- There is no such thing as too much wine
- No matter what - your parents are your biggest support system
- Your grandmother is not as naive and innocent as you think. Thus, listen to her carefully and take her advice. Her life experiences trump yours - ten fold.
- A full house is a happy house. And a house full of family is a house full of love
- Those friends who come over to say hi to your family and end up staying for hours, are the ones who will stay with you forever. They're the ones who are part of your family themselves.
- Traditions are a way for us to confirm our deepest values as a family, as a community
- No matter how hard you try, your mom's pumpkin bread always tastes better than yours
- You are the purest, most real version of yourself around your family
- There is something comforting about sleeping in your old room, surrounded by old memories - even if it means accepting the fact that your room has literally been untouched by the sands time
- As you get older, catching up with your cousins feels like reconnecting with best friends
- Noticing more grey hairs and wrinkles on your parents is no longer amusing, as the weight of their aging begins to really sink in.
- Sharing a silent ride to the airport with your dad at 4 am is the best way to decompress and end a solid weekend at home
- That being happy to return to your city, your job, your own home - means you are in the right place at the right time. And that in itself, is something to be thankful for.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
When I moved to the mile high city a little over a year ago, I was the farthest thing from a brunch person. Coming from Seattle I was accustomed to grabbing a quick Starbucks coffee and a bagel (or a pumpkin loaf, if I was feeling wild) to go each and every day of the week. Maybe it was the great sense of urgency I felt living there, the constant state of rush, the hurry up and get it done mentality - but rarely did I ever find myself sitting down to eat my first meal of the day, weekend or not.
Denver though, is different. There must be something in the air here that causes people to slow their roll, embrace their hangover and show their faces in public for multiple hours over an eggs benedict and a bloody mary any given day of the week. And as hard as it was to get used to in the beginning- the mid-morning socializing, the fact that my body now rejects coffee as a hangover cure and only permits vodka, as well as coming to terms with looking heinous whilst being out in public in morning- I, after a year here have become quite the brunch connoisseur.
I knew I had made it as in the big leagues not too long ago when I realized that I was able to break brunch down into four categories, all of which I or someone that I am close to has had first hand experience with.
The First: "Rally The Troops" Brunch
It's Saturday morning. 9:30 am. There's three people asleep in your living room and your best friend is passed out next to you fully clothed wearing her boots and cross body purse. You hear people moving around in the kitchen and you know it's time. You call the neighbors with your eyes still closed and beg them to bring you coffee. They refuse. Vodka is coming out of your eyeballs and you begin to get the feeling of impending doom. "If i don't get to brunch right now, I just may not make it" you think to yourself. An hour and nine haggard friends later - you find yourself at an oversized circular table ordering rounds of water, diet cokes and a make it or break it bloody mary. Your waitress hates you all because she's equally as hungover but has it much worse than you do because she's working on a Saturday morning. You hate her because she won't split up the bill. You find yourself inhaling your meal and the meal of the person next to you, only to feel worse than ever before. But the gossip from the previous night keeps your spirits high and you order another bloody. "what the hell else? it's Saturday and we're at brunch" you think. Three hours and six rounds later you're back where you started- in your house, wanting nothing more then to be horizontal, for the rest of your life. It was a successful morning, now you must sleep and regain your strength to hit the town for the second night in a row.
The Second: "This is how we do it in Denver" Brunch
Recently my cousins came to visit me from guess where? Seattle. And in planning out our weekend together and their first time to D-Town, I made sure to put two brunches on the weekend itinerary. When family or friends come and you're trying to impress them - you must take matters seriously and make a reservation somewhere. In this case, I reserved a table for five at a local favorite. We would never dare hit up this place on any old Sunday, as the line is always out the door and when you're hungover the last thing you want to do is sit and stare at people chowing down on french toast, likewise i'm pretty sure the last thing that they want to do, is watch you try to keep your shit together while waiting in line. Anyways, this is the type of brunch where you show off the local cuisine and you say things like "Oh my gosh, the crab cake benedict is to die for!" or "you must try their french press coffee, it's outstanding". Regardless of whether you're feeling hungover or not, you keep it together for the sake of you visitors. You limit yourself to one mimosa - you've got the Coors brewery tour next anyways, and you order mini scones as a pre-brunch snack. "Everyone in Denver goes to brunch" you tell them, and Monday morning you get a text from one of them that reads "my bagel just didn't cut it this morning." Right?! because that's how we DO it in Denver.
The Third: "Why Am I Sitting Across From You Right Now" Brunch
Not too long ago at a "Rally the Troops" brunch, I was enjoying my third trip to the bloody mary bar when a guy walked in followed by a girl that was clearly in her clothes from the night before. "Sucks to be her" we all said as we watched them awkwardly converse and try to stuff down food as quick as possible. "Why do you think she agreed to go to brunch?" we pondered, then we spent the next hour playing the guessing game on what they were talking about and feeling really bad for the poor girl who was in stiletto's and sparkly top. I guess the only thing to say next here is Karma is a bitch, because recently I found myself in a similar situation. Our paths crossed during a day of drinking and football, too much of both actually. Had I actually brunched before we went to a bar to drink and watch the football game, maybe I wouldn't have found myself spending far too much time with a guy who was wearing a camo hat that said "gut deer?" on it. Why "gut deer?" you ask? He went to school in Montana, he can't help it. Not to mention there's something about camouflage that unfortunately, gets me every gdamn time. So there I was, ten am at a bar drinking a bloody mary and breaking bread with this guy. He was wearing the "gut deer?" hat. I was wearing a scarlet letter and my clothes from the night before, wondering how many people in the bar were placing bets on what our conversation was about. It was a nice gesture, to buy my brunch I mean. He really did not have to do that, and in retrospect I most definitely did not have to accept his invitation. But somehow, the experience shed a whole new light on this aspect of brunching. Thus - I am forever indebted to "gut deer?" and though he actually refused to give me his hat at the end of our 24 hour date, I doubt I will ever forget him and if anything, at least now I know what people talk about during these type of brunches.
