25.

25 is drawing to a close.

I feel old, but in the way where I also feel like I know absolutely nothing about much.

My 20s have basically been an odd little experience so far.

A lot of, “Wait what?”

A lot of expectations met in the worst of ways but also a good amount of learning to trust my intuition.

It’s been weird.

I’ve learned that it’s okay that my life looks different than a lot of people I know, but haven’t quite made peace with it.

This little corner of the world I’m carving looks beautiful, but still never looks like any daydream I’ve ever had.

I’ve learned that people surprising me in the worst ways is sometimes also synonymous with them surprising themselves in the best. Occasionally my feelings are collateral damage and I am not always the center of the universe.

But it’s still okay to take note when people are jerks.

I’ve learned that God is good. I try to run away from him so often, but he’s working in my heart and life so much at the same time. I’m thankful that he knows me best, including my capacity to run away from a lot. I’m thankful for his patience when I surely would have walked away. His plan seems like the worst at the moment. It feels lonely and uncomfortable but I’m certain He will deliver in his time. All the while, he’s around with a hug when I don’t understand.

Which is most of the time, really.

I’ve learned that sometimes bad guys finish first and occasionally it’s okay to not hate those guys completely. They can be friends. Just don’t date them.

I’ve learned that friendships change when you move across the country, but good people abound. Hold each one close in their own special way.

I’ve learned to try and appreciate each day for what it is.

Mostly because I don’t know where they keep going.

Rules

I am the kind of person who craves structure because I enjoy resisting it; I like rules because I often want to break them, but like the stability of their existence.

I often make up rules for myself that are really arbitrary. How I eat. When I wake up. Things I do as I get ready. I don’t stick with them all that much, or really often at all. But as a consequence of my conditioning and the way I was raised, I like them to be there.

The grey areas in life are hard for me to comprehend most of the time. I am naturally drawn to most things that are hard to understand and kind of complicated because I think they’re interesting, but do my best to stay away from them because they contradict many of the rules I make for myself. I am also still young and probably filled with a bit of angst, which I know explains a lot of my decisions, as well.

I’m sitting here tonight though, wondering, do the grey areas get larger or smaller as I get older? It seems as I learn the things I can handle and the things I dislike in life, they should get smaller, but they don’t seem to do anything but grow.

And I suppose I’m just wondering is all. You know, how life works.

 

 

Valentine’s Day

Being single on Valentine’s feels good.

I can only think of a handful of Valentine’s Days when I wasn’t single, to be honest. But I’ve still spent so many of them pretty sad.

It doesn’t feel good because I feel acutely aware of how wonderful it is to be single. In fact, the opposite. I believe we were made to desire partners, and that’s been on my mind lately. My life often looks different than I imagined it would, in the most wonderful ways, but this is the area where I notice the difference between daydreams and reality most.

This wasn’t what I planned.

I’ve spent a lot of years, a lot of Valentine’s Days, many Christmases and often birthdays wondering what exactly I’ve done to ensure I’ve spent so many holidays alone. There have been, proportionately, many of them. Thanks to several bottles of wine I’ve come up with virtually every personality flaw that’s contributed.

But this year I’ve been working pretty hard on myself. Trying to be someone I enjoy – and I don’t really mean that to have the self-deprecating air that it likely does while reading – I just mean I want to be better. I want to have a pretty heart with good desires. I want to love so much that it overcomes the bad things that seep in sometimes. I want to make a mark on the world with the love I put into it.

So I’ve been trying. Trying has felt pretty selfish. Trying has turned into learning, which has manifested itself in strange ways. Because loving the world in an adequate way starts with really loving myself first, and I’ve had to learn a few things and really get to know myself to do that. Which means I flew across the country once to see a guy who didn’t really feel the same, but I learned I’m capable of sticking up for my heart. One time it looked like kissing a boy in a bar then never seeing him again because he asked why he had to initiate plans (because I’m worth it is the answer). Other times it’s looked like yoga classes I can’t afford and spontaneous vacations with best friends. Sometimes it’s looked like saying things I regret just to figure out what exactly triggers certain reactions. It’s looked like standing in an ocean that radiates love just to realize what a powerful force it can be. Once last week it was a sunset, when I realized how much i value that kind of beauty. Learning has been an experience.

