Taking Chances on Missing People

I’ve had a lot of time to myself lately. Which means, a lot of time to think and feel. Dangerous, right? Right. It’s also meant a lot of time to write, albeit it very intermittent due to pain (I haven’t been able to peck out more than about 150 words in one sitting – torture for a writer). I have six posts sitting in my drafts folder in various stages of appropriateness for public consumption.

A little over two weeks ago, I wrote a post about missing people – three specific individuals in my life. It was a thinly veiled way of passive aggressively attempting to get their attention without actually putting myself out there and being vulnerable. If any of them read it, they would know without a doubt I was talking about them. I let it sit in my drafts rather than hit the “Publish” button.

And then I thought and felt, as I’ve been known to do. Which is when I realized that if I really missed these people as much as I had written that I did – if I truly craved them back in my life – then publishing a melodramatic blog post wasn’t the solution. If I missed them, I had to let them know directly. No more fear of whether they actually missed me too or had instead forgotten I ever existed in their lives. No more excuses of “Well, if they wanted to talk to me, they’d call.” After all, couldn’t they be thinking the same about me? Didn’t that make me a hypocrite?

When enough time passes, that initial contact can be awkward. Whether it’s been three weeks, nine months or more than a year. Maybe you’ve spent all your time thinking about them; or maybe for the most part, you forgot them too. But then something pops up in your mind or in your day-to-day activities that reminds you of them – a song, a scent, an inside joke that no one else will ever understand – and you physically ache because of the hole in your life that they used to fill.

Since that revelation, I took the chance on two of those three people. I rehearsed what I would say (because of all the thinking and the feeling) and then before I could turn back and put it off another day, I let my thumb hit that contact in my iPhone and held my breath and felt sick to my stomach waiting for the voice on the other end.

Obviously, what I rehearsed in my head (or, um, out loud alone in my house – shut up…) never made it out of my mouth. Because as soon as I heard their voices, I couldn’t stop smiling, much less get out a proper sentence. After the slightly awkward beginnings, the rest of the conversation flowed like we’d spent no time out of each others’ lives.

I took a chance on missing people. I took a blind leap that if they meant so much to me that I was aching to have them back, there had to be a pretty decent chance I meant that much to them too.

And I’m so glad I took those two jumps. It was terrifying to think of; I could have had my heart (not to mention ego) splattered on the jagged rocks of being ignored, of being forgotten. But instead, I was caught in the comforting arms of “I’ve missed you too,” and “I’ve been thinking about you, but wasn’t sure if it had been too long. Thank you for taking the initiative to call.”

Nothing good ever came out of everyone being afraid, of everyone hiding from possible rejection. Someone has to take the chance, to make the move. Why not let it be you? If it means enough to keep you up at night, it means enough to make the call. Worst case scenario: you don’t hear back or get the response you wanted. But maybe you’ll get some closure, or at least a good night’s sleep knowing you didn’t just let it slip by.

As for me and that third person… I still haven’t taken the chance on calling them. Maybe soon.

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Giving TOTALLY beats receiving

Remember when I talked about those awesome Christmas gifts I was making for my friends and how I couldn’t wait to give them to the girls?! Well, now that everyone has them, I can finally post them!

I found this gift idea on Etsy, which is one of the most dangerous and wonderful sites on the internet if you ask me. But when I found them, they were $60. So I got to thinking…why can’t I just make it for myself?! These gifts would be meaningful, heart-felt, relatively cheap to make, and totally unique.

So I went out, bought the supplies, and slaved away before Thanksgiving even came. And I couldn’t have been more thrilled with the results.

For my Mary, a Texas girl through and through.

The first recipient was my beloved Mary. She just moved into a house, and it seemed like the perfect gift to give her – something from my heart that displays her roots. With the heart over Dallas, where she grew up and lives currently, in the closest orange I could find to show her Longhorn pride. I was able to give this to her the weekend of Thanksgiving while she was in town to visit family, and she loved it. 🙂

Then I had to wait forever before giving the other three to their recipients! And they kind of got down to the wire, because I was unsure of the location to choose for Lauren. But I finished them all just in the nick of time and was able to give them to my ladies last weekend.

The place that brought me some of my best friends

Kirsten and Audrey received this one – North Carolina with the heart over our beloved Elon, of course, with maroon and gold as the color scheme. I would not have these ladies in my life if it weren’t for Elon, and we all have a special place in our hearts for our alma mater, so it was only natural.