The Last and Very Well Respected: Date Brunch
Contrary to the third type of brunch, people here in Denver do actually date over brunch. Take for example, my friend Jenny who went on a brunch date not too long ago herself. A reservation is definitely needed in these instances, as is looking presentable and not smelling like day old booze. She met him at a conference, and being the doctor that he is, mornings worked best with his schedule. Thus, the brunch and the first and last of it's kind for those two. Though I was initially really perplexed by his early morning date offer, I now have come to the realization that morning dates may be the best kind. I mean, it's bright outside, there's natural light and you see things and people for what they really are, nothing is hidden by dimly lit corners, sexy candlelight or red wine. Also, your brain is freshest in the morning, making conversation easier and giving you the potential to seem smarter then you actually are. I've seen them before, these so called brunch dates. Two people, dressed cute yet casual, laughing and sharing a frittata and a seared egg sandwich, discussing their jobs, their dreams, their lives. They always look happy and for the most part genuinely interested in each other, and though I have yet to go on a brunch date of this kind - I get the appeal. And though it did not work out for Jenny and the shorty doctor that she met mid-conference in Kansas, I appreciate the change up and her attempt at early morning, completely sober conversation.
In conclusion, perhaps the best part about brunching is the fact that you're surrounded by people that all fall into one of these four categories. Someone is being rowdy in a corner, someone is showing off, another person is trying desperately to hide their face and that couple in the corner is falling in love over cappuccino's. And as a connoisseur now, I would have to say that being in one of these categories sure beats the hell out of getting a luke warm coffee, a half-toasted bagel, and a simple "good morning" on your daily Starbucks run. And that's how it's done in Denver.
Monday, November 7, 2011
The Latin Lover
I was 16 and had been chosen as a delegate from my hometown to attend a international leadership conference in Washington D.C. the summer before my junior year of high school. I had been to both the city and statewide versions of the conference and while spending a week sans parents in the Nation's capital sounded fairly enticing- I couldn't imagine giving up an entire week of my summer with my friends and the 19 crushes I was pursuing at that time. After quite a few back and forth arguments with my mom, I agreed to take part in this "resume builder" and got on my first solo plane ride across the country.
It was just after the opening ceremony on the first night during one of many 'dances' at the conference, that I spotted him. "Umm that guy is staring at you" Dana from Georgia said as I returned the favor and flashed him my best sixteen year old version of a geisha glare. He was standing across the room surrounded by a posse of Puma wearing, dark haired and brown skinned friends, just staring at me. I guess you could say it was love at first sight and despite the extremely difficult language barrier, we spent the rest of the week wrapped up in each other's company. His name was Alfredo and he was a soccer player from Mexico, sent by his own school to better his English and represent his country. Alfredo and I spent hours together, post-conference sessions, just being together. I would watch him school his buddies in soccer and he would listen to me intently as I desperately tried to explain to him what fettucini alfredo is and why his name was so funny to me. At the end of our seven days in D.C. we had one final formal dance. Alfredo showed up at my door with flowers and a TY beanie baby dog, asking to escort me to the event. "He loves you, I can see it in those eyes" my roommate Shira from Israel said.
And, well it turns out he did. Or at least he said he did. That night Alfredo and I danced 'til dawn, we stayed up until my early morning flight in the dorm hallway holding hands, kissing and trying to make sense of our whirlwind romance and the deep feelings that had come from it. Upon my return home, I had 17 love interests waiting to be pursued and the flame that burned between Alfredo and I faded with time. He frequently expressed his feelings for me via AIM for months after the conference and I often times led him to believe that I still felt the same, though I really had no intention of trying to make an international relationship work, especially before Skype was even on anyone's radar.
Alfredo called me the summer after I graduated college, proving two things. One - yes, I still have the same phone number that I did when I was 16. And two, I found myself thinking that his love really was endless- that when he said he would never stop loving me, he meant it. It was endearing and made me feel needed, unforgettable even. That is, until last year when I hadn't heard from him in a while. I had been going through a dry spell and needed a little positive affirmation that I was still on someones (anyones) mind, so I bit the bullet and reached out to Alfredo via Facebook just to say hi, see how he was and to maybe check to see if the love was still there. I dont exactly know what I was expecting him to say, after all- it had been years. I guess I should have seen it coming when to my dismay, Alfredo wrote me back a four line message only to say that he was seeing someone new, they were in love and that he wished me a nice life. Right...he really let me down easy that Alfredo, and that was when I told myself that the language barrier we once encountered as love struck high schoolers, still existed.
The High School not-so Sweetheart
I met Dan at youth group during high school. Being the party loving jock that he was, i'm fairly certain his parents forced him to go every Wednesday and even more so- forced him to attend the spring break mission trip to Tijuana. We were in the same housing group in Mexico and became infatuated with each other while building a home for a family of four that greatly needed one. It was real love that we created while spending nights talking in the courtyard at the orphanage where we were staying. I say it was real because at the time, I had cornrows and neither of us had showered for the better part of a week. We were vulnerable, broken by the reality of the circumstances around us, we were open to the experience, to emotion and to each other. I loved the way he interacted with the kids at the building site and he loved watching me try to hammer something together, most always failing. We became inseparable that week and upon our return home, immediately began dating. Time passed, and unfortunately Mexico became a mere memory, the feelings became harder to conjure and with the pressures of modern day high school we began to encounter problems that any typical high school couple faces on the reg. He would drink and make out with other girls, I would drink and send him hate/breakup text messages, only to get back together with him days later. We struggled daily to get back to the place where we had started, to the realness we felt in Mexico and one rainy night we met in a parking lot, both knowing full well what was coming. We sat in my green Jetta and sighed as we both finally accepted the inevitable - it was over, we were done. And as he got out of my car to head home he said "I love you and always will". It was the first time he had ever said those words in such a way and for a moment I saw a glimmer of hope. Unfortunately, that glimmer was short lived and I don't know why exactly I was the least bit surprised to hear that he had sucked face with some hussy that night at a party only hours after our break up and his confession of love, while I most definitely was simultaneously drowning my sorrows in a bucket of peanut butter and chocolate ice cream and a chick flick on my couch.
