Exactly What I Wanted, In None of the Ways I Planned

Today is December 20, 2012. There are currently 11 days left in the year, and I almost can’t believe that it’s so close to coming to an end. I started this blog on December 31, 2011 with all sorts of intentions. In all honesty, I was feeling bored more than anything. Bored with myself, with life. It was a good life, a GREAT life in fact. I had accomplished all I wanted to so far, had a lot of great things going on with relationships, friendships and family. I was happy–but something felt like it was missing. I saw this massive global awakening happening: people discovering things about themselves, taking action on things they were passionate about, really growing and living while I sat at home and kept going with my day-to-day routine like I had for years. I decided to go, do, see, and be anything and everything. After all, how easy is it to really grow and learn about the universe around you when you’re always looking at it through the same window?

It began simply. A list. 112 things that I would like to experience in a year’s time. I feel much more accomplished when I can check things off a list. But, and I can not even put into words the pure and raw emotion behind this statement: This year is ending exactly as I’d hoped, but in none of the ways that I planned.

I know many of you noticed that my posts started dwindling in frequency near the middle of the year. While I still held hope for completing my list, my world was changing dramatically all around me. I made one decision, one that does not appear anywhere on my list, that ended up–albeit indirectly–sparking that awakening that I was so longing for when 2012 started.

This may not be the most pleasant story, but stick with me here. This one, single decision catapulted me into a place that I did not know existed for me. While I have had my dark moments in life, I can say with confidence that I have always felt like my life has been relatively easy. I’ve been very very lucky. I had friends that loved me, no enemies to speak of, a solid support system, and very little uncertainty about my future and where I was going in my life.

Suddenly, this all changed.

Every cell inside of me that had felt restricted by the life I’d been living before burst forth from within me, pushing me to be wild, completely unpredictable, even to myself, and in many ways a little self-destructive. I no longer had any idea what I was doing, where I was going, and worse–I had no idea what I even wanted out of life anymore. I was, in every sense of the word, lost. The way I see it, though, is that while the path you are walking on may be comfortable and familiar, sometimes you have to divert and get a little bit lost in order to find another path that you may not have known existed, but could be better for you than you could have imagined.

Lucky enough for me, there were a few people who, despite recognizing that I was flailing uncontrollably, were willing to hold my hand, literally and figuratively while I went through all the stages of destruction and regrowth. (Is a phoenix rising from the ashes a cliché?  Because it’s appropriate here.) They stayed up with me at all hours because all I needed was someone to sit with me because I just needed to–cry. Or talk. Or just…simply sit in the company of someone else and do nothing at all. Some of these people had known me a long time, some people met me just as this all began, but regardless of how long they had known me, or how well, they had faith in me and recognized that though people sometimes have moments of darkness, that they do indeed rise out of it again.

Truly, I find myself thankful for this gift, these people, more than anything else, this holiday season.

Very slowly I started looking inside again, at what I needed as a person, at flaws, fears and insecurities I needed to resolve. I talked myself blue in the face, to myself or anyone else who would listen. I started to meditate again. I picked my pen back up and started to write again. And of course, pushed myself to complete as many more resolutions as I could.

I can’t say that it was prompted by any one particular event, but eventually it started to feel like the fog was lifting. I heard myself speaking with confidence again about what I wanted and needed on a soul level–not just a materialistic one. As this year begins to draw to a close, and on the eve of this milestone date 12/21/12, I can honestly say that I feel like I am on the right track again.

I am well aware that I still have many things to work through, to figure out.  I will probably spend the rest of my life feeling this way, because life IS evolution and growth, but it;s a relief to realize that when I sit down and allow myself to be very quiet, that I feel calm. I feel as though I have the people in my life that are meant to be in it, though some are playing roles that I didn’t expect. I feel as though I recognize what is important to me, not because someone told me it should be important, but because it actually means something to me. And most of all, I feel as though I can release my fear. I finally recognize that although things can get bad, although you can get lost in a way that you don’t think you’ll find your way back again, you do, and when that happens you may find yourself in a completely different but far more beautiful place.

I am working on a brand-new resolution list for 2013, with a new focus based on all I’ve discovered this year. I can’t wait to share it with all of you and keep this adventure going for another crazy year. It’s been so fantastic to hear from the friends and the strangers who have followed my journey so far, so thank you from the bottom of my heart for going along for the ride with me.