Lauren’s was trickier. Did I do the Maryland, where we met and live? Australia, where she visited me when I studied abroad? Jamaica, where we’re going this year? And then it dawned on me. There was one more place that connects us inextricably. VEGAS, BABY. She is my wolfpack most days, and we will probably always talk about that trip, so it seemed perfect. She got a bit of an adaption on the design, with a bold color (like Vegas and her personality) and a Nevada quarter over Vegas instead of the heart.

The girls with their gifts!

The girls all loved their presents, each adorned with a special message written on the back. And if Christmas ended with that, I would have been completely happy with it. Their genuine appreciation of those gifts was all I needed.

What’s the best Christmas present you ever received… or gave someone?!

#Winning: The Christmas Edition

While Christmas isn’t until this coming Sunday, the celebrations have, of course, already begun.

The first big celebration was my friends Liana & Steve’s 4th Annual Hideous Holiday Outfit Party. I was not present for the inaugural party, as I had not had the immense pleasure of meeting them yet. Now, I can’t imagine my life without them, and this party is always one of the highlights of my year. The first year I attended was fairly tame, but everyone stepped up their game last year, and I came in second place, and was bitter about it the the majority of 2011.

With one of my rivals, Sara, at the 2010 party.

I mean, I had a legitimate ugly sweater, complete with shoulder pads, from my grandmother. Furry red plaid pants. Santa socks. Gold heels. And a snowman hat. HOW DID I LOSE?! Because our friend Matt whipped out a surprise pair of pink crushed velvet Winnie the Pooh pants under his slacks.

But this year, I was determined to win the coveted “Most Hideous 2011” trophy. However, I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. Before Halloween, I found my first element of my outfit, and I was psyched. But then time got away from me. Before I knew it, it was the week of the party and I had nothing else for my outfit, and a 50-hour workweek wasn’t allowing me much time after work to get to Goodwill. After taking a half day on Friday, I headed to The Will hoping it hadn’t been completely picked through. I needn’t have been concerned because as soon as I walked in, there it was. Suddenly, my vision was complete.

It was just a matter of the execution at this point. And execute I did.

It’s a redneck Christmas, y’all. The shirt I had found before Halloween was plaid with Christmas trees and gold glittery thread. Little did I know that when I walked into Goodwill the day before the party, I would run into pure gold.

One of my rivals this year, Laur.

Christmas overalls. Snowmen on the front. A Christmas tree on the back. Snowflakes on the pockets. Gold, I tell you. So what did I do? I embellished. I took my trusty cowboy hat that I bought at senior week in 2005 (and never wore) and made it as redneck as I could. A plush snowman head attached to the top with duct tape. Some ribbons tied to the brim. A few gift bows stuck on. A glittery ribbon to cover up the leather band. We fashioned a ribbon scarf and some bows to help keep the slightly-too-small overalls from cutting off my circulation. I whipped out the Santa socks for another year. And we adorned my Sperrys with some red bows too.

It was extreme. But you know what? It was worth it in the end when I was crowned Most Hideous 2011 and got my picture taken for the Wall of Shame.

After a victory lap, my version of a Tebow happened. (This was actually the reenactment, the in-the-moment reaction was better.)

*There are better, up-close pictures of the outfit to show the truly hideous nature of it, I just have not downloaded them yet. These are courtesy of others 🙂

What is your favorite wacky holiday celebration?!

The Single Girl’s Checklist #37: Girls’ Night

*Although it is after midnight and technically Sunday, Nov. 20 as I write this, I am backdating this to the 19th because that’s when it occurred! And I haven’t gone to bed yet…it counts. 😛

I slightly altered the 37th item on my Single Girl’s Checklist. Originally, it said “host,” but I have changed it to:

#37 – Have a girls only night. Some coupled-up women forget how much we need each other.

I did not host this event, but my friend Sara graciously offered her DC apartment to the other four of us for what we called a Fall Harvest Pot Luck dinner. And it was absolutely lovely.

Now, this group of friends has always been really good about having girls’ only nights, despite the individuals’ relationship statuses, and they are always an absolute joy. Our married ladies forget their hubbies for a night (or kick them out of the house) and we have lots of delicious food, good wine, time to catch up and more laughter than I could ever accurately describe.

