For Kevin

It’s barely even 9:00, and I haven’t even left for my trip to Canada yet. My room is covered with things I should probably pack, and there’s a long checklist of the things I need to do running through my head of all the things I need to do before 6am tomorrow morning.

None of that really seems to matter right now though, because I’m all hooked on this feeling and impression I had when we said goodbye tonight. I didn’t think that it was going to be that big of a deal. I’m only going to be gone for a week, and I’m sure we’ll find some way to talk to each other, but still – it’s only a week. But when we stood out on your driveway and I said goodbye realizing that it would be that last time I would see you for a decent amount of time, my heart had an very unexpected drop. At the exact same moment the thought came to me that I didn’t ever want to have to say goodbye to you ever again.

Let me repeat that none of this was expected. I’ve honestly just been looking forward to this trip all week. I need a vacation and I’m going to my favorite vacation spot in the world, but now I’ve got this unexpected sadness that you’re not coming and that I won’t be able to see you. It kind of sucks.

I just wanted to be able to leave without feeling anything. Even eight months (!!!) into this relationship, I keep trying to convince myself that if it were necessary I would be able to detach myself from you without any sort of pain and that I’d be able to move on. It’s starting to become apparent that I’m just fooling myself.

I know we’ve already talked a lot about my own insecurities and problems that I have to deal and why it makes it so hard for me to just let myself be happy for once despite what anyone else thinks, but I get so frustrated with myself sometimes. I get frustrated because I can’t seem to let myself love myself. You’ve made it easier, but there’s still this part of me that just hates who I am, and I wish that it wasn’t so. I know that you love me, but my own doubts about myself make me try and find doubts that you love me. I get frustrated because I just want to be normal, but maybe normal is impossible for me now. And the more time I spend with you (and consequently learn about myself) the more I think that perhaps I was never meant to be “normal.”

There’s a musical I love called Next to Normal. I know, I know, you’ve never heard of it (but I also know you’d watch and listen to it if I asked and gave you a Baja Blast ;) ). It’s basically about this family that’s had a very traumatic past, and a line from one of the songs says, “I don’t need a life that’s normal – that’s way too far away. But something next to normal would be okay.” Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be for me. My own personal doubts and self-criticism are always going to come into play. But being with you always makes me like myself a little bit more, and I always end up liking you even more.

So perhaps there were a couple reasons that I was so…pained to say goodbye to you tonight. I think the majority of it is because I love having you around so much and that you’ve become such an important part of my life. I think another, smaller part might be because I’m going to miss having my best friend around. I’m going to miss the person that I feel most comfortable around and that I can tell anything to, and who I trust the most. I’ll miss you, Kevin. That’s why I’m taking the time to sit down and type all this out. Well, that and because I need to sort it all out in my head.

Now, you know that I’m going to miss you. And I know you’re going to miss me. Even though we’ve both agreed that time apart will be good, I still didn’t expect it to freak me out so much. I promise that I’ll listen to our songs.

For Miss Aubrey

Whenever I hear a Marianas Trench song or find myself wandering the aisles of the local health food store and wondering just what kombucha actually is, it’s Miss Aubrey that I think about. Or when I have an unfortunate Freudian slip, or need somebody to tell my deepest and scariest thoughts to – it’s Miss Aubrey that I pull out my phone to text or talk to.

I’ve always thought of her as Miss Aubrey. The ‘Miss’ always just seemed to go with her name, and her personality begs a bit of class. So Miss Aubrey it is. With her hipster-esque glasses, genuine smile, bright eyes, and ability to pull off  hair that echoes Audrey Hepburn, Aubrey is the peanut to my butter. The Jane to my Lizzie. The Diana to my Anne.

We only live an hour apart, closer to 45 minutes now that I’ve moved. Yet that hour seems to feel a lot longer and like a much larger distance with life always getting in the way. Although we’ve never lived ‘close,’ there was a time when we would see each other multiple times a day. Now we’re lucky if we get to see each other once a month.

Yes, distance has put a bit of a restraint on our relationship. Our lives are very much our own, but somehow we’re still friends. We don’t talk all the time. I don’t feel the need to constantly update her on my whereabouts or decisions, but I know that she’s there. I know that Miss Aubrey is the sort of girl who always makes good decisions in faith, and I sometimes ask myself, “What would Aubrey do?”

