and although it is still sometimes hard to leave the warmth of my bed behind, I am okay with the fact that the minute hand of my watch, cell phone, and the clock in the kitchen are slowly but surely creeping toward that fifteen minute early mark. Because fifteen minutes earlier, means fifteen more minutes in a day and 300 more minutes in a month to explore the Mile-High City. And here, time is not to be wasted with your eyes closed.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Write for Peace. Read for Peace.

Ever since I can remember, I have kept a journal. Scratch that. Ever since I can remember being able to write in full sentences with some sort of feeling or emotion, I have kept a journal. Cue sixth grade and a flowery, red Hello Kitty diary. It came with wide ruled lines (perfect for my illegible chicken scratch) and a big yellow lock. Thank goodness for that lock. Although it could be opened with merely a swift pull and no key, the lock let me sleep at night and it gave me some sort of reassurance that my parents weren't able to, nor would they ever dare break into the diary and read my deepest, darkest secrets. Secrets which included my undying hatred for math class and a strong dislike for my teacher Mr. Lucky, who for the entirety of my sixth grade year called me by the wrong name. That little red book was filled cover to cover with detailed accounts of Oregon Trail game days in computer lab and tetherball triumphs on the black top.
It was also filled with quite a few entries about Sam, my science lab partner and the person who sat directly to my right for an entire year.

In the beginning, the Sam entries consisted of how much I loathed him, how much he teased and bullied me, and detailed descriptions of how badly I wanted to kick him in the shins daily. Then in March, Sam found out his family was moving to California at the end of the school year and something changed. It was like a switch turned on in my brain, as my once angry and evil Sam entries turned to writings that could definitely be categorized as "mushy" stuff. Upon the completion of another school year and our elementary school graduation, I had countless " I love Sam" entries in my journal not to mention the four rhyming poems that I had stayed up writing during a couple of late nights and through a few tears. In a last attempt to tell him how I felt before he left me for the sun and beaches of Orange County, I wrote Sam a letter. I told him that somewhere in between his rude comments about my jeans that were too short for my abnormally long legs and that one time that he hid my glasses behind the classroom fish tank for an hour, I had fallen in love with him. In the end, Sam moved away and the letter remained tucked safely inside my little red diary along with my feelings for him and thankfully, my dignity.

However, the sole reason I remember that I was the sixth grade tetherball champion for two weeks straight and the undying love I once had for Sam, is because, this week I read through all of my old journals. A friend of mine and a writer himself, recently told me that he was inspired when he reread a journal that he kept while living and traveling during a break from college. Some time after his love affair with Europe, hidden in the scribbles and run-on sentences of his documentation, he found great insight, vision and was prompted to write an award winning piece. He said looking back and reading all of his thoughts showed him truth and what he really wanted out of life.

Reading back through the long, very wordy and dramatic journals of my own, I too discovered something. And though reading about my ridiculous on-and-off again high school relationship will neither put me in a good more nor inspire me to write an award winning essay, there is something to be said about reflecting on the things that you thought you wanted at one point in your life.

Sifting through documentations of wild nights on the beach in college and descriptions of each of the new friends I was making, I saw myself being completely and utterly irresponsible, just because I could . All I ever desired in college was to be as care-free as possible, and on the way to that freedom, and somewhere along that coastline, I lost myself. As I read about the city lights and the money, the cars and the endless amount of blonde haired people, I could feel myself drifting in the opposite direction of where I actually wanted to be going in life. I wondered if I knew at the time how far from reality I had gone and if at any point, I was ever scared that I wouldn't be grounded again.

Fast forward to junior year and the time that I experienced the most growth. Reading through my journal from abroad I still can't help but be amazed at the things I was thinking and feeling. Sure there were the silly entries, unfortunate stories of two hundred dollar drunk dials to America from Hong Kong or nearly missing our ship in Egypt, having to borrow a cell phone from a woman in a burqa to call the Dean and beg for a ship full of 1,000 people to wait just for us. But amongst reading about the immature and somewhat dumb things we sometimes did while traveling, I read through moments of change, moments of awakening. I talked about the suffering I had seen and how much I had learned. I wrote about the changes I wanted to make in my life and I wrote about holding myself accountable. And as I read on, I realized that while I fell deeply in love with the world, I quickly was falling out of love with someone who was my world before I started the voyage.

I read through my senior year of college next and nearly shed tears when recounting the goodbyes with friends who had become family and my last and hardest goodbye to my life by the sea. I read through the year after college spent both in Germany and Seattle trying to find my place in a city, let alone in the world. Sentences about being lost, full of uncertainty, and so confused filled the pages as I watched myself come to the decision to move and venture away from home once again. Then I came across some of my most recent entries, comments about reinventing myself, reaching my full potential, and growing in a new city with new people. I felt sad as I realized how much I gave up in leaving, and how many people I left behind, yet so proud of myself for taking such a large leap of faith.

Finally, I stumbled upon a list of goals I had scribbled into my journal before arriving here in Denver and shook my head as I read over it. There amongst the "hold yourself accountable for the things you really want in life" and the "include your family in the move to Colorado so that you will always remain close and apart of each others lives daily", was this simple bullet point:

"Write in your journal more often because it is here that you are most honest with yourself."