Tonight was no exception. Except that we classed it up a little bit by having a five-course meal. (And then un-classed it with boxed wine.)

The Food.

Course #1: Brie with a walnut compote, served with bread and apples, courtesy of Kristin (and her grandmother’s recipe).

Course #2: Pureed potato and broccoli soup with garlic-parmesan croutons, courtesy of Alicia (and possibly Pinterest?).

Course #3: A lovely spinach, walnut, gorgonzola, pear salad with cranberry walnut gorgonzola dressing, courtesy of Liana (and Trader Joe’s).

Course #4: Butternut squash and hazelnut lasagna with a side of brussels sprouts AND BACON, courtesy of our lovely hostess Sara.

Course #5: An apple walnut ginger galette, aka healthier apple pie, courtesy of me (and Self magazine).

Bittersweet conversation topics.

There were a couple of times tonight where I just sat back and observed. We always make sure we catch up on what’s going on in each other’s lives, amidst the discussion of latest television show obsessions and other pop culture references. Tonight, there was a lot of talk of change.

An offer put in on a house. Three potential out-of-state moves. Relationships and marriages and babies.

There were arguments and tears and looks of fear at these thoughts of change. But while we may get upset thinking about one or more of us moving away, we all know that deep down, we support each other. We care about the happiness of the others, and even if that means we have to say goodbye or get together less frequently, we’ll still be there when the time comes.

This group of women has come to mean far more to me than I ever could have imagined. We’re at different stages in our lives. Liana likes to remind me and Kristin that we are “babies” at 23 and 24 years old, but none of that matters when we get together. We help each other through things, we provide different perspectives, and we have a great time.

It’s the friends like that in your life that you need. No matter where everyone ends up, you’ll make the efforts to keep in touch. And when you all reunite at the next wedding in the group, or when the first baby comes around, or for another epic group trip…all at different stages in your lives than you were the last time…it’ll feel a little bit different, but always familiar.

That’s the kind of perspective a girls’ night can give you. And that’s why they need to keep happening.

Laughter is the best medicine

I don’t have a clever or witty or eloquent way to write this post.

All I know is that tonight, I am going to bed with a smile on my face and love in my heart. After a weekend that definitely could’ve gone better, and a Monday morning that was less than stellar, I found my cure. Laughter.

Laughter on gchat with my dear friend Mary, all day long like we used to, making up new phrases and discussing badgers and drawing stares and questions from coworkers.

Laughter when the radio station played TLC’s “No Scrubs” and I was blaring it and singing along, windows rolled down, with no shame toward the end of my commute home.

Laughter at my best friend unexpectedly being at the gym at the same time as me.

Laughter at How I Met Your Mother (we’ll forget about the tears at the end for now).

Laughter on the phone with my college roomie/bff/bride-to-be (we’ll forget the almost-tears at the thought that she’s going to be married in less than seven months).

Laughter melts the stress away. It brings me back to earth. It makes me feel physically lighter.

To those who make me laugh on a regular basis, I thank you. Sometimes you don’t know it, but I need it more than you could ever imagine. 🙂

And as Mary’s inquisitive coworker so sagely (or oreganoly?) said today, “Funny friends are good.”

Bald point, Rondo. Bald point.*

*No, you aren’t going to understand that, unless you are Mary. Forget it ever happened. 🙂

The Single Girl’s Checklist #36: Picking up the pieces

If there is one items on my Single Girl’s Checklist that has kind of been the story of my 2011, I would have to say it is number 36.

#36: Help a friend through a bad divorce or breakup.

This is kind of ironic that this has been such a huge part of my life this year, considering my complete lack of experience with breakups and, well, with relationships. But I guess my friends trust me and know they can count on me, because they always come to me for comfort and advice.

I’m not going to go into the specifics of the breakups out of respect for those involved, but I will talk about how I (and others) have helped them get through the breakups.

Varying degrees of breakups

All three breakup situations were very different. Very different stages in the relationships, very different amounts of time they had been involved; ranging from an undefined relationship status to an engagement, from four months to five years. Regardless of the “statuses,” the length of time these couples had been together, or which party had pulled the plug, all three of my girls went through some really rough patches.

Blind leading the blind

As someone whose longest “relationship” was two weeks and one “date” in eighth grade, I am often at a loss for what to say in these situations. But I think that I’m a good listener, and as someone who is a bit of a romantic at heart and who takes the concept of relationships very seriously, I am often a decent sounding board for these issues.

