A Homecoming

I've once heard it said that the best part about leaving home is being able to come back. As someone who returned home this past weekend, I have to say this is all too true. With a homecoming comes a feeling of familiarity that makes even the sleepiest of towns suddenly magical. Every sidewalk, highway, airport terminal... you realize that you once had your life play out here. The pages of your story were drafted in the place you call your hometown. A homecoming should set your soul on fire.

This best describes the past weekend for me. I came home full of expectations, hopes, dreams, and some news to share. My plane rides home are always full of anticipation, but this one takes the cake. You never know what will take place at a stage revisited. 

My best friends picked me up and driving down old highways we played our songs and spoke of the last time we were all together. We were in awe at how things had changed and yet our love for one another had only grown. It is through growing up that we see our friends as family; the champions of our heartbreak and the soothing voices at dawn. There is something about coming back to a town that calls you "one of their own." It's one of the best things I have experienced. It is unconditional community.

Lounging out on the deck with signature sangria, we discussed the latest and debated the now. Once upon a summer night we sat around these trees musing about prom problems, and now here we are talking of new engagements, new careers, and new lives. In a photo we look so adult. We've learned how to dress and that eye liner should be used sparingly. But in the middle of a dinner in Chicago you'll see the old characters come out to play. You'll hear the women who met as girls laugh at jokes while basking in the beauty of a ten year friendship. We each travel far now to reconvene our miniature congress of femininity and friendship. But where there is love, there is a way. And on a Saturday night in Chicago I was reminded just how special I am to have been given such a gift. 

After all, a homecoming is only as good as the home you come back to.



My 24th Monologue

In ten days I'll be turning the big twenty-five. It's as if the world put a touch base on my calendar and the meeting subject says: Your 25th Anniversary. I can hear the conversation now...

"Well you've been with Earth Corporation for quarter of a century.. what do you have to show for it? 

I fully plan on relaxing in my seat and with a smile in reply,

"Well where shall I begin?"

Now I haven't saved any babies. And I haven't built homes for the homeless. But there are some things I've done and experienced that I either:

A) Never thought would happen.
B) Never thought I could do.

And I think that's pretty cool.

There have been things in this year alone that would make me argue twenty-four is the new coming of age. Twenty-four is where your life turns upside down. You're running around feeling homeless because you're not old enough to feel like an college alum and you're not young enough to act like you're in college. Clearly the latter is not felt by everyone I know. But I digress.

Every year at my birthday dinner, surrounded by friends, I give a birthday toast to the year that has gone by and the people sharing and celebrating in the day I was born. I give thanks and usually it ends with a few tears (mostly mine). And while I fully plan on delivering that toast this year... words...mere words cannot express the life change that was my twenty fourth year with Earth Corp. I want to have these words written down so that someday a twenty-four year old somewhere may stumble upon this and say, "Oh thank god. I'm not mentally unsound."

Because you are most certainly not. You are finding your way. And from a girl who hates to ask for directions, even Google maps could not point me in the right direction. And yet, here I am, 355 days later still kickin and asking for more. Crazy how things just work out.

In my twenty fourth year I moved across the country, said a final goodbye to my Grandfather, started a new job, attended the Accessory Awards in New York, hung out in South Korea, made a new life for myself, while meeting some of the greatest people on this planet. Without them... I would not be the new woman I am today.

So in the spirit of twenty four and in anticipation of the big 2-5, here's a list I compiled of things I believe you need to do when you're twenty-four...(or as Britney Spears would say, not a girl... not yet a womannn...)

1. Travel. Travel. Travel. And I don't mean across the globe. I mean to the town twenty minutes away that you haven't been to yet. Your neighboring state. Hell, go travel to your next door neighbor! But get out there. Meet and connect. Sparks are the best when they're unexpected.

2. Move away from home. You can do it. When I flew from my hometown to my new city I had never been so scared in my life. What if I failed? What if I locked myself out of my apartment? What if I got lost and couldn't find my way back? This actually was a legitimate fear of mine as I still use GPS to get to the grocery store. But do it. You'll get lost. You'll have nights where you beg your friends to visit. And there will be times you think you made a mistake...but you didn't. You're growing up.

3. Challenge your circle. Look at the people you surround yourself with and ask, "Does this group of people reflect the person I am wanting or am currently becoming?" Because as an adult your friends are a reflection of YOU. Choose them wisely and love them intensely.

4. Increase your car knowledge. Learn a little bit about your car, or enough that when you go to get your oil changed that you don't agree to a zillion dollars worth of "repairs." Because I did.

5. Budget. Mistakes are costly...see #4.

6. Find a hobby. Remember that thing you used to do as a kid after school? Start doing that again. Unless its weird... then maybe find a new thing.

