Last Tuesday, I left NC to drive to New York to visit my family. A week later, on the drive home, I became so nostalgic for the times I've lived with Justin and Nicole and close to Marcus. I thought about living in Brooklyn together and driving just an hour and a half to Connecticut to spend weekends with Marcus. That was when I first watched The Fly and saw Breaking Bad. I thought about living in Chicago, and I realized that was one of my favorite times. We were all in our routines of work or school, staying busy, but spending so much of our free time just hanging out together, watching movies, going to the dog beach, walking around our neighborhood. Nicole and I opened our etsy shop that year and updated it regularly with the best clothes from the thrift stores near our cute garden apartment. I had an amazing set-up for playing music, and I was writing songs and just playing any time I was alone. I didn't love my job, but I loved my coworkers, and I loved dressing up and commuting on the train with beautiful music in my headphones. It was an incredibly precious time in my life.
It was hard driving home with all those memories flooding my brain and the bittersweet taste of the most recent goodbyes still so strong. This was the first time I'd seen Marcus since last fall, and I'd only seen Justin for a brief afternoon since New Year's. I love all of my brothers and my sisters (in law) so much, and I just dream of the day that we all live close enough to see each other regularly.
And of course, it was amazing to spend this trip with my nieces. I feel so fortunate to be living close to them again, and more fortunate still that they were a part of this trip. Hugging them goodbye was difficult, even though I know I'll see them soon. It's a great comfort just knowing how close they and my oldest brother and sister-in-law are. But it was weird to get back in the car alone and drive home after being with the two of them 24/7. It's been amazing to have the experience of knowing two human beings since their birth and getting to watch them grow up. I often feel like they're the little sisters I never had. I am so grateful to have been able to spend so much time with them over the years, and I am even more grateful that they feel so comfortable with me. It means the world to me. I want to always be someone they trust.
I also got to see my friends Alison and Kyler and their baby Aria. They all spearheaded a trip to the Times Square Toys R Us that Jenny and Reagan had been wishing for but that I was vetoing until then. To see my friends make such a fun moment happen and to be reminded of how they are just as much family as my blood relatives was really emotional for me, and I fought back tears multiple times until we were all saying goodbye, at which point I hilariously lost all control while trying to hold onto it.
Now that I've been home for a few days, I feel more accepting of things the way they are. The drive alone from Pfafftown to Carrboro was filled with insecurity, sadness, and anxiety, though all of it was blanketed in love, so it wasn't terrible- just intense. Zero and I are incredibly fortunate to have support here- we've made new friends and reconnected with old friends since moving back to town, and I'm constantly got by everyone's kindness and warmth toward us. But it's (obviously) not the same as that bond with old friends I've known since I was a teenager and family I've known my whole life. My brain is consumed with the most amazing memories of adventures and small moments with these people, and being away from them feels so unnatural.
But I still feel confident in the choices I'm making and the path I am embarking on. I still want to study, and I want to do it here. I love this little town and its cute, creative populace.
Ultimately, what I have come to find, that thing I have found again and again, is that I am beyond fortunate in love. Every single childhood wish I put out into the ether for love has come true a thousandfold. I am fortunate to have people to miss. I am fortunate to have people to visit who are so incredibly generous and loving. I am fortunate to have a partner who supports me and matches my intensity. I am fortunate to be loved and to love, to be in love, to be able to express love. I am fortunate to have animal companions near and far who express their love in the purest of ways. I am fortunate to be able to pursue my dreams of influencing the world in a loving way.
I just want to give back what I am given. My biggest concern is that I am not giving as much as I am receiving. Because I receive so much. Sometimes it can't help but feel like too much. When multiple people are presenting offerings to me, tangible and intangible, I am overwhelmed. What did I do to deserve this? Sometimes the world is completely random. Innocent beings are exploited and murdered. Karma doesn't seem real. Why do I get to experience so much happiness and love and kindness while others are subjected to so much pain? I don't think there's a because. I just do. I don't feel any guilt for what I have, but I do feel responsibility. I can't be lazy. So I'm really happy to be embarking on a path with the goal in mind to help others and the planet.
I surely will experience panic and anxiety in the coming weeks, so it's very important that I document this moment in which I feel so stoked. It feels so good to have such a tangible goal. I'm so excited to reconnect with the nerdy girl in me who always loved school, loved writing and reading and math. I have this photo on my fridge to remind me that she's a part of me:
I know there will be bureaucratic nonsense and arbitrary bullshit and worse things, but I also know there will be fun challenges and inspiring information and beautiful connections, and I'm so grateful to be in a position to be able to make the most of that. My life is changing, and I am happy to be alive, and to be experiencing that change with so much love surrounding me, however far away the source may be.