ch-ch-changes.

Over a 3.5 week period in August, I will be…

  • leaving my full time job
  • packing up my entire life into boxes and suitcases
  • moving out of my apartment with my two roommates
  • turning over the keys to my car
  • saying a lot of “see you later’s”

And then, I’ll be…

  • getting on a plane to fly to Washington, DC
  • moving into an apartment with new roommates
  • unpacking some of those suitcases and boxes (some are going to live with Mom & Dad, thanks!)
  • exploring a new neighborhood
  • getting a Washington, DC metro card
  • starting school for the first time in four (!!!) years
  • starting a new part time job

I will be leaving my job, apartment, neighborhood, city, beloved home state, family, friends, car, gym, routines, favorite bars and coffeeshops, my walks at Tower Grove park, all of it.

That’s really exciting because I’m about to do something really awesome. But it’s also really terrifying in some moments and really sad in a lot more.

Because even though all of these changes are exciting and wonderful, they are still change. And all change inevitably means some kind of loss is going to take place. And every loss needs to be mourned adequately.

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it’s memorial day weekend!

To me, Memorial Day weekend has come to mean one thing over the past few years: ROAD TRIP TIME!

Two years ago, I was prepping to head to Portland, Maine with my JVC community members and most of the rest of JVC East to spend the long weekend together. One of my favorite memories of that weekend? The drive there with Maggie and Cristina, stopping at Sonic (a novelty in New England… not so much here in the Midwest!), and blaring Maggie’s mix CDs that became the soundtrack to our summer together.

Around this time last year, I was really missing JVC, so I did what I do, and I impulsively bought a plane ticket to Boston. Things worked out just right, so I ended up making another road trip with Maggie up to Maine to spend part of the weekend with some of our (now) FJV friends.

I decided to forego another impulsive plane ticket to New England this year (although it was a tempting idea), but I couldn’t pass up a prime road trip opportunity. I’ve got work today, then a few things to take care of tonight.

But tomorrow morning, I’ll be waking up early, hopefully running to the farmer’s market for some strawberries (real talk: I’ve been craving these since last June), gathering my snacks, and packing up my car to spend the weekend in Nashville with my best friend!

Our plans for the weekend tentatively include: going out on Broadway, paying a visit to the Bluebird Cafe, hanging out in East Nashville, lounging at her apartment pool, and more.

I’m already loving this Memorial Day road trip tradition.

just say yes.

I’m realizing life is defined by our choices whether to say yes, please or no thanks more than almost anything else.

And this time, I’m saying yes.

The other thing? Being interested, acting like it, and pursuing those interests—in relationships, friendships, work, and everything else.

We’re so afraid to show interest because of the fear of rejection, but I’m committing to saying yes more and more and more. (And more no’s too—none of this non-committal in-between nonsense.)

the city will change you.

So, despite the love I feel for Andy Grammer’s new song, Back Home, I do take issue with one thing about it. As he says in the chorus:

See, we won’t forget where we came from
The city won’t change us
We beat to the same drum
No, we won’t forget where we came from
The city can’t change us
We beat to the same drum, the same drum

Because here’s the thing: the city can and WILL change you, whatever the city may represent to you (for me, it literally is the cities I’ve called home these past 6.5 years).

The city will break you, it will make you question yourself, and it will leave you with bruises and scars. It will also make you feel alive in completely new ways.

That doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten where you came from.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t find your way back home.

But it does mean that these places you go, the things you experience, they alter you in one way or another. It’s inevitable, and it’s often irreversible.

That’s not a bad thing; in fact, it can be a good thing because growth is necessary to life. For me, I’ve learned to see home with completely new eyes: both the good and the bad.

So cheers to finding your way back home, but remember that you can never go back to exactly the same person you were when you left. While the core of you may remain the same, you’ll always keep changing. And that’s completely fine.

 

you must make time to dream.

You would think that it would be easy to find time for the things you love… if only that were true. For me, as for most of us, it’s frequently the opposite. I’m so busy doing the things I have to do that frequently I don’t make time for the things I love to do.

The things I love that I don’t do often enough all have one thing in common: they allow me time to slow down, to breathe, to think, to reflect, to get out of the routine of go, go, go. Reading makes me stay in one place and get out of my own head and into someone else’s. Writing helps me process the jumbled chaos of my life. Taking a walk (and running when I briefly tried that; it’s not for me) allows my mind time to relax. Even more so than carving out time to read, write, or take a walk, I have found that I also need intentional time to dream.

While life is often driven by busy, busy, busy, how are we ever supposed to know where to go next if we don’t set aside intentional time to process those ideas? To let them sit in our heart? For me at least, I need that time. (See also: Hi, I’m an introvert.)

There are somethings I can do without and it doesn’t bother me much in the long run (TV, movies, etc.), but keep me from these other things for too long, and I stop feeling like myself. I need the downtime. I need the space in my mind where I’m not frantically running from one thing to another: from work, to the gym, to home, to cooking dinner, to showering, to meeting friends, etc. etc. etc.