And of course, I don’t want to forget!  There were a few resolutions that I completed and sadly never had the chance to write about so I want to at least list and give recognition here that I didn’t quite complete the whole list, but I got a few more things done and want to say a public thanks to everyone who was involved because I didn’t do a single one of these alone:

Resolution #4: Spend a Night on the 3rd floor of the Driskill: This came SO close to happening but fell through at the last minute.  But, I did get to hang out at the Driskill on Halloween of all days and had a blast while it lasted.

Resolution #5: Learn to Play and Sing a Song on Guitar: I got pretty close but did not perfect Hurt by Johnny Cash. I also almost got “The Only Exception” by Paramore under my belt.  I really need to practice more.

Resolution #7: Learn to Deep Fry. I ate so much fried food this day I made myself sick. Including an entire fried snickers bar, Oreos and a plethora of meat and veggies. …That snickers one is going to have to happen again sometime.

Resolution #16: Start a Balcony Garden: I moved into a house so we no longer have a balcony, but my roommate and I started a mason jar window sill garden with herbs. My cilantro was the only one out of four plants that sprouted…and then I forgot to water it… 😦

Resolution #18: Run a 5k: I actually did this one better and ran the 5 MILE Turkey Trot race with my family on Thanksgiving Day.  I managed to finish the 5 miles in just over an hour, and I am so proud of my mom, she worked hard on her fitness all year and completed this as her big coupe de grace this year.

Resolution #25: Learn More About Buddhism: I wanted to do more with this, but did actually seek out more info on Buddhism.  I read a great book called Dharma Punx by Noah Levine that taught me quite a bit, and visited a Buddhist Zendo here in Austin called the Austin Meditation Center and learned about tradition Buddhist Zen Meditation. I want to look more into this next year.

Resolution #38: Have Matching Couples Halloween Costume: Dru and I hand-made, and pulled off quite nicely if I do say so myself, costumes for Amber Sweet and The Graverobber from Repo! The Genetic Opera. And bonus, I now own a custom tailored cage skirt (thanks Dru!) and a rhinestone bra.

Resolution #43: Learn a Magic Trick: Dane taught me a couple of pretty great card tricks and then gifted me the deck so that I could practice. 🙂 I’m going to have to bust them out at a party sometime.

Resolution #57: Go to an Austin Music Festival: This was going to be Part Two of my most recent post (recent being October) but I never wrote it out. I managed to get a wristband for a day of ACL and had a BLAST with my friend Nicole getting to see as many bands as humanly possible in one day’s time. Even got a see a few great late night shows as well.

Resolution #61: Go Stargazing in the Middle of Nowhere: One of the coolest things about meeting new people is getting to know their favorite secret spots. I got to spend a really great night, in great company, out in the middle of a green belt with two bottles of wine, a waterfall and a sky full of stars. What’s better?

Resolution #70: Go to a Bar by Myself: This happened a couple of times but i never checked it off because I never had the courage to actually sit at the actual bar alone. I always found a book to hide in or a table to occupy. Seems I still have issues being alone in public.

Resolution #97: Go to an Alamo Drafthouse Event: I took my cousin, who was visiting from overseas, to Terror Tuesday featuring the 80’s disgust-o-flick The Blob. We did it up right with the comfy balcony seats at the Ritz, local brews, and lots of snacks.  And its only $3 or something for regular admission?! I’m going again sometime!

Resolution #99: Support a Cause I Believe In: I donated a lot of money this year to different causes. Hurricane Sandy relief most recently, I supported entrepreneurship in Kenya, bought a mosquito net for an area that had problems with Malaria, but I still feel like I need to be more proactive before I can really check this off my list.

Resolution #109: Do Hot Yoga: Let me just say, this is TOUGH, but a great experience and a perfect winter-weather exercise bit. A cold front just came in tonight, maybe I should dust off the yoga mat again.

Thanks again for a wonderful year and I’ll see you in 2013!

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The Kindness of Strangers [Resolutions 21 & 22]

Change is constant.  There is no doubt about that.  If you’re not changing, if you’re world isn’t changing, you aren’t truly alive.  There is value and comfort in stability, but we as humans are evolutionary creatures, we crave the ability to change and grow even if we don’t realize that’s so.

Recently, with all the change that’s going on in my life, I’ve likewise attracted people who are just as conscious of that craving as I am. Some people are chasing the same thing; some people are confident on their path and intentionally reach out and help those who are currently on the chase. Some people don’t even know the impact they have or will have on you, they just do what they do best and in the process–change you.