I went away to college soon after that and though our communication was sparse, it still existed at times. That is-until I got word that he had a new girlfriend, quit drinking and became the committed boyfriend that I had always wanted him to be. Dan sent me his personal statement to edit one day during my first semester at college, signing the email "can you edit this for me? love ya girl" and I edit it I did - rewriting everything and fixing the thousand or so grammatical errors found on the first page alone. I mailed it back to him, including a personal statement of my own, and never heard from him again. It's been six years since then and while I sometimes wonder where he ended up or who he loves now, I mostly just wonder if he used the personal statement that I wrote for him to get into his dream school.
The One That Went Away.
"You're going to be an actress someday Miss America" he used to say to me when we were riding through the orchards and hop vines in his white pick up truck. "You show all of your emotion through your eyes" he'd say smiling at me from the drivers side, chewing on his ever present toothpick. I would giggle and ask him if we could stop to pick an apple before heading home. Summertime was our time. Every year, my parents would drive me the three hours to my grandparents farm in central Washington only to leave me there for weeks at a time. It was during these summer visits that my grandpa taught me everything about life and it was during those life lessons, that I loved him the most. He calmed me, he brought me back down to earth and he showed me that shared silence is powerful and more importantly, okay. We would drive through the hills, monitoring the harvest and sharing our favorite- peanut butter and honey sandwiches in complete silence. He would stop at the lake so I could run out my energy, then we'd head to his bird sanctuary to check on the soon to be hatched eggs before returning home for dinner. We would watch TV together, and plan out my life.
Though we were close, my grandfather rarely told me he loved me, or anyone for that matter really. As much of a softy as he was, he had a hard time expressing his feelings and was very intentional when he did. When he got sick we made the all too familiar trek to the farm to visit him in the hospital. True to form, he made me laugh as I walked in the door, making faces at me and smiling through the tube that was placed down his throat. He communicated at that time through writing on a white board that was on the nightstand in his hospital room and while I was visiting we would play tic tac toe and draw pictures of the freaky nurse that was tending to him. But it was on the last day of my visit, just before I left that I told him how much I loved him and that I would see him soon. He then grabbed his mini white board and wrote "I love you always Miss America".
Weeks later, I gave the eulogy at his funeral. A young girl shaking at the microphone, I spoke to friends, workers and our extremely large family, reminding them of all the incredible attributes my grandfather possessed. Losing him was like losing a piece of myself, and I always wonder if he'd be proud of me today, if still thinks I should be an actress and if he could still read my emotion through my eyes.
*Though these three boys don't talk to me anymore by choice or by circumstance, they are all still very much a part of me. Whether they think of me on a random day and care what I am doing or not, or whether they even remember the time in their lives that they loved me, I remember them. Our timing may have been off or cut short, but at one time they made me happy and at one time they told me exactly the exact words that I needed to hear.
Monday, October 10, 2011
"Left foot... Right foot... Left foot..... Right foot..." I told myself on repeat as my feet continuously pounded the pavement, keeping time with my thoughts. "Dear God, how is she passing me right now?" I thought - interrupting my own inner dialogue and watching as a sixty year old woman sprinted off into the distance, weaving in and out of the steady stream of runners ahead of me.
If there's one thing i've learned about running 13.1 miles in a half-marathon, as I did for the first time yesterday, it's that a person really thinks about some weird shit while running long distances. Perhaps these bizarre thoughts can be attributed to the fact that you do anything you can to keep your mind from thinking about the pain that you are voluntarily inflicting on yourself, or maybe it's that you actually can get bored and need to entertain yourself when spending two and a half hours of your day putting one foot in front of the other. Regardless of the reason, during my run yesterday, I found myself experiencing some pretty interesting conversations with myself. For example, in between mile 3 and 4 the only thing I could focus my thoughts on, was what I wanted to eat post race. The battle between breakfast and lunch raged on in my mind as I ran through the streets of downtown Denver, contemplating whether or not my stomach could actually handle the large quantities of food I was daydreaming of. "Left foot... Right foot... Left foot... Right foot"
Between mile 6 and 7 I pondered what it would be like to be friends with Florence of Florence + The Machine, as her unique voice pulsed through my headphones and into my ears, filling my head with a beat that my feet kept time to. "Well, i'd for sure have to be trendier" I thought recalling a recent photo shoot of her I had seen, "and I'd really need to expose myself to the indie music scene a bit more before we could even begin to have a conversation, oh and I hope she's not a vegetarian". As the song continued and the mile drug on, my train of thought drifted from weekends spent hanging out with Flo and a few other undisclosed celebs in NYC, to me somehow playing a large role in her upcoming tour and finally, just when I was getting far too ahead of myself, the song ended, a new one started and I was left with the realization that not only will Florence never be in my wedding, I don't even know enough about her to want to be friends with her. "Left foot... Right foot..."
Now, contrary to the way I'm making myself sound here, i've never been much of a runner. Besides my brief cross-country stint during the latter part of elementary school, running has just never been my thing. And to be honest, after all the training, the stretching and the emotion of finishing my first half-marathon, running still really isn't my thing. In fact, yesterday as I pushed through mile 9 into mile 10, I was actually damning myself for making the decision to tackle such a feat. "Why in God's name did you sign up for this?" I asked myself as I slammed a dixie cup of water and tossed it to the ground. I then began to make a mental list all of things I would rather be doing, some of which included: sleeping, eating, drinking copious amounts of booze, stabbing a dull pencil into my eyeball, etc. And just when I thought I couldn't go on, just when I was reaching my breaking point, mile 11 came. "Left foot... Right foot...."
It was circa the time that my legs started to go numb and my hands starting cramping from the cold, that I reached a moment of clarity. Everything around me fell away, the people, the sounds, and all that was left was my mind and the road. And then, the real thinking began. I thought about Denver as the sun reflected off of buildings and danced across the mountain tops. "I can't believe i've been here a year" I thought, as I recalled pulling up to our house for the first time a year ago to date. Floods of memories from the past year overcame me. I then let the city sink in, basking in all the good it has given me. From a real-world job, to a place to call home with neighbors that I now call family. As I embarked on the 12th mile, reaching the brink of physical exhaustion, I began to clap along with the beat to the music in my ear. A smile took over my face as I came to some pretty sound and very personal realizations. Coming upon a group of people cheering runners on, I responded to their support by throwing my arms in the air and quickly spinning around. Seeing the finish line in the distance, I let go of the "left foot... right foot..." in my ear and let my body do exactly what it pleased. I found myself jogging, skipping and even dancing. I crossed the finish line, arms high above my head and smiled as I fell into the embrace of three great friends, fellow runners, and people who have my made experience here in the mile high city what it is. "We did it." I said, tears in my eyes. And as we stood there hugging each other and taking it all in, I let one final thing cross my mind before the breakfast vs. lunch debate consumed me once again.