I don’t get to see her as much as I’d like. In all honesty we don’t even talk as much as I’d like. I get frustrated with myself for being so busy and for letting things get in the way. Yet she’s there. She’s always there. I still think about her every day, even if it’s in just the smallest way possible and knowing that I’m lucky enough to call her friend.  That girl hasn’t seemed to give up on me yet, though heaven knows she probably should have a long time ago. I struggle with balancing my life and getting my priorities straight, but over the last year Miss Aubrey’s friendship has been consistent, and that alone has relieved me of so much stress.

I think we’ve both changed a lot since we first became (fast) friends. Actually there isn’t much to think about – it’s true. It’s a good change, though.We’re growing up and still trying to figure just what exactly that means. She’s the older and wiser one, and I look up to her example a lot. Her advice continues to make my transition easier. She’s never failed to be a perfectly classy example of maturity.

Yet even with all this change, we’re still friends. Friends in the very truest sense of the word. Miss Aubrey is my bosom friend. Life just sort of threw us together, and I’m very glad it did. Life continues to whip down on us each in very different ways, but I have no doubt that we’ll be laughing (and wheezing) about the good ol’ times when we have to soak our teeth in brandy and use canes to hobble around. As far as examples go, she is a pretty great one. I’m lucky to call her my best friend.

So here’s to you, Miss Aubrey: the classiest friend a gal could ask for.  And here’s to praying and hoping that I get to laugh with you again very, very soon.

 

DSC_0114881

5 Things I Learned while Road Tripping with Almost Strangers

Two weeks ago I packed up a bag, stuffed some books and my computer into a backpack, and proceeded to climb into a Honda Pilot consisting of me, Kevin, and three almost complete strangers. We were to embark on a ten-hour car ride to California with a stop in Vegas for the night. As we set off down the freeway, I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d gotten myself into.

Of course I knew all my fellow travel companions at least a little. We all work together, but I doubt anyone would ever have expected us to take a vacation together for a week. It all worked out surprisingly well, and I now present to you the top five things I learned during that week.

As you can tell, we are all very serious and mature adults.

 

When in Doubt, Food is ALWAYS a good idea.

I am a very hangry person. When I’m hungry I unconsciously get grumpy and start getting frustrated and snappy with my surroundings. From all my years and years of experience *slight sarcasm* I’ve found that the majority of people in the world get this way. You’re not you when you’re hungry, right?

When things start to feel a little strained during such a trip as this, the best thing to do is to suggest some sort of sustenance. At the beach? How about some seafood or ice cream? Walking along Hollywood Boulevard? I think a nice American burger would be nice.This strategy solved all my problems more than once.

See, the thing about hanger is that you don’t realize you have it until someone mentions food. So if you seem to notice tension growing, there’s a good chance that all their stomachs are rumblings. Food is a great bonding mechanism, ya’ll.

Cards Against Humanity is a great way to Break the Ice.

If you ever need to get to know the real someone quickly, I honestly can’t think of a better way than to pull out this game.

Enough said.

DSC_00241013

Let’s ignore my exhausted and sleep deprived face in this one, shall we?

 

Finding Music Everyone Agrees on is Essential. 

We all know that the two most important things on any road trip are the tunes and the snacks. Thankfully snacks are something that everyone can take of on their own, but when it comes to what music is going to be blasting out of those speakers? A bad playlist can ruin the whole trip and make a ten hour trip feel like 100. So make sure you’ve got a playlist full of agreeable music, along with access to a wide variety of genres just in case you get any special requests.

With our trip, we were able to find about ten songs that everyone really liked enough to play again and again. It was also nice to have a Spotify Premuim subscription for those times that we needed to jam out to Disney anthems or when I decided to introduce the group to Avenue Q (It was a hit).

ALWAYS be Flexible.

It’s a good idea to have a plan of what you’re going to be doing each day, but NEVER be opposed to just following your instincts and throwing that plan out completely. If we’d followed all plans exactly, I never would have gotten to go to an Angel’s game, be on Let’s Make A Deal, or even have eaten at a Hard Rock Cafe (yes – it was my first time. Don’t judge me.).

Don’t just be flexible with plans. Be flexible with your comfort zone. I tried boogie boarding and spent an hour in an LA thrift shop – both things I normally would never have done. But I’m so glad I did, and I have more memories and stories to tell because I was willing to flex my comfort zone a little. Plus, it’s a great way to keep everyone happy.

I may have almost drowned. Twice. But it was worth all the salt water in my throat.

 

Being Stuck Together for a week is a great way to make new Friends.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t think anyone would ever have expected our group to take a trip together. For the most part we are all very different people with different futures and interests. Yet somehow we all got along and there were times when I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t breathe. We were all able to find common interests and even where our personalities differed, there was always something that we could agree on.

