Up, Up and Apart

Balloon

It’s here. I’ve finally hit the “mid-twenties mark.”

I celebrated my 25th birthday in Venice, which was magical. Eating pasta Bolognese while overlooking the Grand Canal is a moment that I’ll probably refer to for the rest of my life.

“When I was 25, I was wearing a fedora hat and feeding a stray dog bread while looking at Ponte di Rialto …”

I feel like every time I travel, I talk about how my life has been changed forever. This time was no exception, but that deserves it’s own post which will come later; mainly because my sweet grandpa Stanley accompanied me and we spent 14 days traveling through Germany, Austria and Italy.

But I digress.

You know how those more experienced will tell you what to expect for your upcoming birthday?

12? She will grow like a weed!

23? You’ll experience your first hangover.

The day I turned 30, my metabolism changed over night!

At 40, you may have your first mid-life crisis, and you’ll lose your vision at the same time. So splendid!

What about 25? Nothing. It’s the middle child of birthdays. It’s passive; it’s just there. You aren’t changing the world and you aren’t settling down, but you’re just living. It’s not as exciting as 21, and not as dreadful as 30.

So, here I am writing to tell you that things will change. You may not wake up with an epiphany or a crease in your forehead, but day after day you will notice things are marginally different.

You will notice that people are moving on.

One day I woke up and realized that the people that I held near and dear to my heart just weren’t as close as they used to be. Instead of feeling every heart beat and ache together like we used to, we all have found our own path in the world. Group texts of everyone sharing horrid first-date stories have diminished and, instead, are filled with individual tales of dating, wedding dress shopping and traveling. Wednesday nights that were once dedicated to wine and figuring out how to get a promotion are now filled with receptions and work events. Instead of complaining about our jobs, we now actually fit in and are most likely the root of frustration with those our junior. I was so busy fulfilling my own life that I didn’t stop to realize that my friends were doing the exact same thing.

It’s a strange feeling to one day realize that while everyone was diligently moving, things ended up a bit rattled and aren’t fitting together just like they used to. You’re not going to fully understand why your friends are so invested in their job or love life and they aren’t going to understand why you aren’t devoted to the things they find important.

So while this may seem disheartening, it is also OK.

The shift from being an early-twenty-year-old to a semi-functioning adult is so gradual that you may not realize it until you meticulously look at each detail that got you from point A to point B. Like riding in a hot air balloon, you see what is behind you, but you’re not exactly sure where you’re going to land. And that is part of the excitement.

Falling in Love in London

London

I walked into a strange bar, in a strange city, and sat down beside a strange stranger.

“It’s my birthday in two hours!” I declared.

After only knowing him for two hours, I told him to be ready by 8:45 am the next day and that we had an adventure planned. He agreed with a kiss, and little did I know what I was in for the next day.

The thing about strangers is that you start with a blank slate. They don’t know how awkward you looked with braces in 7th grade, and you don’t know why they had a falling out with their best friend in high school. So, you get to express everything to them with no judgment, lack of compassion or distracted ears and eyes. For that moment, the universe is revolving around you and them, them and you; time is almost standing still.

In the midst of this rotating circle of shared words, glimmering eyes and a chance of strangers turned friends, you learn. You share philosophies, interests, and concepts. You see the world bigger than any imaginable sphere you could have pictured, and in turn, your thoughts become larger.

“You cannot place your happiness in the hands of others,” he said.

You cannot place your happiness in the hands of others, I repeated.

And then it hit me. For the past two years, I have been so concerned with others – making sure my friends are happy, or that I am pleasing my family, or that I am doing better than expected in my job – that it has made me lose focus on myself. Following others, whether it be moving for someone, or simply not sticking up for oneself, isn’t going to produce a life that you want to live. Maybe we need to fall in love with ourselves and follow our own path for a while, and eventually we’ll meet someone who is following his or her selves as well. Maybe that is how you find your people.

And over four days, a stranger turned into a lesson. A lesson so unexpected that you didn’t know you were learning, or supposed to be learning, until the bell rings and you’re dismissed.

After four days of simple conversations, kisses that would stay on a street in London and invaluable moments that can’t possibly be put into words, you learn how to say goodbye.

“Will I ever see you again?” I asked him.

“Maybe one day . . .” he smirked.

I gave him a last kiss knowing that I would probably never see him again, and I smiled. By chance, I traveled 3,662 miles to meet a stranger who taught me that the best way to fall in love is to fall in love with your life.

The Certainty of Uncertainty

blank paper

I come and go in phases. One moment I’m feeling like the world is my oyster –everything I want to go right is going right. Another moment, I’m feeling down – everything that I want to go right is, in fact, going left, and then I question why I’m turning right in the first place. And once I make the turn, I’m back, and the world is back and it’s my oyster again.

