Back Home Again in Indiana

I realized something as I drove home on Sunday, with the sun setting in my rear view mirror and the Indiana cornfields sprawling for miles in every direction.

This would be my last time coming “home” to Indiana.

Two days before, we signed a lease on an incredible townhouse in one of my favorites neighborhoods in St. Louis. We filled out paperwork, wrote checks, and asked all the important questions like “Do you think the king-sized bed of our dreams will fit up those stairs?” (The answer, sadly, is most likely not.)

Indiana, and Indianapolis in particular, has been spectacularly good to me. I’ve met more wonderful people and experienced more incredible things than I ever knew could be possible.

Indiana is where I started my first grown-up job. I learned that I actually could make it in the real world. I’ve grown professionally in more ways than I can count and was tapped for my first real position as a writer. This company has put a lot of faith in me in the last 3.5 years–a faith they’re continuing to show as I transition to working remotely. I’m so grateful for their support and encouragement as I tried (and continue trying) to find my footing in the corporate environment I suddenly found myself in.

Indianapolis reconnected me with my passion for volleyball and showed me how much I love teaching this incredible game. The opportunities I had through Team Indiana have opened my eyes to a whole new world of volleyball. The people I met through the organization, not to mention my girls themselves, welcomed me with open arms and taught me to become both a better player and coach.

Indiana brought me Ben. It brought me our dog Sansa. It brought me memories and happiness and friends to last a lifetime. I can say with confidence that I’ve laughed a whole lot more than I’ve cried here–something that cannot be said about all the places I’ve put down roots.

That drive on Sunday brought me back to the first time I “drove home” to Indiana. I was 22 years old, scared out of my mind, and truly going out in the world for the first time. I definitely cried more than I laughed that first weekend–maybe even those first few weeks–alone in that one-bedroom apartment. Those two drives down the exact same roads could not have been more dissimilar. The first had me driving toward uncertainty. The last I drove with our dog in the backseat, on my way back to a city full of people I’ve grown to love.

And sure, we’ll be back again. Probably more times than I’d like. We’re still working our same jobs, most of our friends are here, and Ben’s video contacts here mean a lot of his production work will still be in Indiana.

It won’t be home, though. Not again. But this place, this city, these people will always hold a special place in my heart.

Tagged , , , ,

Missing You, Kerri Girl

Image

How do you say goodbye to an old dog?

How do you even put into words the feeling of having to let her go? She was the dog who made you realize what loving a dog actually means. The one you begged and pleaded and hounded your parents for years for, before they finally gave in. She was the first dog our family ever saw but she…she was the one.

Our old dog came to us when we needed her most. She wasn’t old then—then she was just a baby you could carry in your arms as she licked your cheek and nipped your nose with her too-sharp puppy teeth. Our old dog came when we ourselves were on the verge of something new and exciting.

So many things about adolescence are hard: growing up, switching schools, the transitions into life as a preteen. Somehow, at ages 8 and 10 and 12, a puppy had the ability to change our lives. Maybe now, as we led her through the neighborhood, people would notice us when they used to just walk on by.

Instead, transformations came more subtly with our old dog. She taught us empathy. Responsibility. Patience. How to respect those who couldn’t care for themselves. We grew with her in our lives, in better ways than we could have ever imagined. Having more friends paled in comparison to what we actually gained from loving an old dog.

Image

Sure, we taught her plenty—shake, speak, roll over, high-five, where Mom and Dad kept the good treats—but how do you say goodbye to an old dog who taught you everything?

Looking back, it’s obvious to see how quickly our family changed around her. We were no longer the ones who had to play with the dog next door. Instead, we raced home to be with her. To wrestle in the backyard and pat her head and love her. She was made to be ours, and we adored her more than I ever knew was possible.

An old dog grows up with you. She knows how to work her way into your heart and never let go. She draws you back, even after you’ve grown up and moved on the life you had together. You can’t talk to an old dog on the phone when you go to college—but she never lets on how much she missed you when you went away. An old dog will kiss your cheek and wag her tail and keep on loving you, one weekend visit at a time.