I thought about everyday life, I thought about how we constantly put one foot in front of the other, left foot then right foot. Everyday, we carry on and we push forward anyway we know how to. Then I challenged myself right then and there to create new things in between the steps. "Add some twirls, a few dance steps and a couple jumps" I told myself, as I stood in awe of what I had just accomplished.
Today, left with an extremely sore right knee and some fairly blistered feet, I am also left with one giant take-away. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined finishing something like I did yesterday. Moving to a new city, finding a new group of friends, starting a job and making a life for myself all took time. And at the year mark for me here in Denver, at a time when I am finally comfortable, I have done it again. I have thankfully found a way to mix things up, to challenge myself and I have tackled something unimaginable to me before my life began here. It's been a great year, an incredible 365 days and a thousand new unbelievable stories written. With another year's lease signed, my story here continues - one foot in front of the other, left foot... right foot... twirl.... left foot... right foot.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
"Joy comes from that bliss of connectedness, you can feel it deep inside you, it's a wonderful feeling. And you know it when you get it, you don't get it from money, you get it from connection."
-John Perkins via Gary Carrier
Monday, September 26, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
"Oh what the hell?" I said aloud as I swerved into the next lane over. Taking an immediate left into the parking lot, I checked my wallet for cash. "Just enough" I thought before opening the car door and heading inside.
"What are you crazy girls up to tonight?" the all too familiar man behind the counter inquired with a sly smile. "Not much " I replied as I headed to the back left corner of the store, per usual. "It's actually just me tonight".
" You don't want to try the newest batch of that local stuff you girls love?" he asked as I placed my item for purchase on the counter. "Mmm, not this time" I answered as I placed six dollars and forty two cents on the counter.
Back home in our quiet house, I started to put together what would add up to be my dinner for the evening. Throwing random vegetables into a salad and of course, burning my only piece of chicken left, I couldn't wait to be done in the kitchen. Sitting down at the table I realized something was missing. "Ah, yes.... the wine" I thought. Giving myself the hefty pour of six dollar and forty two cent Chardonnay that I felt I deserved, I returned to our dining room table and settled in to the night and in to the silence.
It is rare to have a summer night alone in our house. Between happy hours and kickball games, working late and dinner dates, concerts in the park and random but always welcomed visits from friends and neighbors, our summer has been the way it should be- packed full of friends, sunshine and way too many late nights.
Finishing up what was salvageable of the meal I had prepared, I went back for seconds. Skipping over the unfortunately charred chicken and heading straight for the chilled white wine, I realized the weight of the situation at hand. So rare is it that I am completely alone for a night in the house, that I could not even remember the last time it had happened. "You deserve this" I told myself as I poured yet another glass of the good stuff. Falling into the sofa, I looked around the room. A pair of neon sunglasses were sitting forgotten on the record player, left over from the costume my roommate wore during the incredible win we pulled out in kickball the night before. A bottle of "after-sun" lotion rested on the window sill, just begging to be reapplied to my sunburnt skin and brutally reminding me that never again will I spend an adventurous weekend camping and boating at 10,000 feet in the mountains sans sunscreen. Our summer bucket list lay crinkled on the trunk that doubles as our coffee table, half of its contents crossed off, causing me to smile and be happy that we are actually getting somewhere with the list this summer.
As I sipped the wine, I soaked it all in. All of it. From the first signs of summer and the bbq we tried to have before it was even warm enough to be outside, to the concert at Red Rocks that we barely remember. From the much needed family vacation, to the many nights spent on our favorite local rooftop, the Ale House. Summer was flying by and I still had so many things to process. I thought about turning 24 and how with every year that passes, regardless of my setbacks and downfalls, I feel myself becoming the person that I am meant to be. I thought about my 25th birthday and the lease I had recently signed, committing me to yet another action-packed year and another birthday celebrated in this house, on this street. I contemplated the repercussions of my own aging in comparison to the aging of my parents who are reaching the point of retirement bliss and who are, with every day, happily becoming more grey. I smiled a sad smile when I thought of my grandmother, in her room resting her eyes, realizing that she is probably still recovering from the Alaskan cruise she took my entire family on in early July. And as a tear fell into my glass, I came to terms with the fact that that family vacation with her, was probably the last of its kind. And I thought about the people I hadn't know for so long, the people that I had just met in the first half of the summer, from dinner dates to new co-workers, bartenders to new neighbors, summer seems to bring out the friendly in people and I was comforted in the fact that we still have a good two months of friendliness left before the fall ensues.
Closing my eyes, I let the sunset and the silence engulf me and I couldn't help but feel as if the night came to me on purpose. It came to me when I needed to slow down, when I needed to think. It came to me so I could process what had happened and what is to come in the next sun filled weeks. And as I turned out the porch lights a few hours later, thankful that no surprise visitors had popped by, I was so content with the date I had just had with myself that I made plans for a second one.
Rarely is it that we schedule time for ourselves. Time to sit. Time to drink a glass of wine and let your mind wander. Time to be. And it was in the me time on that night that I promised myself if I ever found six dollars in my wallet on a quiet evening, regardless of the season, I would buy a bottle of wine, cook myself some dinner and take the time to get lost in my thoughts, in my memories, and in a good glass of wine.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
"You never did like to be tied down, did you?" his text today read. And as my eyes skimmed over the words, I was immediately taken back to a moment. A moment on the beach at sunset. A blanket, a picnic basket and quite a few tears. "I just can't do it right now" I said. "I knew it." he replied. "That's all I needed you to tell me". The next day he was on a flight home, he was gone. And I, I was free.
Though this conversation on the beach happened over three years ago, my conversation with him today made me realize how much of me has changed, yet how much of me is still the same. You see, my freedom, my independence, the very thing that has brought me so many adventures and experiences in my lifetime, is the same thing that has for years, pushed people away. My ability to be free is one of my greatest qualities and one of my worst. It is initially what attracts people to me and in the end, it is what drives them away. It is the push and shove, the back and forth, the eventual and often times expected, "I'm not ready".