So, no, single on Valentine’s is never what I planned. But it doesn’t feel bad. It feels like love for myself and things I value, and eventually someone will get that, too.

On relationships with parents as a 20-something.

“Oh God, I sound like my mother.”

A phrase women have said for probably forever, with the smallest hint of terror in their voices. That’s the first feeling, at least, followed by an overwhelming sense of comfort.

For me, at least.

My mother drives me crazy, as mothers often will, but she’s a kind woman who sacrificed a lot of things for me, and she means well with her advice — no matter how frustrating it can be.

In the past year, I’ve said the phrase less. The thing is, I realized I’m really not turning into my mother. Sometimes I wish I was.

A few months ago I woke up at 4 in the morning, loaded the dog in the car and drove a few hours away to go on a hike by myself. I called my mom later in the day to tell her how amazed I was at the sunrise I saw on a country road in the middle of nowhere, about my dog collapsing in protest at the top of the mountain and the detour I took through small towns when I turned off my GPS to see where I would up. I expected her to be horrified. I thought she would scold me for driving around in the middle of the night alone. I assumed she would tell me how dangerous it is to go on a hike by myself. I was waiting for her to tell me it’s odd for a young girl to stop at abandoned motels to take pictures of them.

But she didn’t. She told me I was adventurous and she didn’t think she would ever do anything like that alone.

And in that moment, I realized I’m not turning into my mom. Not at all. And there’s a part of me that’s very sad about that — honestly, when I think about the daydreams I had when I was five, these weren’t them. They were of my mom’s life — of the earliest view of normal I had.

I do love my life very much. The past year has exceeded every expectation I could have set for it. I am baffled by how blessed I’ve been and how much God has taken care of me.

But sometimes I struggle with what my life isn’t.

A month or so ago I was talking through an issue I was having during a phone call with her — to which my mom responded, “Well this is the life you chose.”

I immediately found a reason to hang up.

Because in some ways it is, but so much of my life hasn’t felt like a choice. It’s felt like a need. To prove something to myself, mostly.

In my head at that moment, it sounded to me like she was saying I actively chose not to have certain things — like someone walked up to me on the street, asked whether I’d like to do things the easy way or the hard way and I said, “Hey, yeah, being single sounds good. Companionship is for the birds. Kids? Who needs ’em. Give me that long way around! I can’t wait!”

It’s not ever been a choice. It’s just where my heart has ended up.

It took me awhile to realize, though, that’s not what she meant. She didn’t really mean anything negative — my mom’s just never lived this life. My life is as foreign to my mother as having a two-year-old is to me.

Neither is wrong. Just different.

And maybe one day I will turn into my mother.

 

 

A lot of words about dreams (also known as memories of last year)

I’ve been thinking of life in terms of dreams lately — not the big, ambiguous kind that fuel desires and achievements. An actual dream – a set of many details, capable of being forgotten in a second; in the time it takes to wake up.

I can remember the dreams I had last night — a horrifyingly nerdy tale of forgetting to do a menial task at work, one that I’ve remembered successfully every day.

I remember one from last week about a boy, but that one’s fairly common.

I occasionally remember nightmares from years past, as I assume everyone does — the terrifying kind where bad things happen and I’m just looking in on the whole thing, questioning why I’m still stuck in the dream and why I’m doing nothing to stop any of it. Unsure why my subconscious is doing this tonight.

I even remember the recurring dream I had when I was a kid, that a witch was going to sweep through my bedroom window and steal me. (This happened often enough that 20 years later, it’s still ingrained in my psyche).

But the color of the sky behind the witch is long gone from my memory. I remember that boy’s face, but not the color of the shirt he was wearing. I know the task I forgot last night, but not its importance in regards to my day. These details fade momentarily.

I like writing things down, but often don’t. Because what I have to say is less than exceptional; a thought we’ve all had a million times that won’t matter much in the grand scheme of things. It certainly won’t change the world.

But life is a bit like a dream. I’ve forgotten many of the things I have to say that I didn’t bother to write down. And there’s a longing in the bottom of my heart to say each one of those things, long after I don’t remember any of them.

I didn’t write much down about 2015, because I felt like it didn’t matter much anyway. I said the things that did matter to people around me, and I thought as long as I’ve spoken it into the world, it happened and it will be remembered. That’s not the way it works, though, and I’ve been a bit sad about my decision to do so for most of the year.