The only thing left to say to our old dog is thank you. For being the best first dog—the dog we wouldn’t have even thought to ask for. For drying our tears and kissing away our pain. For being over the moon excited when came home to you, even if we had only been gone 15 minutes. Thank you for loving us every single day for almost 14 years.

So how do you say goodbye to an old dog? You can’t. All you can do is tell her that you love her. It won’t feel like enough. It will seem more than inadequate. She deserves more, a thousand times over, but because she is an old dog, she will understand.

I love you, my foxy little girl. Always.

Image

Woah, a Real Writing Gig!

I’ve written once or twice here about my struggle with where I want my writing to take me in the future. Do I want to be a hard-hitting journalist? (Definitely not.) Do I want to write short stories or maybe a novel? (Ehh, maybe.) Do I even want to write publicly at all? (Yeah, I’m pretty sure.)

Secretly, I still don’t know for sure where I’m going to end up eventually. But what I do know is that, after sending a few clips and links to my stuff around the Web, someone wants me to write for them!!!

Lydia is an up-and-coming online magazine for all kinds of women. They have posts for everyone–music and TV reviews, makeup and fashion advice, and even a section of thought-provoking essays.

But my favorite part? They want me to write DIY- and food-related posts. Fall-themed ones, to be exact, at least at the moment. With pictures and everything!

My head is swimming with ideas; I cannot wait to really get going with this. I’ve even got some ideas for submissions to their essays section.

Guess what, though?

I’ve already got a post live. I made some seriously amazing pumpkin gooey butter cake, and before we scarfed the whole thing down, I took some fancy pictures and sent it off. I even had to write up a little bio about myself–promise you won’t laugh when you read it?

Go check it out, you guys!!! (Sorry about the exclamation points. I’m seriously way too excited.)

Tagged , , , , , ,

Welcome Back

I’ve written on it before (and I think about it always), but writing is always easier for me when I’m sad. Emotions that hurt seem to pour out of my fingertips while ones that elate me get a little stuck between my brain and the page.

That’s not to say that the words don’t come when I’m happy. They’re always there, forming themselves into perfect sentences as I lay in bed each morning, so eloquent and refined. They just don’t come here, because when the time comes to actually get up and write them down? I find that there are puppy cuddles to be had and the comforting arms of the man I love to keep me half asleep just long enough to remember why I’m so happy in the first place.

Happiness has a way of entrenching itself in my life in a way that sadness just can’t match. While despair may keep me at my keyboard, jubilation keeps me out, living in the world and away from writing.

So if that’s true, then I must be having the best 8 months of my life, right?

It really has been wonderful. Sure, there have been some tough times. Times so hard that I couldn’t fathom writing about them. Times that threatened to undo everything I thought I had accomplished, pushed me further than I ever wanted to go. There were times in the last 8 months that made me question every single thing about who I thought I was.

But I pushed through, and I am so much stronger for it. I know myself more deeply and can love who I am, even through my flaws. Those days felt like hell, but now, standing on the other side, I know they were worth it.

I’ve had so many incredible experiences with the wonderful people who now fill my life, and I wouldn’t trade it (or them) for the world. The realization of what (and who) is actually important could never have come without hardship and heartbreak.

So, in the past 8 months, I’ve just lived.

I played so much volleyball (and fetch!). I slept in and read fantastic books. I sat out on patios, played board games, and baked more cupcakes than I care to count. One Saturday, I came home to the most fantastic Arrested Development-themed surprise birthday party (complete with banana stand, George Senior pinata, and Final Countdown theme music). We drank Tobias-inspired cocktails–think blue man and never nude–and laughed hysterically when I set my cake on fire.

When your life is full of puppies and cupcakes and friends, why would you want to make time for much else?