I'm not ready to be with you, i'm not ready to take this job, i'm not ready to stay here, to settle, to start a life. I'm never ready. Yet his text message got me thinking... when will I be ready? At what point in my life will I stop running, stop moving, slow down and start something that will last, and last forever?
As my six month mark at my job has come and gone and my year mark here in the Mile High City inches closer, I wonder if i'm making progress (if it can even be called that). I wonder if i'm taking steps in the direction towards slowing down and finding myself through establishing a life in one place rather than discovering bits and pieces of myself while constantly being on the move. I wondered, how the words of someone who knew me better than myself so long ago, yet barely knows me today, could have such an affect on my thoughts and feelings after this much time has passed.
"How the hell does he know whether or not i'm ready to be tied down, it's been three years since then" I thought to myself, reading too far into his words and letting his statement weigh on my mind and on my heart. Yet after some serious thinking outloud with my roommate and even more soul searching within, I have come to the conclusion that when push actually comes to shove, i'm still not there. I knew what I was letting go of that night on the beach and as hard as it was then, I still stand by my decision today. And while he is building a house and a home with someone else, giving life to her dreams, I am still giving life to my own dreams, learning myself, learning the world and absolutely not letting myself be tied down.... Just yet.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Sometimes all it takes is a little mud on our boots and a few days in the country, with good people, great food and no cell phone service to ground us and remind us that most often, it is the simple things in life that are truly the most rewarding.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
"Alright Sparky... make sure you meet with your new insurance agent, sign all of those forms I sent you and PLEASE do your research to find a good, reputable doctor in the area" my father said as he wrapped up his lecture. "Well, getting old is the absolute worst" I replied before telling him that I loved him and hanging up the phone.
Looking at all of the important documents sitting in front of me, I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed. As I thumbed through my benefits package, signing on the appropriate lines (which were conveniently flagged with post-it notes thanks to my mother, whom I over-nighted the packet to for advice and direction the week before), I felt as if a part of my youth was swirling quickly down the drain. "When did it reach this point?" I thought, trying to remember the days when I didn't have to worry about license plate renewals or 401K plans.
Putting down my pen, I looked up into the mirror in our living room. "Am I getting wrinkles???" I asked myself as I inched closer to my reflection, scanning the person in front of me, searching for any sign of crows feet or grey hairs. When I had sufficiently covered the entire front of my head, looking for signs of greying, I took a step back and really looked at myself.
Before me stood a young woman. A person who was well traveled, well educated and someone who is just reaching the brink of her greatness. A girl who is still trying to pinpoint what it is exactly that makes her the happiest, but a woman who is well on her way to knowing where she wants to be in life. I stared into her eyes and into the depths of her soul, acknowledging the struggles it took to get her to this place, to this point in life. And I smiled as I realized that the hints of crows feet next to her eyes are merely pure reflections of the number of times she has laughed, cried and smiled in her lifetime thus far.
Sitting back down at the table I looked again at the paperwork in front of me. "I feel old, but I still feel so young" I thought as I signed my life away, glancing at my fluorescent pink nail polish and terrible grey on grey attire.
As I climbed in to bed later, I realized that it wasn't just the influx of serious paperwork that brought on this minor freak out. Tomorrow I turn 24 years old. And while I feel like I am still that young girl who wears pink nail polish, running around with a side ponytail and not a care in the world, I am beginning to realize the power in the wisdom that comes with age. It has been amazing to me to see how fast time flies and how quickly things in life can change. I am looking forward to my twenty fourth year as I am sure it will bring great success both personally and professionally, regardless of the fact that I am one step closer to getting off of my parents' insurance plan and that much closer to my quarter life crisis, which is sure to come on the eve of my 25th birthday. I am not only confident in where I am in my life, what I am doing and the direction that I am headed, but I am certain that I will make room for change and the adaptation that will come with each year ahead. And most importantly, I am comforted in knowing that I don't have everything figured out yet. Because like my benefits package, my search for a new doctor and a new Colorado drivers license, I am still naive, inexperienced and in my opinion, young. And to be honest, that is perfectly alright with me.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
"So.... I don't get it. What's the issue?"
I could just picture her, worlds away, staring at her computer screen, sitting in a comfy chair or maybe even snuggled up in a cozy bed, tea on the nightstand, her glasses resting on the tip of her nose. "Well I don't really know" I quickly typed back, "It's just something different. I don't know what I'm doing and I'm feeling shy about it." After a brief pause she began typing a message, the words popped up on my screen, and as I began to read over them I instantly felt better.
"Things come in surprising ways" she concluded after a ten minute back and forth debate about letting go and giving in to the experience of something new and unknown. And as I minimized our conversation window, staring at the list of tasks I had yet to accomplish at work, I felt a wave of sadness rush over me. Of course I was sad because I miss her everyday, but the feelings ran a bit deeper than that on this particular afternoon in the office.
Scanning over the photos hanging up in my cubicle memories of elephant rides in Thailand, late nights drinking wine in Florence and long bus rides across India, I realized that stepping out of your comfort zone is extremely easy to do when you actually are already out of your comfort zone. In traveling, you never know what will come your way and it is quite normal to expect the unexpected as everyday is a new adventure and another chance to try something different. Here in my new-found "young professional" life however, new adventures are hard to come by considering the most unexpected and exciting thing that occurs in my day is when a co-worker surprises us with a box of doughnuts. Don't get me wrong, I love my new job and I really love a good old fashioned doughnut every once in a while, but trading in my jeans and boots for blazers and a nice pair of flats somehow also meant trading in my spontaneity for routine and familiarity, only putting my wander-lusting tendencies on hold for the time being.
My thoughts drifted to my dear friend, living and working in Europe, learning languages, learning love and learning herself. It had always been me giving her the advice before now, sending her emails from the middle of the ocean or a quick text message in between flights. "Let go" i'd tell her, "you don't have to have all the answers now, they'll come to you. Be patient and trust the process". And now, today here we are, and it is her giving me the advice. It is me that needs her words and reassurance.