7. Celebrate the little wins. At twenty-four there are a lot of little moments when you're just winning, but they come in tiny packages. Enjoy them. Go grab drinks and cheers till you stumble. The little wins get you to tomorrow, and tomorrow could mean something BIG.

8. Accept that your path is not everyone's. I am not getting married. I have a ton of friends who are (can't wait to own that dance floor) and that's ok. People fall in love and agree to forever when they're ready... not because it's next on the To-Do List.

9. Lose your lists. Life is not a "To-Do" list where you get to check everything off. Most of the time (if you're doing it right) you won't get to half of your "to-do's" because life happens. Life cannot be contained to a list. Lists are for groceries. Again, see #8.

10. Be Selfish. This is your time and you're only going to get one shot at life where the only person that matters is you.  When you're improving yourself, you're preparing for the next big adventure. And there is nothing worse than having an adventure show up at your door that you're not ready for.

And in words better than my own, I leave you with this...

"To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents.
What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for 
that which could have been their finest hour."

Be ready. Be loving. Be traveling. Be twenty-four. 

Because if you're not twenty-four, you'll never be ready for twenty-five.



The Break Up

Ever since I was a child, I have lived a life "on the go." I rarely pause and open the doors to my closeted thoughts and emotions. When I feel something unpleasant I put it in the same box that I would an ex boyfriend's possessions. I find some space in my walk in and slip the box neatly in a dimly lit corner and prance on my merry way. I'm a "go-go girl." The problem being that a "go-go girl" doesn't quite know how to stop.

As a young professional I am pleased with the success I've enjoyed over the years. I love the tenacious nature of a board meeting. I thrive under extreme pressure. I promise, plan, and produce. My professional endurance has only increased with each new task and project. Give me a challenge and I can accomplish it, no ifs ands or buts. Just plain results.

When it comes to my personal life, I deal with things in a very similar way. I don't shy away from confrontation, and my passion comes through with the people I both love and dislike. I've been this way since I can remember. I say what I feel when I feel it. You will never hear me say, "I should've said this..." For better or worse it's hard for me to walk away and leave things unsaid. Not surprising, this wasn't always beneficial.  In first grade my teacher pulled me aside,

"Kristin you can't just go telling people you don't like them." 

Strong willed and confident, my green eyes grew wide with surprise and disbelief, 

"Hmm I think I can. I just told him I didn't want to be his Valentine because I don't like him. 
You should say how you feel."

Things were always drawn in black and white, right and wrong; I grew up practicing the art of matter-of-fact so diligently that now it is an instinctual perspective. When people learn this about me they are always surprised...but you're a writer...shouldn't you see the gray? Honestly, I wish I could but reading the gray in life has always been as good as hieroglyphics. And as for the writer part...being a writer only makes it harder. When you're a writer you see things in letters, dialogues, and plots. To an extent, I've always believed that every great story of the human heart has already been lived, now we just relive them with the universe as our narrator. It's the curse and the blessing in being creative. You see the big picture, you see the last line on page 711. You think you know the ending even when you're living in the middle.

At least that's what you tell yourself. Because to admit that you don't know and to wake up in a world of gray (or everything in hieroglyphics) is pretty damn horrifying. Where are the lines? Where's the order to make sense of it all? And... how the hell do I read hieroglyphics?

To my creatively organized mind this is pure anarchy. These moments create speed bumps in my otherwise nascar driver navigation of life. These speed bumps are necessary. They force you to see things that no longer want to stay in the dimly lit corner. And sometimes when you shine a light on them, you may not like what you see. It's a discovery. 

Currently I'm on a journey, albeit not by choice, in finding the beauty in the indirect. The messages written between the ink. Unpacking the possibilities in the unsaid. What an idea.  It is the biggest challenge I have encountered. It goes against the complete "go-go girl" mentality because it demands that you press pause. These discoveries require you to sit with a cup of coffee and slowly chew on air. This usage of time ironically makes me want to grind my teeth. 

I bought some books today to help channel my mind. The woman checking me out at Target questioned me, "You going through a breakup?" I guess two self help books, fresh flowers, and a bottle of wine will give that impression.

I initially answered her with a laugh and assured her that no I wasn't. But the more I sit here and write to you, the more I realize I kind of am. It is the break up between the old and new versions of myself. And much like any break up, it is hard. But one does not need to wait for a crisis to pull the plug on the now and start again tomorrow. Sometimes it means a good cry at the things you leave behind and wide eyes at what may come tomorrow. I don't know what awaits me, but I know it's a better version of myself. And for today--that's enough. My new favorite song says it best, perhaps you've heard it?

"let it go... let it go...that perfect girl is gone."