And yet, here I am. The changing of the seasons is calling me back. It’s nostalgia, I’m sure. For what my life was like at this time last year. In a few short weeks, I’ll have been with an amazing, loving, perfect man for an entire year. I adore our life together, and I find myself giggling like a little girl as I remember what it was like to fall in love with him.

My posts at this time last year were sad. Filled with doubt and uncertainty. But feeling broken for a little while led me to feeling whole again.

It is beyond incredible to look back on it now and smile at how much has changed. I am forever grateful for this year. For the months upon months of radio silence that allowed me to fill my life with joy rather than fill a page on the Internet with sadness. Grateful that my life has come full circle, and I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring.

A Long Overdue Good-Bye

Sometimes growing up means saying good-bye to the ones you loved. It means walking out on them, maybe when they feel like they need you most. Sometimes it means shutting a door and trying with all your might to never look back.

It doesn’t come easy, this part of growing up. It’s a knock-down, drag-out, full-on war within yourself. Are you doing the right thing? Will it all pay off in the end, or are you just burning bridges for the hell of it? Why are you turning away from someone that you can’t stop thinking about?

When you have to let someone go, really let them out of your life, never to return, sometimes they don’t get the closure they were looking for. It may feel selfish. It may feel as though your whole world is crashing down. It probably feels exactly like that.

You’re going to feel like the worst person in the world, because you know that this is your fault. You’re the one ending it, even if your friendship has been begging to be put down for years.

Saying good-bye to someone doesn’t mean you don’t wish them well. That you don’t remember the good times, because you do. You remember them, long for them, even though sometimes you wish you didn’t.

Because if you didn’t remember the good times, then this would all be easy. If you forgot all the times they held you while you cried, laughed with you, sat in your bed at 3am after everyone else had walked out—then it wouldn’t matter that they weren’t there for you anymore. It wouldn’t matter that you had to let them go, push them away, and say good-bye when all you wanted to say was “come over.”

Because if you didn’t have those, all you would remember were the bad times. The fights. The yelling. The anger that lasted for days on end. The backstabbing and the selfishness and overwhelming desire to one-up each other. The constant need to be right, to win, to come out on top. Then you’d just remember throwing things at the wall and slamming doors in your last ditch attempt to make some kind of radical point.

If that was all you had, then none of this would really matter. But you do. You know how good things can be, but you realize, finally, that the bad outweighs the good.

Letting them go is the kindest way to let them have the last word. A final way to say “Alright, you win. You’re the better person, and your prize? Not having to deal with me in your life anymore.”

They’ll deny it. Say that you’re actually wrong, just to say it one more time. They’ll fight you on it, begging without actually begging to let things go back to how they were. They’ll push you, but all they’re doing is successfully proving your point. That your lives are better off spent apart. That future you’d planned together, the places you were going to go—it’s really just full of empty promises and late-night shouting matches.

Friendships aren’t meant to be that hard. They aren’t supposed to tire you out and leave you weary. The hardest part is admitting to yourself that it isn’t all their fault. Every little thing they’ve done to you, you’ve paid back tenfold. You’re more to blame here than they are, but sometimes people aren’t meant to stay in your life, no matter how hard that reality is to accept.

Instead, you just have to let go.

Maybe you’d kill to make sure they were happy. To know that things are going to be ok for them, because you still want what’s best for them. After all, that’s all you’ve ever really wanted. Maybe you want to call. Check in. Send a quick text message just to see how life’s been lately. Make sure they know that you’re thinking about them, always. Tell them you should catch up, how you have so many things you’ve needed to say to them. Ask if you can have one more chance to lay it all out before you go your separate ways.

But you know you can’t do that. It would never work. Someone would roll their eyes, get annoyed, talk over the other with points about how wrong they actually were. It would end with someone storming out, even more hurt than they were before. Deep down, you know—how things are now? That’s really what’s best.

So maybe you just write about it. Publish it somewhere on the internet that you’re not even sure they remember exists. Maybe then they’ll see it and know how you feel—that you’re sorry, but you aren’t ever coming back.

Tagged , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 39 other followers