"What have you got to lose?" she said before signing off and heading to bed. Contemplating her statement, I assessed the situation. "What do I really have to lose?" I thought. Nothing. "Miss you everyday. And thank you. I needed that." I responded quickly before refocusing my attention on my afternoon of meetings and projects.
When I got home from work that day I got to thinking. I thought about the crazy adventures that she will have this weekend in a foreign city, turning strangers into friends and opening every door within herself to the opportunity of experience. I thought about the ways in which I too have been open to new people, cultures and ideas in the past and I wondered, why is it that just because i've developed a routine, I am closing myself to new and different experiences of my own within my new life? Just because I pack my lunch every morning, sit in traffic and classify myself as a young professional, doesn't mean I can't seek out opportunities to get to know someone or to open myself to uncharted territories within this city. "Things come in surprising ways" she told me from oceans away, and though I may not be staring at the Alps or learning Italian, just waiting for some incredible new adventure to fall into my lap, I know that she is right, and I've never been more grateful for places that we are both in at this moment.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
It's raining here. And when it rains, I am reminded of Seattle. I am reminded of afternoons when I would pass the time just sitting on our overstuffed red couch, listening to slow, sad songs while watching the rain fall. It would fall for hours, for days, for weeks. Eternities would pass without even a glimpse of sun and then, when I thought I just couldn't go on and the misery of the grayness almost swallowed me whole, the sun would peak through, illuminating our apartment, awakening souls in the city, and restoring faith in the coming of summer. When these little glimmers of light would come, flowers would bloom, people would emerge from their hibernation and I would fall in love with the city all over again. I fell hard for the way the sun danced across the water, the way everything seemed to glow and above all else, the way the cherry blossoms exploded in bloom, opening their arms wide, as if to say "Finally". It is that in-between time in Seattle now. The time that warrants buckets full of rain and the occasional sliver of sunlight. And as I watch the rain fall here in Denver with slow, sad songs playing in the background, I can't help but wonder if it's also raining in Seattle, if the drops are hitting the pavement hard or softly and of course, if the cherry blossoms are in bloom.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Breathe. Go to yoga. Paint your nails. Dress trendy. Dress terribly. Learn the city. Drink good coffee. Become a regular. Love your job. Hate your job. Know your neighbors. Redecorate your room. Find new music. Sit outside. Plan a trip. Take a trip. Wear red lipstick. Go to happy hour. Call old friends. Make new friends. Pay the bills. Pay it forward. Grocery shop. Sit in silence. Date just to date. Buy new shoes. Rent old movies. Grow a garden. Make big plans. Flirt with strangers. Create a home. Create a life. Burn a candle. Wear bright colors. Read a book. Write a book. Drink red wine. Watch the news. Better your friends. Better yourself. Laugh out loud. Call your parents. Break a glass. Break your heart. Go for drives. Talk all night. Challenge yourself. Paint your nails. Go to yoga. Breathe.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
"And any last parting words?" I asked as I slipped him a twenty dollar bill and stepped out of the cab.
"just do what you need to do to better yourself" he replied as he printed my receipt, gave me a wink and wrapped up one of the most honest conversations i've had in a long time.
"thank you... for everything." I replied as I emerged from the car and headed towards my warm bed. Slipping on my pajamas and recapping the night I thought about him, his family and the reasons why he moved to Colorado in comparison to the reasons why I did.
"Do what you need to do to better yourself" he had said in response to my question and a ten minute conversation about life. And at the end of a long day, a long night and five complete months in the mile high city, that was enough for me to hear. More than enough.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
This past weekend my roommate and I were feeling crafty. It started in the morning and the feeling continued to get stronger throughout the day. Thoughts of painting, photographing and even knitting were thrown around until mid-afternoon when I remembered something that I have been wanting to do for a long time. "Lets make dream boards" I said as we roamed the aisles of Target, looking for something, anything to grab our attention and occupy our time for the evening.
A short while later there we were. Sprawled out across our hardwood living room floor sharing a pair of scissors, a glue stick and a bottle of white wine. We laughed while reviewing the supplies we had to work with, a combination of old health and fashion magazines and two extremely trendy furniture catalogs. "This could get interesting" my roommate sighed as she began cutting her first piece out of last season's In Style.
As I began to flip through the books, cutting out pieces of my own, I thought about all the things I want out of my life. I started daydreaming about all the traveling I will do, the books I will read (or write) and the people that I will spend my time with. And with each turn of the page I found an image or a phrase that fit perfectly into my dream life. With every cut I added a new element to my future, and I realized that though I'm not getting any younger, my dreams just keep getting bigger and bigger.
Later that night, after our wine was long gone and our fingers were sore from cutting, we stepped back and admired each other's boards. "How'd you find that word?" I whined. "Why is yours cuter than mine?" she responded back. Only after a brief debate and concluding that both of our boards were equally as wonderful, we sunk into our white couch, relaxing and assessing the mess we had made. Paper scraps and thumb tacks covered the floor, while empty stemless wine glasses perched on our make shift coffee table. "I can't clean this tonight" she said as her mouth opened wide with a yawn. Grabbing our dream boards we headed to our rooms feeling both accomplished and fatigued. After hanging my board and getting comfy, I lay in bed staring at my work of art. It was then that I wondered how many of those dreams will actually come true. How many times over the next few months or years will I look at the board, and how many times will I update and add to it? And as I drifted off to sleep I wondered about that night and if during my sleep I would in fact, live out my reality and dream big.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Sometimes the city lights and busy life are all-consuming, making it easy to forget the beauty that lies a short drive West. Last weekend however, was spent rediscovering that beauty by cuddling up next to the perfect fire, skiing the perfect conditions, and sipping on the most perfect tasting early morning coffee all while getting lost in the breath taking views and the crisp air of Breckenridge, Colorado. Reminding me of the fact that here, you really don't have to go far to find clarity, peace of mind and as an added bonus, some pretty incredible skiing.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
"Do you girls have any tea?" he asked as he shut the door in a hurry. It was the coldest night of the year in Denver thus far, one of those that only calls for chili, cornbread and a cozy blanket on the couch. Stepping into our living room, he waved while the two of us shook our heads trying to suppress our laughter. As he removed his fleece lined Crocks, shaking snow from the bottom of his pajama pants and pulling his plaid old man robe closer to his body, I smiled and stood to get our neighbor his tea. "Looking good Logan" I said five minutes later emerging from the kitchen with three mugs and a pot of hot water.