Dane, the now good friend from a few posts ago, is a little “all of the above.”  Since we first spent time together he has made it his personal mission to help me accomplish as many resolutions as humanly possible before the year’s end.  Though it is now unfeasible to complete my entire list (but that’s okay), every time we’ve met since our initial brunch outing he’s had something up his sleeve.  I have so many posts to catch up now just because I can’t write faster than he’s able to pull together resolutions with me.  (A big public thank you to you Dane!)

One of the more recent ones was:

Resolution #22: Write a letter to a stranger.

I don’t know why I didn’t think to google this to find a way to make it happen, but luckily Dane did and stumbled across Letters From Strangers.  A woman named Katie started it back in 2009 as a social experiment and community art project aiming to connect people all over the world in complete anonymity.  Basically, you compose a letter to a complete stranger. You are free to say whatever you want, include pictures, paintings, anything you would like to share. You may then mail the letter to Katie along with a self-addressed stamped envelope.  She places another stranger’s letter in your envelope to mail to you, and sends your letter in someone else’s.

You will never know who composed the letter you receive, where they are, their gender, their age, and they will never know you, though you’ve both likely opened a very intimate part of your soul to each other. It’s very poetic when you consider it.

I will refrain from posting the letter that I wrote, since if by some miracle its recipient stumbled across my blog it would no longer be anonymous.  I don’t want to take that chance, but I will share with you the letter that I received in return. I hoped, as I sent off my letter, that somehow its message would land in the exact hands that needed to receive it at the time.  Well, I don’t know if its recipient was as lucky as I was, but as I read over every hand-written word, it resonated with me and the exact place I am in life right now.  So, thank you Stranger. You’ll never have any idea, but in some way, big or small, you’ve reached me and changed me for the better.

It’s in pencil, so if you have difficulty reading it, here is the transcription of the front and back (not pictured):

Dear Stranger,

Do you ever want to quit?
Turn your life back and forget this place exists?
Run like Hell till even God couldn’t find you?
Stop and leave this whole mess behind you?

Don’t.

Don’t skip out on this life we call a rollercoaster. Because even rollercoasters are fun,
Right?

If you feel like giving up,
run.
But not from your problems.
Just run to feel the hot sidewalk burn a greeting to your feet.
Run towards someone you love.
Run to feel the burn in your muscles and remember you’re alive.
Run through the hard stuff and run toward happy things.
Run.

If you’re feeling blue,
remember all of the beautiful blue things in life.
The sky.
The mountains.
Eyes.
Flowers.
The ocean.

GO LOOK AT THEM.

When you feel like you’re going to break down, remember that even the most efficient cars need a tune up.

But remember to use your support systems.  Because cares need a jack to be lifted up and maybe you do too.
Cars don’t fix themselves.
Use your favorite mechanic.

So if everything is crashing down around your ears, look for some music in the cacophony.
Build a structure out of the debris.

And if you need a little boost,
don’t
forget
to
remember
me.

Lots of love from your new favorite stranger.

Resolution #21: Learn a new skill.

Another Dane resolution brought me into the capable hands of a handful of other kind strangers who would teach me the new skill of hula hooping.

We started by getting together one afternoon and making our very own hula hoops.  I wish I had pictures, but sadly I do not, so the above is an example of hoops that look a little like ours.  Dane went out and purchased pipe, connectors and electrical tape and had everything ready and laid out when I came over one day to hang out. We measured out our hoops, making them large for easy practice hoops, and connected the ends to make rings. Then, we tore into the electrical tape and I carefully wrapped my hoop in black, orange and yellow (now fondly named “The Jack o’ Lantern”) and Dane wrapped his in his signature blue, white and yellow.

We spent a few minutes in the backyard practicing basic hooping. Just getting it to stay up and moving around my waist proved a bit more difficult than I remembered as a kid. After a quarter-hour of wondering if my hips were dysfunctional, I finally got the movement down and found myself able to at least keep the hoop from falling around my ankles. Progress!  But that was just about as far as our basic knowledge could take us.

I allowed the hoops to sit in my room unused for a few days, but as we packed our things for Orfunner I tossed the hoops in the car with our camping gear.  What better place to get some practice in than a giant open campground?  Not to mention an event that was likely to have more than a few master hoopers in attendance.