Through this I’ve discovered two things: I don’t know my lefts and rights that well, and I don’t like oysters.

It’s really easy to write when you’re confused. You have a blank sheet that is willing to listen to the arrangement of words and sentences that you want to tell someone but you just can’t. The blank sheet listens and doesn’t give advice or tell you that you should have actually turned left. The blank sheet doesn’t give you any uncertainty about what you’re writing. You want to type this out? Do it. I’m going to be here for you, however long it takes.

But people are not blank sheets, and life and uncertainty go hand in hand.

Let’s talk about that.

I think I moved to the most uncertain place in America during a period of possibly the most uncertain time in my life. Oh wait, that’s actually called being in your early-twenties. Oops. I know you people feel me.

It never occurred to me that maybe this isn’t going to work out. Maybe I had to come here to figure out that when adults preached that you were supposed to have a “life plan,” they were actually just saying arbitrary strings of encouragement to enforce a graduation rate. Maybe answering the age-old question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with “I have no friggin’ clue,” is perfectly acceptable. Maybe you are supposed to become attached to people only for them to leave you. Maybe all of this is how we figure it out.

We are never going to see the domino effect of events that led us here. The uncertainty of why things happen will always remain. And I’m not sure if there’s a reason to search for the answer; maybe that will just cause more confusion.

I’m not certain, but I think I’m on to something: Life is full of uncertainty.

Maps

maps2

I’m somewhere in between a Come-To-Jesus moment and Quarter-Life Crisis – or perhaps they are two of the same, depending on how you look at it.

Lately, things have happened that have made me run into Nostalgia, Happiness, Sadness and Wonder all on the same street corner.  Hey there, fancy meeting you all here. At the same time. Right at this moment.

I used to think that I was not an emotional person. I’ve lost, succeeded, and remained stationary all while barely blinking. And then I picked up my life and graduated and lost important people and made new friends and realized that little things and big things alike do not necessarily make you happy. And also learned that life is one big run-on sentence.

I have spent a majority of my past two years learning to navigate a map.

A “How to Figure Out What You Want to Do With The Rest of Your Life” map

A “How to Make New Friends in a Large City” map

A “How To Pick The Best Wine for the Least Amount of Money” map (that one is located in Trader Joe’s in case you’re wondering.)

A “How to Move On” map

A “How to Learn to Love Again” map

had a plan. I used to have a plan that was so detailed it was almost scary. Don’t get me wrong, I knew my life wouldn’t map out perfectly, but at least I had a map. Then one day I woke up and everything changed. My old map disappeared and I haven’t quite been able to interpret my new one.

I want someone to read the map and say, “You need to go in this direction, and when you get to the intersection of X and Y, go left and you’ll find it – whatever it is.”

Being in your early-twenties is truly confusing. You’re at a weird place that is between trying to remember why you chose the path you did and having hope that the big picture will soon make an appearance. You find yourself laughing and crying, usually at the same time accompanied by cheap alcohol. And you find yourself constantly planning for the next best thing, whatever that may be.

So in the meantime, all we can do is read our maps the best we can and hope a great thing is around the corner.

The Tell-Tale Walls of an Apartment

Moving to a rather large city can be frustrating. On top of the emotion from leaving one place and moving to another, we are also forced to deal with getting a job, meeting new people, conquering the DMV, and then of course, finding an apartment.

When I moved to D.C., I hadn’t the slightest clue at a price range, neighborhood or what was acceptable to live in, so I turned to Craigslist. I soon realized that 1) I couldn’t afford anything, 2) descriptions of apartments were completely inaccurate and 3) I still couldn’t afford anything.

Thus, I settled on a tiny apartment located a block from the Library of Congress. In theory, this was going to be a “happily-ever-after” story, but what’s an epic tale without a dramatic plot?

Hot water tank, enter stage right.

During the first month, I took ice-cold showers. I complained to my roommate, I complained to my parents, I complained to everyone who would listen to me. “Wake up earlier,” they said. “You have a small hot water tank.”

Normal people would just open their utility closet and check to see if the pilot light was out, or even check to see the size of their hot water tank. But, here’s the kicker: the closet had a lock on it and someone threw away the key.

If I had been looking for a sign, here it was. And, if you’re wondering the outcome of my hot water situation, the hot water tank was on vacation mode, because apparently life is a beach.   

Moving on.

My kitchen was decorated in the sweet shades of metal and cork board, just incase you wanted to hang your latest art work. Counter space was nonexistent, so we usually dried our dishes on top of the washer. Our dryer actually hung from the ceiling and had a timer – that’s it. It usually took three 40-minute cycles to dry three towels. And, in my belief, the microwave was on loan from the “That 70s Show” set.  It only had a timer and it loudly “ding-ed” when your food was ready. Normal.