"What are you girls up to tonight?" he asked as he sipped on the honey vanilla tea. "Paying bills" my roommate answered in the gloomiest of voices. "It's the worst" I added as we began calculating how much we owed and how much debt we were both about to be in. Conversation then flowed from cutting down on happy hours or trips to San Diego to winning the lotto, to writing a book, to inventing something miraculous, to anything that could possibly put us ahead of our expenses instead of behind.
"Well girls, I'm off to bed. This head cold has really got me feeling under the weather" he said a while later as I breathed a sigh of relief after my mouse clicked, paying the last bill of the month. "God, we're broke" I said aloud as my computer screen went black and I fell back into the cushions of the couch and the comfort of a cozy blanket.
"See you tomorrow" he said as he opened the door to leave. Then turning back, he left us on the couch with these words to ponder: "You know girls, you may be young and broke but don't stress, there's nothing wrong with that. The real problems and stress will come if you're old and broke. And thank God, we've got years until then."
Sunday, January 30, 2011
7:03 AM. Desperately, I reach for my phone trying to rid my ears of the terrible wailing that is my alarm. Eyes still closed, I curse the day and the start of yet another week. 7:19 AM. Emerging from the shower, I open my eyes for the first time and acknowledge my roommates presence with a simple head nod. It is far too early for words, let alone conversation and as I head back to my room I nearly trip over a pair of heels left on the floor from the previous Friday night out on the town. "UGH! I should've cleaned my room yesterday" I think as I scold myself and try to figure out what exactly I did with my weekend. 7:42 AM. "Coffee's ready" I hear from the other room and as I head to the kitchen I catch a glimpse of the sun rising over the the bare trees on our street. 7:51 AM. Finishing my cereal, I wave goodbye to my roommate as she heads out the door for work, "have a good day" she yells as the door closes behind her. 7:58 AM. Gathering my things and slipping on my shoes, I am just about out the door myself, until I realize my car keys are missing from my purse. Running back inside, I frantically scan my room only to find the missing sons of bitches on the floor under my nightstand of all places.
8:01 AM. Locking the door behind me I shove my lunch into my purse and when I look up my heart skips a beat. Catching my breath for a second I stare straight ahead, there he is. It is a rare occurrence to see him in the mornings. Walking down Hooker Street in his black peacoat, hair perfectly groomed and dark sunglasses which hide his mysterious eyes. "Hey" I say quietly forcing myself to maintain eye contact as I briefly pass him on the sidewalk. "Good morning" he replies with a smile as he continues on down the street. Bee-lining for my car, I am breathing heavily and my fingers may or may not be trembling as I dial my roommates number. "What did I forget today?" she asks as she picks up her phone. "I saw him" I say quickly, cutting her off. "What?! No way you are so lucky!" she whines, and as we converse about what he was wearing, how he looked and the words that were exchanged, I pull off of Hooker street and catch one last glimpse of him as he boards the city bus, briefcase in hand.
He was first discovered about a month after we moved into our house in Denver. My roommate was leaving for work at the exact moment that he was passing by. They exchanged short greetings and after she got into her car I immediately received a phone call, which seems to be the trend for us whenever he is spotted. After many weeks playing the guessing game about his career, his marital status and the exact location of his house, we decided to name him. It was a crisp fall day and we were walking home from picking up a loaf of bread at our local bakery when the subject of him came up. "What do you think his name is?" she asked as we turned the corner onto our block. Ten minutes and a whole lot of terrible ideas later, we settled on Jackson. Jack for short.
Since that initial first encounter he had with my roommate, the Jack run-ins have occurred five or six times, mostly in the mornings at almost exactly 8 AM (which actually works really well as inspiration to get out the door on time daily), but once I swear, I saw him in all his glory walking home from the bus stop shortly before 6 PM on a Wednesday.
"What do you think he thinks of us?" I asked my roommate the other night over dinner. "Do you think he wonders about our lives, the status of our relationships and guesses what our names could possibly be? I wonder if he thinks my name is something awful like Trudence?" Later that night as I was lying in bed Jack somehow made his way into my thoughts. I began pondering strangers and how many people you encounter daily that you really truly know nothing about. I thought of the mechanic who fixed my tail light and the woman I spoke with on the phone for thirty minutes regarding our cable bill, realizing that a great deal of our daily life is spent talking to, looking at and sitting next to strangers.
Take for example sitting next to someone on an airplane. On a recent flight to San Diego my roommate and I watched in disbelief as two complete strangers sitting in front of us engaged in not only small talk, but deep, raw and real conversation that ultimately led to the exchange of phone numbers at the end of our flight and what we are certain has become a "happily ever after story", all starting with two strangers in row 11 on flight number 608. On the other hand however, I remember junior year of high school and the stranger that I passed daily in the hallways between second and third period. He was new to the school, a transplant from Canada who was hired to play for the minor league hockey team in town and somehow sent by some evil force to absolutely torture me (or at least I like to believe so). I mean, I was in like, lust and love all at the same time and I didn't even know the first thing about him. He was my "perfect stranger", but being the naive teenager I was, I couldn't be happy leaving it at just that. After months of working my way into his social scene, sneaking out to too many late night hockey parties with my best friend and finally getting the chance to talk to him, to ask all the questions that I had been dying to have answered, I realized... he was terrible. He was dumb and miserable. An absolute jerk and someone I would not want to spend my any of my time with, let alone the rest of my life as I had so often dreamt about when he was still mysterious and unknown.
And thus, the beauty and the beast in getting to know a stranger, sometimes they can turn into your prince charming, your best friend or your greatest teacher. Yet other times you can be left empty, disappointed and feeling like the worst judge of character in the world. Hence the reason after much thought and internal debate, I have ultimately decided to keep Jack a stranger, the most perfect stranger. His mystery gives me something to contemplate, to get excited about and to look forward to on cold Monday mornings at 8AM. And as my roommate and I continue to wonder how long he rides the bus each morning before he reaches his stop, who if anyone he is going home to, and of course (though we find the one we came up with extremely fitting), what his real name is, we can only hope that he is wondering the same things about the two brunette girls living in the white house on Hooker Street.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I smoked my first cigarette at the ripe age of twenty. It was finals week, I was stressed and my current roommate and I decided to take a break and drive to the beaches of La Jolla circa ten pm on a Tuesday night in an attempt to escape the library and our looming ten-page research papers. We drove straight to the beach and immediately ditched the car and our shoes, opting for the nearest lifeguard tower and the feeling of the sand beneath our toes. "I'm bringing these, just in case" she said with uncertainty while closing the car door behind her. I rolled my eyes as I shut my own door, watching her stuff the small package in her pocket.