When does it stop? For me, it stops when I make it stop. When I say, no, let’s reschedule. When I give up a workout. When I forego elaborate meal plans and grab whatever I can from the fridge. When I stay home on a Friday night. Or (and this is the perfectionist in me who thinks I can do it all) when I just become more efficient.

Oh, but what a trap the idea of efficiency is. Because no matter how fast we work, there are still only twenty-four hours in a day. I can’t be everything and do everything, but I’m learning that I can be something, and I can be it well.

Much has been written about the cult of being busy in America, and it’s the truth. I can’t tell you how many times over the past year and a half that when someone has asked how I’m doing, I’ve simply answered busy.

The sad thing about that is a) it’s a poor answer and b) it wasn’t even always all that true. Sometimes my busyness was nothing less than a search for an answer that would satisfy the average person. “Everyone understands busy,” I thought. “Everyone likes to hear busy.”

When most people ask how you are doing, they don’t want to hear that you are sometimes really happy and sometimes really sad, that you’re struggling, that you don’t always know if you’ve made the right choices.

The truth of the matter is that I made myself busy for a long time because I was scared to be alone, to be lonely. As a single person, I do a lot of things by myself, which can be both good and bad. When I first moved back to St. Louis, I didn’t really know how to cope with spending so much time by myself, so I made myself busy. I started working out regularly, I started volunteering, and I got involved with a bunch of organizations. None of these things are bad, and at the time, it was certainly what I needed. But a year and a half later, I’m starting to realize that maybe I need to slow down a bit.

Maybe now I need to make more time to dream, to write, to be in this space.

Maybe I need to give myself permission to stop glorifying busyness.

Maybe I just need to make the time to dream.

on breakdowns.

I had a mini emotional meltdown last night that was set off by an awful trip to the dentist… of all things. But it wasn’t really about the dentist, which in my experience is how most of these things go.

Sometimes… my broken heart has less to do with him and it than with the fact that I feel like I’m being being ripped away from so many other things I love. The breakdown in the park has nothing to do with the bad workout and everything to do with every struggle I’ve ever had with body image. The freak outs over inconsequential things are really a culmination of many larger things. The so-called “cause” is really just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Because it’s not about the dentist. It’s about growing up. It’s trying so hard to take care of myself and to do well and still feeling like I’m failing. It’s worrying about money and the future and how in the world I’m ever going to make it all work. It’s taking some of the biggest chances and not knowing how they will pan out for me. It’s a lot of career uncertainty and wondering and worrying. In short, it’s about being 24-almost-25 and not knowing how the rest of my life is going to turn out.

And after I get the emotions out of my system, I pick myself up, talk to the people I love, and call it a night. I wake up, make a smoothie, and go to work where I listen to One Direction and the Avett Brothers (it’s a combo that works for me, don’t judge) on Spotify to lift my mood.

And it’s Friday, but more importantly, it’s a new day, and the world is still a little big and scary, but I’m going to make it. I’m going to be just fine. (But I really need to start flossing more.)

learning to be a cook.

Chopping vegetables will always take me back to Boston.

I spent countless Monday evenings standing at the counter in Casa Taj, removing the papery skin from onions, slicing them into horizontal rings, and dicing them into smaller pieces, tears burning my eyes. I’d peel the tough outer skin off sweet potatoes and cut them into small cubes. Bell peppers (always green because they were the cheapest) would be de-seeded and diced along with the rest. A swirl of olive oil in a pan, then I’d add the onions and bell peppers. A healthy dose of garlic and spices came after that.

I’d stir and stare off into space while the vegetables sizzled on the stove or soup simmered.

Eventually, I would move onto shredding mountains of cheddar cheese. Usually I would be checking the oven throughout, peaking in to see how whatever baked concoction I had dreamed up was coming along.

Our knives were never actually sharp enough, and no matter how much we scrubbed them, the counters never seemed quite clean (the floor was a complete lost cause). The dish drainer was always overflowing. But that kitchen felt like home.

I would have never said that I could cook before JVC.

I had long understood the beauty of baking, but that year was when I begin I understand the beauty of cooking, of putting a full, sometimes even healthy, meal on the table to enjoy with others.

I still cook mostly from scratch, but now it’s mostly just for me. I sometimes still don’t scale my quantities down, so I end up with pots of soup large enough to feed me for two weeks.

But now I love cooking. I enjoy having friends over for dinner and having excuses to try new recipes. I didn’t grow up in a family where we ate dinner together every night, but that is a ritual I now cherish.

For me, as with many things in life, sharing food goes back to the ancient idea of breaking bread, of the community that forms when we all sit around the same table. I now revel in any opportunity to share food with friends in any sort of intentional way. There’s something sacred about the table, about warm food and a real connection. I’m grateful to JVC for showing me that, and I’m grateful for my ability to (literally) bring something to the table.