Just do whatever you can

In these situations, I’ve learned that you can’t fix it. Whatever has happened, happened. You can say the same things over and over and over, but it’s not going to change how they feel. They’re going to need to cry and feel like crap and be angry. But if nothing else, I can help them forget about the issues altogether by any number of means, including but not limited to:

  • Having days dedicating to vision boarding and plotting new life goals
  • Helping them move out of the home they shared with their significant other into a new place
  • Spending hours at Ikea with them for “the making of a life”
  • Buying six different varieties of ice cream to stock the freezer
  • Going speed dating
  • Having giant margaritas and sangrias
  • Dreaming about marrying various sing-songwriters and their band members
  • Commiserating about the perils of online dating
  • Taking a day trip to the beach and playing skeeball
  • Plotting and scheming with friends to plan a secret getaway weekend to an undisclosed destination
  • Renting a BALLER cabin in the woods, having rave-like dance parties and eating amazing meals all weekend, surviving a hurricane in the process
  • Planning out every moment of a day or weekend that should have had some meaning to the relationship to keep her mind off of it.
  • Making a giant chocolate chip cookie in a cast-iron skillet and eating it piping hot out of the oven with ice cream on top at 3 o’clock in the afternoon on a Saturday. Just because you can.
  • Getting dressed up and going to eat dinner at Ben’s Chili Bowl.
  • Bopping and dancing and talking about snoodle-doodling at an amazing concert.
  • Going out to a gay bar to dance to your heart’s content without worrying about men hitting on her.

But when it comes down to it, there’s just one thing you need to do.

Love her

Hold her when she spontaneously bursts into tears. Give her a place to go when she can’t escape. Support her decisions. Help her in her mission to start a new life. Make her laugh. Let her know she can call you, day or night, if she needs to talk. Hold her hand as you both cry. Be honest with her. Tell her that yes, he was a great guy, and yes, they were great together, but that this is for the best. Tell her you know it sucks and you’re sorry. Tell her you love her and she will get through this.

Because you do love her. And you know that if or when you are in her position, she will do the same exact things for you.

In Celebration of 95%

Today is a very important, very special day, a day I will be eternally grateful for. It is the day that one of my dearest friends in the world was born.

Happy 24th birthday, Kirsten!

When I met Kirsten in August of 2006, I don’t think I ever could have imagined the influence she would have on my life. She was just supposed to be a suitemate, maybe an acquaintance. In the five years since then, she has become someone I absolutely cannot imagine my life without. She’s been my suitemate, my friend, my roommate, my therapist, my shoulder to cry on, my regular phone date, my comic relief, my movie date, my soulmate, my sister and my best friend.

After she convinced me to sign up on OKCupid to try online dating, we compared our match percentage. We were only matched at like 72% or something, but our friendship percentage was at 92%.

We were kind of upset that our friendship match wasn’t a little bit higher, and we’ve been trying to figure out where the discrepancies lie. We have some ideas. Such as her love of and my disinterest in Harry Potter, and my love and her absolute hatred of country music.

But we are also now trying to get ourselves up to about 95% friendship level.

We have assessed ourselves at 95% when:

  • we snort from laughter in sync
  • we say the same thing at the same time, via text, gchat, Twitter, fb, in person, on the phone…
  • we use all of the above modes of communication in a single day (or sometimes a single hour)
  • we spend three weekends in a row together doing awesome things like speed dating and celebrating her birthday and proposing to singer-songwriters
  • we whine together
  • we wine together (YES.)

The bottom line is, when I think about the most important moments in my life in the past five years, Kirsten was there for them all. When I think about the most important moments that are coming up in my life, I know she will be there for them all once again. OKCupid may say we’re only a 92% friendship match, but I know better.

So today, I am spending the day with Kirsten in celebration of her birthday and of our friendship.

I’m celebrating the 95% and thanking her for being there for me through the good and the bad.

And I’m probably laughing a heck of a lot too.

Me and Kirsten in November 2005 - the beginnings of our friendship.

In the same spot five years later!

Happy Birthday, KJ! May all your dreams come true this year, and may you still be questioned about being old enough to drink for at least another three years!

(And I’m sorry for posting a pic of you with that hat, but at least your eyebrows were showing in this one! But, holy crap, we look like BABIES!!)