The week went by so fast, and I couldn’t be more glad that I went. I couldn’t be more grateful for the people that came and the fact that they were able to deal with me for a whole week – sometimes my own family can’t even do that.

So if you want to make memories and create a special bond with some near strangers, I suggest you pile them all into a car and spend a week together. Just make sure they aren’t total strangers, because nobody wants an axe murder sitting next to them for ten hours.

 

That Moment I Realized I was an Adult

“Oh”, she thought, “how horrible it is that people have to grow up – and marry- and change!”

- L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island

It’s an odd sensation to be simply driving the rather long and straight road home and have something of an epiphany strike. There I am, just minding my own business and enjoying the divine sounds of Ed Sheeran’s crooning, when it hits me that the life I am used to and comfortable and happy with is on the cusp of disappearing altogether.

It’s just over a month until I move yet again. This time into an apartment, but it will be another move less than three months after the last one. The only memories I’ll have of this house are of its gutted insides due to the unexpected flood from last week, and of boxes still stuffed in corners waiting for the right moment to be unpacked. It doesn’t feel like home to me. It’s just a house that I sleep in an try to feel comfortable with, but each night I toss and turn from the heat and strangeness of such a small bed. I’ve only just got a real room. I was lodging in the basement for a while, even more cut off and secluded than I already am.

There have been so many times over the last few days that I’ve just wanted to curl up in a little ball with my favorite book and a mug of tea, never to move again. Only I can’t. I’m an adult and I have to do “adult things.” Whatever that means.

It’s almost like this new house is a symbol for my new life. Not only are my living quarters new (and still mostly in boxes) but my car, hair, and most of my clothes have also taken on the term of “new.” I didn’t realize just how much had changed until I was driving home. The drive was no longer a short five minute burst, but a fifteen minute trek to another city, and all that extra time got me thinking.

My sister has my old car now. She also has a job and a checking account, and is growing up a lot faster than I ever thought was possible. I’ve always been older, but now I’m the old one. And while I was sitting at a stop light it hit me that if I decide to go on an LDS mission next year, and my sister decides to do the same the year after, then we won’t see each other for about three. years. The realization made my stomach and heart drop a little. Three years without my only sibling? Ouch.

All of a sudden I just wanted everything to be the way it was before. I didn’t want to have to worry about money or car repairs or having to unpack more boxes. I wanted to have a pool again and carefree summer days. I didn’t want to think about not seeing my family for so long, or my sister for even longer. I wanted a comfortable home that I was used to and a life that I knew better than the one I’m in now. I know that life better than the back of my hand, but it’s just about completely gone now.

My friends are moving and I’m moving again and nobody knows where we’ll be a year from now. It hurts a little to realize that I really am no longer a child, and that my official “childhood” is over. I can’t ever go back to that. Being an adult is what I wanted for so long. I, like every other kid, never listened to those who told me to enjoy being a kid. I just wanted to grow up. But growing up isn’t all that I (or anyone) thought it would be, and for the first time I found myself desperately wishing that I hadn’t wanted to grow up so fast.

 

Driving home late at night is an odd time to realize that you really aren’t a kid anymore. Yet I suppose it’s as good a time as any, provided you keep your focus on the road and don’t swerve with the sudden stomach drop that accompanies such realizations.

It’s sad how depressing growing up can be, but it’s also a lot of fun. Despite the fact that the life I’ve known is quickly coming to an end, I’m grateful for all the time I did to get spend with it, and I nervously anticipate what this new sort of life has in store for me.

The Windows

The clock chimes twelve, and the sky is dark. There aren’t many stars out tonight, and the moon is hidden behind the mountains somewhere. There is a streetlamp right outside my window, but it isn’t one of those tall, weed-like ones that I’m used to. This one looks more like it was taken from somewhere in Narnia, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like with the snow coming down in a slow fall this winter.

It isn’t winter now, though. It’s summer, and the sky is clear and the air is just cool enough to allow me to stay out late without my toes turning a slight shade of purple. The grass on the lawn is just slightly overgrown, but it’s green and feels nice to walk on after a long day of standing. The lamplight makes it twinkle with a fairy glow that makes my belief in magic seem a little more logical.