I’ve taken many pictures. One for most of the days of last year. But the smiles, the laughs, the tears that happened in the course of the year aren’t remembered.

In 20 years, I may remember the joy I felt driving across Maine at 6 in the morning as the sun came up by looking at a picture I took during that trip, but maybe I won’t. It was the feeling of being alive in the most pure way possible – I spent the night before with my best friend, on a pitch-black coastal road in Maine that ended in a small fishing village. We spent the night with strangers in a beach house, laying across rocks and staring at the most beautiful stars I’ve ever laid eyes on. I talked about God with a guy I just met, who probably would have spent the entire speech contemplating how crazy I was if he had been a little more sober. Three hours later, driving through tiny towns as they woke for the day, I felt love. From God. From the universe. From anything that can possibly send love. It was one giant hug, a reminder that I’m doing okay.

I hope to remember the ocean the day before. Standing in the middle of rocks so intricately carved, I don’t see how anyone can question the existence of God. I felt small, in the way that we all hope to feel small. In the way that reminded me things are bigger than I could ever imagine and any hurt in my heart is even more minuscule than I, so it must certainly disappear much sooner than I’ll cease to exist.

I hope I remember the moment a friend looked at me and said, “It turned out just like you planned, right?” His sarcasm in discussing the way my life is going filled me with nothing but happiness — this is certainly not what I ever envisioned, but I’m thankful to have people along the way who understand me.

There was a fleeting moment or two this year when I proved myself worthy — to myself. Some people don’t struggle with this, but I’ll never know what it’s like to be them. There were a few moments this year when I was fully and completely proud of myself, and that’s progress.

In less time than it takes to forget these things, I’ll have forgotten the bad about 2015 — the growing pains. Life is easier when we romanticize it; so much so that I can’t even bring myself to write any of the specifics down. That was my plan, with writing my favorite moments down. I’d also write down the bad, because that’s where the lessons come from — but I’d really rather I just remember the lessons. That’s what I’ve learned most about getting older — the general idea of the bad thing is a better memory than the details, and that’s the way it was all designed for a reason.

I do hope I remember the lessons I learned from those growing pains, though, because they hurt quite a bit. I’d like to remember to trust my intuition; to stay away from things that aren’t good for me; to take the long road if possible (not because of any virtuous reason, just because I’m stubborn and seem to like figuring out the answers on my own); and I hope I remember to be kind.

I also hope I’ll remember to write down the details more in 2016.

Saturday.

I’ve been trying to stay positive lately.

Positive isn’t always what I’m naturally inclined to feel. Sometimes negative seems easier. But I’ve really tried to stick with positive because negative is grating after awhile. It’s easier until it becomes constant, and then you’re stuck in this negative place you can’t get out of — and I didn’t want that, so I’ve been doing my best to avoid negative.

But I’m just going to give myself a few minutes to acknowledge it, because it seems necessary and it’s been hanging out in my heart for awhile and I’m ready for it to go away.

My life isn’t bad. It’s good. I have a place to live, a job that pays my bills, a car — or in this specific moment, at least an insurance company, and I have friends that love me.

But it’s just not great.

I love my job. It’s my dream. I couldn’t be happier in that specific area, so I have nothing to add to that area. I like where I live and I’ve never really been good at defining happiness by things in that respect, so that’s also fine. I’ve gotten in two car accidents in the past two weeks (neither of which my fault) and my car is currently not drivable, but I normally love it.

But people. I just feel like I keep getting punched in the stomach over my relationships with other people and I just want them to be easy. Or at least feel comfortable for a second.

I came home yesterday after my accident and realized I had no one to call. My roommate was out of town. If something had actually, I don’t know that anyone would know.

I have amazing friends. I do. But most of them live hours away. No one knows what I do from day to day and so I’m slowly falling out of regular contact with all of them. I’m not mad at anyone about it — moving was my choice. I just miss having friends who know me.

That’s not to say I don’t have friends here. I do, and I’m very thankful for all of them. But friendships take time and years and I just haven’t had that here — and everyone honestly already has their own lives. And sometimes that’s a bummer.

And I guess really this all comes down to being a little lonesome. Which happens, I guess. I just figured maybe acknowledging it would make it go away.