After setting up camp, Jane and I went into a clearing near our camp and began to practice what few little tricks we knew. A few minutes later a stranger emerged from the trees and watched us quietly for a few minutes before approaching us. She asked for nothing, but explained that she’d been hooping for over ten years and was happy to offer us some tips if we wanted them. She hung out with us for about half an hour, just watching, demonstrating and critiquing.

By the time she left, I could hoop both clockwise and counter-clockwise as well as do the part of ‘the corkscrew.’ I could spin the hoop from my waist to over my head, but just couldn’t quite master getting it back down around my waist.  It didn’t matter; in the moment I felt WILDLY accomplished.

The hoops went back into dormancy after Orfunner, just for lack of time and space to practice, but this past Thursday I brought them out again for Hooping Happy Hour at The Vortex here in Austin.  Another stranger and master hooper, Cedar Stevens, shows up there every Thursday to hoop and teach hooping to anyone who shows up wanting to learn. (Seriously, if you live in Austin, you should come out and try it out.  It’s SO much fun!)

When she arrived, hoops in hand, she greeted us with sprite like enthusiasm.  She already knew Dane and greeted him by name, then introduced herself to me.  We picked up right where I had left off, attempting to complete a successful corkscrew. She, and another beautiful stranger Sharon watched me closely and both offered their suggestions.  Again, progress!  After an hour or so of hooping and chatting with these lovely ladies and Dane I could do the corkscrew (nearly) every time I attempted it and again felt privileged and enlightened to have made the acquaintance of a group of strangers so ready and willing to offer their expertise for nothing in return but the satisfaction of knowing that they helped out a newbie.

It all started with a stranger, turned acquaintance, turned very close friend Dane.  And, it opened me up to a whole world of strangers who, unbeknownst to them, have changed my life.  Not only by writing me a letter, or teaching me how to hoop, but by showing me that there is still kindness in strangers.  They proved that not everyone puts a price on their expertise. Not everyone saves their best and kindest words only for people they know. Not everyone approaches someone unknown with cynicism or doubt. They embrace them with trust and love.

And you know what?  It inspires me to do the same.

[Resolution] #95 Ask the waiter “What do you recommend?” And take his advice.

So many food posts lately.  I guess its obvious where my priorities on this list are.  🙂

Though, there’s something to be said about the joy of rekindling an old friendship.  Well, I’d say it was more like kindling one for the first time, even though the person I’m talking about and I have been smooshed together in the same schools since the 1st grade.  It’s strange how things work. That we’d seen or at least known who the other was for literally our entire lives, but just now, on this day at this time, we decided to start an actual friendship.  Or he did.  I have to give credit where credit is due.

Dane (he has a name) invited me out for a Sunday of food and merriment this weekend, and I gladly took him up on it.  After all, who doesn’t love food and merriment?

This day happened to begin with brunch at Blue Dahlia Bistro, a very cute, VERY European bistro on the East Side.  Side note about the East Side by the way, not nearly as scary as I remember.  There are a lot of great things over here.  I’m willing to give it another chance, but that’s for another day.

He was already there, sitting at a table with menus when I arrived.  We said our hello’s and sat down and, instinctively, I opened my menu to check out the offerings.

Dane did not.

“Do you already know what you’re getting?”  I asked, feeling a little self-conscious.

“Nope.”

He didn’t open his menu.

His plan was simply to allow the waiter to choose what he would be eating.  He didn’t even want to know what it was before it came out.  Suddenly, it dawned on me.  Resolution time!

With options like Belgian Waffles and Blueberry Blintzes it took me a while to actually surrender the fate of my hungry stomach to a stranger, but I begrudgingly closed my menu and awaited the waiter’s return.

When he came, Dane explained as he evidently had done to quite a few waiters in his lifetime.  “Here’s what we want you to do.  Choose your top two recommendations on the menu, DON’T TELL US WHAT THEY ARE, just choose and bring them to us, whatever they are.  We trust you completely.”

After clarifying that we’d like to try one breakfast and one lunch item, since it was brunch time after all, he went back inside to whisper with the other waiters about what the best selections might be.  He came back, grinning and quite pleased with himself, confident that we would enjoy what was coming to us.

Moments later, this is what arrived:

Top: Tartine (open-faced sandwich) with brie, apricot preserves and walnuts.

Bottom: Sausage frittata.