Without thinking, I grabbed a pen and began writing. I wrote about my new house, my new roommate and the four guys that live next door. I wrote about the fall colors, my favorite coffee shop, and a good conversation had over a great bottle of wine on a random Tuesday night. And as I closed my newest journal and admired the old tattered ones, I was thankful. Thankful that I have documentation of where i've been, so that I can look back and understand where I am and why in the future. Thankful that my parents did not shank me when (and if) they ever read through my wild phase which I documented in far too much detail during high school. And most of all, thankful that the red Hello Kitty diary and the letter to Sam are still in my possession, not only because they help remind me of my days ruling the playground, but mostly because Sam is now the unmarried father of twins, and Lord only knows, I could not handle that.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Like No One is Watching.

"I think i'll just stick with water" I absentmindedly told the waiter as he collected our sushi order and headed towards the kitchen. Focusing my attention back to my roommate who sat directly across from me, I couldn't help but shake my head and smile.

"Wow. Last night." She smirked, still looking exhausted and a bit hungover from the previous nights activities. "Who knew Wednesday's could be so much fun?" she added as we discussed the accidental wild night spent singing and dancing through the streets of downtown Denver.

Conversation flowed from the first and probably much too strong vodka tonics had in our living room after work to the free shots that Isaac a bartender from New York gave us for being new to the city, in addition to his phone number on a cocktail napkin. We giggled about our ridiculous dance moves through an extremely packed night club that we happened to stumble upon late night then laughed when recalling our conversations with two women in their thirties who were captivated by our ability to not care. "You two truly are the definition of dance like no one is watching" one yelled into my ear over the loud music and deep base. At the time I didn't know how to take her comment and I merely gave her a brief and awkward "thanks "while shimmying away as quickly as possible.

"Do you think we need to do less?" I asked jokingly with a bit of a serious undertone. "Are you kidding me?" She responded quickly. "The absolute last thing I want to be in life is boring." And it was then that it hit me. Twirling through the streets bopping in and out of bars, singing a dirty version of Grease (that I never knew existed until Wednesday) at a karaoke bar and dancing the night away (with ourselves) are the literally anything but boring. Looking back, that thirty-something year old woman's words were the greatest compliment. If life is about the stories, then you must get out there and create some. And lord only knows I have some good stories to tell.

Sitting there at the sushi bar, still nursing slight headaches and queasy stomachs we decided something. The two of us decided that no matter how much we get caught up in our careers or in the routine of daily life, no matter how many years down the road, married with kids or not, we will never be boring. We will always learn the bartenders life story, sing karaoke if given the opportunity, and we will always, always dance like no one is watching.

As the waiter walked by once again, I grabbed his attention and called him over. "You know what" I said with a twinkle in my eye, "That house Chardonnay is looking pretty good right now, can we have two glasses?"

"Absolutely." he said and headed to the bar. And in that moment, our ordinary Thursday turned into something special, something extraordinary, and the night turned out to be the absolute furthest thing from boring.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Home Free.

There we were. The four of us. Best friends from high school and most likely for life. Staring at one another over a bottle of wine and a table full of overpriced appetizers. Twinkle lights above our heads gave off a warm glow, illuminating the alleyway and the patio where we sat. Though the scenery and the restaurant were new to us, the feelings were all too familiar.

"I hate goodbyes" she said softly, speaking into her half empty glass of red wine.

"Come on Riley!" I pleaded "we haven't even ordered dinner yet and you're already doing this?"

Two hours, a lot of laughs and a few mutual flirtations with our waiter later, we were standing on the street corner. "I'll be home soon" I said with uncertainty as the four of us embraced in a lengthy hug. Walking away from my three friends, friends who had seen me off to college in California, sent me away to a voyage of discovery on Semester at Sea, and waved goodbye as I boarded a plane to Germany, I couldn't help but feel the all too familiar pain in my heart as I realized I was leaving them once again.

Two weeks later, here I am. The sun is peaking through the trees whose leaves are rapidly changing from deep greens to bright golds. I am in a new city and a new state and I can't believe how quickly things have changed. Thinking back to dinner with my friends a few weeks ago, I can only focus on something Ashley said to me through bites of the best carrot cake we've ever had. "You're afraid to settle" she remarked as if it was the most obvious thing on earth.
Though I had no response then and probably still don't have the appropriate one now, I have come to the conclusion that I am not necessarily afraid to settle, I am merely not settling until I can't anymore.

For some reason or another I have instilled in me an urge to be free. To be free from commitment, from ties and an urge to free myself to experience as much as possible on my own. Or at least as much as I can until someone or something gives me a reason or excuse to do otherwise. So, though I have been running and experiencing and traveling and moving a great deal over the past year, this blog marks a new chapter in my life and a new story to be told. Here in Denver, Colorado I am pursuing a life I have never lived in a city I barely know. These are the stories of me letting myself go, letting myself free-fall into the unknown, and though many of these will probably not be shared with my grandchildren, I can only hope that like my past experiences, this next chapter of my life will continue to shape me into the person I will ultimately become.

And though I can't exactly promise Riley that there won't be anymore goodbye dinners in the future, I can promise that this chapter of my life and these stories will last a bit longer than the last, because though i've only been here a few days, it already is beginning to feel like home.