My old room didn’t really have such an advantageous window. It was rather high up, and I look out it from my desk. This new room has three windows. They are large and beautiful and allow me to view the neighborhood from three different angles. I don’t face the mountains anymore, but I can see a lot of other wonderful things. There are trees and a park, and young kids who ride their bikes every morning. When I sit at my desk, I am right in front of the window and I can look across the street and see the woman who never seems to leave her couch that is on their front porch. Even in the rainstorm the other day she did not move. She sat huddled up in blankets and with a pair of gloves reading her book, like she does everyday. I can watch her from my window, and I can imagine all the different reasons why she does this. I can write about the woman while watching the woman – I am not used to this.

This is a writer’s room now. The books have been organized by color, the desk sits front and center with my notebooks and laptop cluttered on top. I can walk in and write. Even now, at midnight, when the rest of the world seems to be asleep. I just want to sit at the desk and write something only because it feels like that’s what I should be doing. Anyone walking by would see the crazy girl in her pajamas typing furiously away in front of an open bay window.

The windows are truly wonderful. From the moment I saw this room, I knew it was the one I wanted. It didn’t matter if it was a little smaller or if the excessive amount of glass would also allow for excessive amounts of heat in the summer – I wanted it. Seeing how it’s turned out has made me very satisfied. It looks even more European than my old room, and that’s exactly what I need. The long, red curtains complement the white walls and black trim perfectly, and the fact that the first thing you notice is my overwhelming amount of books makes me very happy indeed. It doesn’t quite feel like home yet. It’s more like a house that I’m staying in rather than a place of real comfort, but it’s on its way to being that comforting place. I’ve already found myself drawn to sitting at my desk and looking outside when I’m feeling tired or stressed out.

During the day I can see the neighborhood, and they can see me. But at night, with the lights turned low and the curtains drawn, they only see what I want them to. Maybe that’s why I prefer writing at night. Because I’d rather be seen in a way that I prefer as opposed to what I really am. I like being seen writing away like the words come easily, and I like being able to hide from everyone else in the dark shadows. I enjoy being able to sit and stare and the lamp across the street. It’s so tall and ornate, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the sort of place where couples stop to share their first kiss.

Thanks to my windows, I guess I’ll be able to find out.

daddyandme

For Dad, on Father’s Day

Finding pictures of my dad and me together can be rather difficult sometimes. It’s not that he’s never around – he’s always around. But he’s also always the one behind the camera. See, dad’s always been there for me, always supporting me in the background and not letting an important (or even not so important) moment go by without some memories for the photo albums. When I look at all those pictures, I still see my dad though. Even if he’s not in them, I know he was there, smiling from behind the camera. Every photo has a little memory of him attached to it.

Some of my favorite memories from my childhood are centered around my dad. I remember him tucking me in every night and taking the time to read me whatever stories I picked. As I grew older, the stories advanced and it was with my dad that I first got introduced to The Chronicles of Narnia. Then came Harry Potter, and we would read a chapter or two every night together before I drifted off into a sleep full of magical dreams. Dad read to (and later on the rest of the family, too) until I was well into middle school. Even though I may have grown out of it by the end, it’s something I’ll always cherish. I still kind of miss being able to gather as a family every night to tackle whatever series we were into at the time.

You Are My Sunshine was our song. In fact, even when I hear that song today I think of my dad singing it to me. I clearly remember not knowing what the words meant for a long time, but knowing that whenever daddy sang it to me, it meant he loved me and I knew it. Just the other day my dad was telling me that he would sing me that song and I would lie my head down on his shoulder to fall asleep. The funny thing is that when I hear that song now I start to relax a little more. I’ll always think of You Are My Sunshine as our song, and maybe someday I’ll be able to sing it to my own kids and tell them how my dad sang it to me.

He taught me how to drive,  ride a bike, mow the lawn, work my camera, voluntarily read all my stories,  and spent many nights going over math homework with me. And trust me, none of those were very easy things.

My dad isn’t a very proud man. He isn’t loud and doesn’t need to be the center of attention. He won’t steal the limelight and for the most part is pretty quiet. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good father – he’s a great one. I know I can talk to him about anything, and I know that he loves me because he tells me all the time. Dad never had to prove that he loved me with big gifts or huge, memorable acts. He showed (and still shows) me all the time with all the little things he does for me and our family so diligently.

So on this Father’s Day, I just wanted to thank him for everything. I couldn’t have asked for a better example of a father, husband, and confidant in my life. I’m so lucky to have my dad around, and to have a dad who is committed to all the right things in life.

Thanks for all the fantastic memories, daddy (because I know you read this blog). Here’s to hoping for many, many more.