My face?  If I were punctuation I would have looked like this: 😀  I didn’t get my Belgian waffles but after a couple of bites of a warm, melty, cheesy frittata, it didn’t matter.  And, honestly, I don’t think I would have even looked at the Tartine section of the menu since I’ve never been a big sandwich person, but holy mother these were good.  Brie and apricot is so perfect and sweet and creamy and delicious.  For a lunch item it’s suspiciously similar to a breakfast item.  Not only was each one good, they went together well too.

He’ll likely never see it, but thank you Dave the waiter for the best brunch I would have never put together myself.

I think it actually ended up being a little bit fun for the wait staff too.  I’m no expert but I don’t figure that it’s all to often they get to select what the customer eats rather than just fulfilling orders.  He seemed to enjoy the change of pace despite the potential intimidation factor of our possible dissatisfaction.

Of course, by this point we were so excited about the amazing brunch that we decided that we’d try our luck with dessert too.

Success. Dave’s selection?  Their specialty peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream.  Hea-ven-ly.

I’m usually not extroverted enough to push anyone (or myself, for that matter) out of their comfort zone enough to do this EVERY time I eat, but I will definitely be trying this again.  Especially at the local joints like Blue Dahlia.  Austin has a lot of amazing features, but the local grub is definitely in the top 3.

And of course…what better to finish off a day of great local food than a trip to Cool Haus for–get this–more dessert.  (We’d walked a lot by this point and felt we were justified, somehow.)  We didn’t truly take any recommendation here, but stuck with our brunch theme and walked away with an ice cream sandwich of Hot Cake Cookies (maple cookie with maple sugar bits) and ice cream filling riddled with lucky charms cereal and flavored with Jameson whiskey. This has nothing to do with the resolution but it was too great not to share.

Question of the Day: Have you ever asked for a waiter’s recommendation?  Was it good, or terrible?

 

 

 

[Resolution(s)] 3, 55 & 100: Tourism, original art, and one BIG burrito. Part Two.

You’ve all heard about my friend Jake by now.  He is, sincerely, one of the best people that I’ve ever met. This is why it breaks my heart to say that as of last Saturday morning he is now not 5.3 miles away, but 1093 miles away (yep, I google mapped it) in Indianapolis, IN.

As his gift to me before he left, however, he vowed to fulfill one of my resolutions with me.  And, what better way to bid farewell to your fair city than to explore it as a tourist?  The rules were simple, if it came recommended by any local, we would do it, as long as it fit into our budget. And thus began…

Resolution 3: Be a Tourist in (Our) Own City

Even as a seasoned Austinite, I’d never heard of Franklin Barbeque, but evidently it’s kind of a big deal.  And, by “kind of” I mean its a really big deal.  Its gotten publicity all over the city, state, and even the nation and anyone who HAS heard of it will tell you that its well worth getting in line at 9:30 a.m. and waiting the two and a half hours to get in for lunch.  You heard that right.

I couldn’t figure out why we needed to leave at 10 a.m. to get lunch, but when we arrived at 10:30, we were greeted by a line that already looked like this:

But after finally getting inside the door (and narrowly missing a torrential downpour of rain!) the smell of dry rub, cracked pepper and pounds and pounds of smoked meat whisked any question of this place’s worth straight out the door behind us.

At the front of the line, we piled our trays with pulled pork, turkey, brisket, sausage and the very last 3 ribs in existence for the day, since they close when they sell out.  Lucky us.

Let me just say, that the brisket here is legendary.  I mean, I’m no expert, but I’ve had a lot of barbecue in Texas, and this stuff nearly knocked me off my bench.  Especially paired with ESPRESSO BARBECUE SAUCE. Also, I usually preach that a barbecue joint is no place for white meat, but the turkey here ended up being my favorite part. Don’t knock the white meats at this place.

So, with full bellies and warm barbecue smoked hearts, we set off for more tourism.

And where do tourists start but the Austin Visitor’s Center?

We perused the pamphlets and rifled with knick knacks, finally finding ourselves at the counter where a cheerful gentleman recommended a 90 minute sightseeing tour with Austin Overtures.

With clouds that threatened to soak us at any moment and no idea where to start, an enclosed van that promised to show us Austin as we’ve never seen it before sounded like a brilliant starting point. So, we picked up our boarding passes and headed out to the van with our tour guide Chris…5 other inconsequential tourists…and, much to Jake’s delight, 2 model-worthy Australian chicks. Who says sightseeing is for fuddy-duddy tourists only? Certainly not these guys:

Our timing turned out to be perfect, because as soon as we took off the rain started falling, and while you’d think that it would kind of put a damper on things it was actually quite nice.  Driving in the rain is already pleasant, but to have someone else driving in the rain while you see some of the most beautiful sights in Austin is even nicer.