"These" were a pack of parliament lights - pfunks as we call them and in a matter of minutes, my disapproving eye-roll turned into an "okay fine, but only one". Only one just felt right in that moment, and as I sat there staring at the dark ocean and bright stars, puffing on my one cigarette and feeling a nicotine rush for the very first time, my friend stared at me in disbelief and said "I cannot believe you just did that".
She wasn't the first to try to get me to smoke. There were many before her and for some reason or another I had literally been denying the existence of cigarettes for years, following the rules and listening to the warnings of health teachers, my parents and my Aunt Melaine whose voice sounded like some sort of evil villain on account of being a chain smoker for nearly thirty years. It is unclear what it was exactly on that cool night in May that allowed me to take the plunge and rid myself of the long-standing convictions I had about smoking, but I let it all go on that beach and smoked, one and only one.
Three years later, and more cigarette's then either of us would ever like to admit, my roommate and I find ourselves incorporating the "only one" philosophy into daily life, namely that of life on Wednesdays. Here in the "real world", Wednesdays are both good and bad. On one hand the work week is halfway over and the weekend is that much closer, but a lot of the time we have come to find that Wednesdays can be somewhat lack-luster and looking ahead to two more days in the work week can be a real downer. Fortunately for us, not too long after moving to the mile-high city we "accidentally" discovered that the night life here mid-week is not too shabby. That being said, through a bit of trial and error (error being a few really terrible Thursday mornings) we have perfected the act of going out on Wednesday nights and have decided to keep things simple.
Thus, we have implemented a system that not only cures the mid-week blues, but allows for morning-after efficiency and a fully functioning Thursday. Remembering back to that fateful night on the beach, we have developed the "only one" concept into a rule to live by on Wednesdays here in Denver. Whether it be one drink, one smoke, one dance or even one of each, we oftentimes find ourselves beep bopping through the city streets midweek, relieving stress, trying out new happy hour spots and mingling with other young professionals who are looking for the same break in the work week that we are. This Wednesday way of life has led us to flip nights, charity galas, dive bars and networking events and has been the saving grace in what could have been a very mundane post-college weekly routine. It is simple, it is easy and like that night on the beach in La Jolla, it just feels right.
"I can't believe I just did that either" I remember saying to her as we slowly drug our feet back to the car after an hour spent soaking in the stars on the beach and savoring every last puff of the p-funk. Heading back to campus and back to the late night glow of our computer screens in the library, I could have never guessed then that we would both be here in this city now, sharing a house, a routine and every once in a while sharing one drink, one dance, and occasionally, when it just feels right, one cigarette.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
"I want to make a toast" she said standing in the middle of an extremely messy apartment. And as the six of us gathered around her, tripping over various articles of clothing and cracking open our first beers of the evening, there was no doubt that this one would be a real tear jerker. She began slowly, describing how much thinking she had done on the flight out to Denver and how much of it involved us girls. She listed the changes that had occurred in her life in the past two years and briefly touched on those changes that had occurred in the rest of ours, then concluded with a simple statement that really made the tears fall. "Through everything that has changed in our lives since we graduated, the one thing that has remained a constant, is our friendship".
The next morning after recapping the Nuggets game, more beers at my favorite dive bar and one too many rumple-mint shots, I sat in silence staring at my beautiful friends. As their conversation flowed from random make-outs to politics to travel plans and big dreams, I began remembering the toast from the night before, and lost myself in thought.
I remembered the first time I met each of them in college. Some, on the very first day in our sorority, others at random parties first semester freshman year, vying for both the attention and booze belonging to the football player of the week. We began our friendships over beer bongs and late nights on the beach, weary of each other's trust and probably unsure of our own loyalties as well. Through the years our friendships evolved and specific moments, breaking points if you will, brought us closer and cemented the bonds that had been forming over time. Whether it was on a beach while studying abroad, through the resolution of a major argument, or even an honest conversation at the nearest Starbucks, these moments left us in our rawest, realest state and it was in these moments that we let each other in. All the way in.
Then I recalled one of the last nights of college and another very important toast. Sitting around our dining room table with one bottle of champagne, a handful of pens and a sheet of paper for each of us. There we were intertwined in each other, sharing chairs, tickling arms, braiding hair, and practically reenacting the sleepover scene in Grease, minus the curlers. We wrote down our personal goals, we made predictions for the future, we answered questions and wrote notes to ourselves, then we bottled them up and put them away for safe keeping. And when it was all said and done we looked at each other through teary eyes and promised that in ten years we would re-open the bottle, during our golden years, while on a girls-only reunion trip somewhere tropical and warm. I so vividly remember the moment when the first person left the table that night. I didn't want it to end because I was scared that we would lose what we had in that moment, that we would lose each other to jobs, to boyfriends, to grad school, to life. I was scared that that second was as good as it would ever get for us and that the realness and rawness we felt, would fade in time.
Two years later, I found myself in my living room in Colorado staring at those same girls and feeling that same rawness. So much has changed, yet so much feels the exactly same. Through law school, job promotions, teacher of the year awards, stints abroad, parents divorces, parents re-marriages, the ownership of pets, the changing of boyfriends, and many many moves, the one thing that has truly remained the same in all our lives are our friendships with each other. Watching my friends lay together, playing with hair, tickling arms and making jokes that are far too inappropriate for anyone but our gross selves, I realized that our golden years are now and that they will continue for many years to come. That champagne bottle with our dreams in it continues to collect dust and will do so for the next eight years. But while we wait for the bottle to age, we will continue our reunions, our toasts, and our promises to remain close friends. Because as everything in life speeds by and changes us, the one constant that we can absolutely count on, is our friendship, and of course the never-ending inappropriate jokes.