The crime scene
The crime scene

Note: If I die of cancer, please blame the microwave.

But, as they say, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Or, in my case, “When you radiate your food, you will probably turn into a robot.”

So, that is enough of a picture for you to get the hint that my first time apartment hunting was quite eventful and rather unsuccessful. However, I survived and on the bright side I am now prepared to be a contestant on “Fear Factor.”

Great news, though, folks! There are companies out there that serve as a matchmaking service for you and your apartment. So you can check out neighborhoods and see their pros and cons before you even have to relocate. Genius, right? I think so.  And, if you’re thinking about moving to D.C., Urban Compass  – an apartment-to-human matchmaking service – will soon be offering their services to the district. So, definitely check them out and let them assist you with your apartment hunting.

Be sure to share your hilarious apartment mishaps with me – I need to know that I wasn’t alone in this struggle.

The Diary of a Perpetually Cold Person

Me and my Dad on the "Eve  the Heat Stopped Working." Notice the smiles.
Me and my Dad on the “Eve the Heat Stopped Working.” Notice the smiles.

Y’all, it is cold.

I woke up this morning, shimmied on my tights, slipped on a silk dress, grabbed a pea coat, walked out the door and then realized that I forgot a winter staple:

SOCKS.

The combination of 40-degree weather, rain and the fact that I walk to work about pushed me over the edge. Now, I know that 40-degrees isn’t equivalent to the weather happening in Colorado, but I basically feel like I’m living in the Tundra.

Those of you who know me know that my current state of hypothermia comes as no surprise. My parents realized that I may or may not have a circulation issue when I wore a sleeveless, wool turtleneck and a pair of jeans when I was around 11-years-old… to a Labor Day party. After many a questions making sure that I felt all right and that I did realize it was approximately 102-degrees outside, my parents just accepted that fact that I am always freezing.

And let’s not forget last year when my heater broke in my first apartment, which was actually the most expected thing that happened during that long, cold year. When I woke up to wood floors that were so icy I peed my long johns a little bit, I called my landlord. He suggested, and I kid you not, that my roommate and I huddle together to stay warm.

Excuse me, Houston, we have a problem.

Needless to say, Poppa Sears got on the phone and left Mr. Landlord a very lovely message that said something along the lines of, “I am calling you, sir, simply to warn you: Hell hath no fury like a cold woman.”

Wham-bam-thank you, ma’am. The icicles slowly melted from my nose and all was warm in my heart and soul.

So, back to this morning. My sweet roommate knows that for the sake of everyone whom I come in contact with, it is best to warn me of extreme (read: anything other than sunshine) weather. As I was blow-drying my feet to prepare them for the day ahead of them, Sally forewarned me, “It’s Devin Cold outside today, so wear some socks.” Which actually means, “Normal people can endure this weather, but you, my friend, may want to wear a parka.”

Moral of this ramble: If I were a contestant on “Survivor”, I’d be the first one voted off the island.

Life Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to Take Sake Bombs

largeIt all started with sake bombs. Every Thursday, my best gals and I get together to eat dinner, bitch about our week, praise our accomplishments, talk about our love lives (or lack thereof) and give advice and new perspectives to every situation that comes each other’s way.

It’s kind of like our version of “Sex and the City,” except we can’t afford expensive brunches or clothing, our apartments (read: our closets) are not comparable to any in the show, and we actually have no idea what we are doing and where we are going in this game called life.

Approximately two months ago, I made a pact to myself that I was not going to let anyone else be a part of my life that wasn’t genuine. I was really tired of having acquaintances that didn’t actually care about me and only compared their lives to mine via social media. I finally realized that in a world that only socializes over happy hours and only cares about who you work for, it’s better to have quality versus quantity.

After eliminating the toxic people in my life, I can say that I am the happiest that I have been in a long time. I’m just kind of taking things in. Letting them come to me as they happen. It’s a wonderful feeling – you should try it.

It took me two years of breakups, new romances, horrible ovens and shag carpet to realize that life isn’t perfect. There are just some things that are simply out of our control. Bad things are going to happen and great things will follow, and we just have to take them in.

In a world that is challenging us to constantly want more, we need to realize that what we need, whether that be an answer or a genuine friend, is usually right in front of us.

So, back to the sake. As I sat at a table with a group of friends who didn’t know one another before moving to this city, it dawned on me that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. When you look around your life and realize that you a have a few quality friends who are there for you when you get a new job or when you are going through a heartbreak, you realize that life is better than good.