The tour was impressive.  We went all the way out to the hill country, which is arguably one of my favorite parts of Austin.  Rolling hills, giant mansions, and some of the best nature views in the city. Then came back through UT Campus to learn about the school, the stadium, and the sculptures and art around campus. Back around downtown we checked out 6th street and the warehouse district.

I’ve been in Austin almost all my life and learned things about our fair city that I’d have never known. Some history, some sites I’ll have to come back to later (since the van didn’t stop anywhere), and most importantly some amazing little dives that came recommended by our guide. Turns out the east side, which I have vehemently avoided since–well, forever–has some of the best food and margaritas in the city.

Back at the visitors center we had to take a short break for some of Jake’s work business but came right back up to make a visit to the Museum of the Weird, which came recommended by Jake’s mother Holly.

The Museum of the Weird sits right on 6th street inside the Lucky Lizard gift shop, which is a pretty fantastic site on its own, but if you shell out the extra $8 you get access to shrunken heads, real human skeletons, large lizards, mutated animals, mummies, an apartment that used to be inhabited by Johnny Depp (who knew?) and a side show.

The sideshow was worth the $8 just by itself.  This guy…well, he makes any and all of my masochistic friends look like pansies. He got straight down to business by thrusting his entire hand into a raccoon trap, having audience members tug and pull at it to prove it was real.  Then, after a gruesome tale of tongues turning to something resembling hamburger meat, he wasted no time snapping his tongue into a mouse trap. THEN…as if it wasn’t enough that we could see him bleeding onto his shirt, he managed to hammer a large metal spike into his nasal cavity, and finished off the day by hanging a large crab from his eyelids by two fish hooks and having each and every one of us come up for a photo op (seen above).

It was slightly nauseating, but purely incredible, especially to that little creature in me that has a soft spot for the weird and messed up.

Next up, a trip down South Congress to check out the recommendation from our sightseeing tour guide: trying on some cowboy boots at Allen’s.  Because, you know, it’s Texas

Here were mine…

I swear I would have bought them if I’d had any money left at all when we got there.

And what boots wouldn’t be complete without trying on some hats to match?

I truly feel like I won’t be a real Texan until I go back and purchase those boots.  I don’t know how I’ve held out on the cowboy boot thing for so long, but I’ve never even owned a pair..

Post boot-shopping we just had one more stop to make.  The local-famous Big Top Candy Shop where we picked up bulk candy and an egg creme for the ride home.

There are so many fantastic shops on South Congress, but after a long day of tourism, the candy shop was our number one priority and the one where you can really get the Austin flavor.  Ha!  See what I did there…?

There are so many more things to see and do in Austin, but we were touristed out by the time our candy was paid for. It’s really amazing how much of your city you don’t see, even when you live there. People always take for granted the things that have always been there, and the things that always will be, but playing tourist showed me that there’s always something you haven’t seen, and always something you haven’t learned.

So never stop seeking out something new, even when you think you’ve seen it all. Everyone thinks about how big the world is, how much there is to do and experience, but it’s easy to forget that even without going outside of the city limits there’s a whole world to see just within arm’s reach.

[Resolution] #81 Do Something I’ve Always Been Afraid to Do (Roller Coaster Edition)

Ready for a profound metaphor?  Life is a roller coaster. Specifically this one.

I find it just a little poetic and a lot hilarious that the biggest roller coaster ride of my life would involve actual roller coasters. And, at the age of 23, thanks to a couple of amazing and unrelenting friends, I boarded, rode and survived my very first roller coaster ride. Ever.

On the metaphorical roller coaster: Life has absolutely done a 180 on me. I know I mentioned in my last post that there were big things going on…and then disappeared for a while.  It’s a long story and a short one all at the same time, but the short version is that Nick, my boyfriend of almost 3 years, and I have broken up.  I don’t necessarily want to go in to the nitty gritty, but it was such a life changer that I know is worth mentioning.

I’ve changed a lot in 3 years. I’ve woken up to aspects of myself that I didn’t know existed and remembered aspects that I’d forgotten or let go of and shouldn’t have. In short, it was all of these things that banded together to drive a wedge between Nick and I.  While we never stopped getting along and certainly never stopped loving each other, as more time passed the more questionable our compatibility became. This was mostly based on the way we both looked at life. More importantly, it was about the way that we both saw our lives going.  We had different visions. And, while there are ways to sacrifice and ways to compromise, the foundation of any successful relationship, there are some points where it is better on both sides…to let go, and give both of us the chance to find someone we are truly happy and compatible with.

People either say “Good for you for being true to yourself.” or “What were you thinking?” but all I can say at this point is that the decision felt right then, and still does now.  While it breaks my heart to hurt anyone, and hurts even more to lose someone I was so close to for so long, I have to trust my instincts and intuition, and trust that it’s for the best.  If I don’t, what business did I have doing it in the first place?

It’s a journey that I don’t think anyone is ever particularly excited to take. Though, as more and more people talked to me and gave me their best advice the more stories came up that showed that even though it ALWAYS hurts to have a relationship end…it does get better. And when you eventually do find that person that you are unquestionably meant to be with, you can’t be upset that it happened.

Now, the roller coaster metaphor kind of applies to all that, but it applies even more to the aftermath of the whole thing.  As soon as all was said and done, I realized that I had thought through every word of the actual break-up and not even given a sliver of thought to what would happen after. The emotional.  The logistical (especially difficult since we lived together). Even the physical.

It’s amazing the things that happen when any part of your foundation gives way. Walls that you didn’t know you had fall and expose parts of you that may have otherwise been lost, both good and bad, light and dark.  But after those walls fall you are forced to rebuild, reinvent and grow.

Of course, right as I realized that was when (not so coincidentally) a lot new things started happening, a lot of old interests were reignited, and new people started walking into my life. Some people were acquaintances that suddenly became much closer and some people I didn’t know at all but got close to pretty damn fast.

Dru is one of the latter. We met…in a cage fight where he had to prove himself worthy of friendship by besting me in a no-holds-barred battle of bare fists and…

Okay..Cage fighting isn’t one of those new things. That’s a picture from a zombie bar crawl, but I wanted an excuse to use the picture. Epic battle or not, he became a close friend pretty fast and immediately jumped in to help cheer me up when things got difficult.

A week or so into the whole thing I finally caved and had to take a personal day from work.  …And on that day, instead of dimming the lights and eating Double Stuf Oreos, Dru and his beautiful friend Ajay who had come into town for the week brought me along with them…to Six Flags.  What better way to cheer up than scaring the shit out of yourself with giant roller coasters. Am I right?

Like I said, I had never stepped foot on a roller coaster in my life. I was a very strange, very scared little child and absolutely refused to take part in anything that I perceived as something that could potentially end my life.  This included, among other things, roller coasters, rope swings, and eating chicken wings at Chili’s, but that’s a story for another day.  Anyway, no roller coasters.

I don’t know what I was afraid of.  I half expected to get to the front of the line for the roller coaster and burst into tears…or vomit.  I guess it kind of helped that there was almost no line at all, so I didn’t even have much time to psyche myself out about it.  We hopped on, strapped in, and before I could say “This is a terrible idea” I was diving, spinning and flipping upside down 100 feet off the ground.

Whoa.

Roller coasters.

How did I possibly live so long without you?

I de-boarded that thing with an adrenaline rush like nothing I’ve ever felt.  Just enough adrenaline to spend the next 8 hours riding every. single. ride. in that park.  All the roller coasters.  Log rides. All the spinny, g-force, free fall, crazy rides.  We even went back and waited in the longer lines to sit in the front car to get maximum terror.

Seriously, I love them so much I’m almost willing to go give rope swings and Chili’s Chicken Wings another shot. 🙂

…We also paused to hang out with Bugs and Daffy and play with all the toys in the souvenir shop.

The night ended with fireworks and late night pancake puppies at Denny’s (seriously, if you haven’t had them before, go now).

While things certainly aren’t easy right now, and of course the difficult stuff never completely leaves the back of your mind, it was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time.  Perhaps the concoction of facing fears, adrenaline overload, new friends, and mild heat exhaustion is the magic combination? I don’t know, but it gave me the optimism I needed to get through the difficult times and excited to see what lies on the other side of it all.

Here’s to that “year of change” everyone was talking about.  And here’s to finally realizing that no matter what your plan is, you’re never ACTUALLY going to know what’s coming next.