Perfect, then…

Last week on Thursday, I kept smiling. Despite having worked a full twelve hours, I’d texted my lovely friend M on the way out of the office to complain a little, and it turned out she was around the corner, so we met for some much-needed margaritas and maybe a tequila shot (or three) as well. The weekend ahead promised so many wonderful things: a yoga workshop in Central Park with M and my cousin, who I’d convinced to come in from Connecticut for the afternoon, followed by dinner at a different cousin’s restaurant in Nyack, and ending with a pit stop in FiDi to say hi to the rest of the group, as my partner-in-crime R, her Scot H, my fashionista C and N planned to spend the afternoon and evening on rooftops, drinking in summertime alongside Oyster Bay. I’d also promised D&D that I’d watch their dogs this weekend, so in between all of those wonderful things, I’d get to come home and snuggle with my favorite pug and pitbull, So as I took the last tequila shot on Thursday night and started the long trek back to Washington Heights much later than usual, I had this overwhelming feeling that life couldn’t get any better.

Last week on Friday, as I prepared to leave the office on the earlier side, I kept smiling. It had been a productive but simple day at the office, and I was just on my way out to meet my sorority big for a short walk along the High Line and then a long and leisurely dinner/happy hour at Montmartre, a cozy French bistro in Chelsea. The Supreme Court announcement led to a giddy elation that permeated the neighborhood streets, rainbow flags and songs about love every which way you looked, people gearing up for a pride weekend that celebrated so much more than they’d originally planned. As my big and I moved into our third hour of sitting in the backyard patio, munching on pickled vegetables and sharing a cool bottle of rosé, I had this overwhelming feeling that life couldn’t get any better.

On Saturday, I woke up early and met up with M to head to the Upper East Side, her to babysit for a few hours before our yoga class, and me to drop my things off at D&D’s and hang out with the pups for a few hours before it was yoga time. We rode the bus and chatted excitedly about dinner later that night in Nyack, and bounced in our seats at the chance to train with Superhuman Yogi. I felt my phone buzz twice, the rapid cadence of an incoming text, and checked my phone, assuming it was my cousin with travel plans or brother reminding me to take home the toy he and D had picked up for little miss a few weeks back.  Instead I saw a number that I didn’t recognize but I immediately knew who it was. Before I’d looked at the text, before I looked up the area code to confirm, I knew in the bottom of my heart that The Child had just sent me a text. After thinking all weekend that life couldn’t get any better, he had some fucking nerve sending me anything, especially seeing as today is exactly a year since he told me “I can’t.”

You can see why we call him "The Child" after that final response.

You can see why we call him “The Child” after that final response.

That’s our conversation. M and I debated hotly about what to say in response – should I take the opportunity to be a bitch and tell him to fuck off? Ignore it completely? Play dumb and just say “who is this?” In the end, I realized I just don’t care anymore. Maybe he thought about me for a split second this past weekend but I take that train every day, and I stopped thinking about him months ago. And as I crafted the perfect response to acknowledge I read the text, know who sent it and now want nothing to do with it ever again, I felt an eerie sense of calm. This text three months ago, six months ago, would have put me in an emotional tailspin. And all it did this weekend was make me angry for six minutes and then I didn’t think about it again until the next day, when I was scrolling through texts and noticed I’d forgotten to delete it. What a different place to be in from this time last year; what a different way to approach hearing from someone who used to hold a piece of my heart. What a great way to start a new week, a new month and a new season: surrounded by so much happiness and people I love, no longer preoccupied with the things that caused me so much pain in the past.

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Cycling

There’s nothing worse than being unhappy: it drains your energy, makes you moody, and generally affects your home life. To avoid this situation, learn to be grateful for, and enjoy the things that surround you every day. Doing so will ensure that your life will be a happy one.

The above sentiment is beautiful, isn’t it. There is nothing worse than being unhappy, nothing worse than feeling like you hate everything and everyone and you can’t even define why sometimes; there is no feeling quite like stewing in anger and negativity, desperate to lift yourself out of it but staying firmly rooted in anger or anything else. When I read that for the first time, it really struck me, and I read it over and over until finally pasting it into a draft blog post, both because I wanted to remember those words on the days where they would come in handy, and because I could feel the slow bubble of inspiration forming, not because I knew what I was going to write about them quite yet, but because I knew someday that slow percolation of inspiration would eventually boil over into words I couldn’t wait to share.

So it will probably surprise you to know that the above sentiment is actually just my horoscope from a few weeks ago.

I read my horoscope every day. I don’t live and die by the words, and I don’t take them as fact, but I think they’re silly, and fun, and every once in a while mine will be scarily accurate. I think a common misconception about horoscopes is that they’re supposed to tell your future, like a daily fortune cookie, feeding into our constant desire to have someone else make the decisions, a disillusion with the random nature of reality. Things like horoscopes are meant to inspire your day, provide that little bit of motivation, yes I actually was feeling a little unhappy today and you know what, it is really taxing to feel that way. I’ve always been interested in astrology on a fun yet serious level, because shit really does get screwy when Mercury is in retrograde and I have found a sense of calm on the eve of a new moon, the signal that a new cycle in the random acts of life is about to begin. And for reasons that will become clear in November, I’ve been tracking the lunar phases lately to try and understand how the different phases play into the moving pieces of our lives.

This is the part where you tell me that astrology is bullshit and made-up, like a psychic hotline that promises to tell you when you’ll fine twue wuv for the simple price of $14.99 a minute. And I’d agree that anyone professing to see and know the future is probably out for quick cash. But step away from the hooey for a minute and there’s actually some logic to the argument that these planetary movements affect our lives. The moon controls the rise and fall of the tides; these timings can change when the sun rises and sets and in that, when we feel it’s time for bed. It pulls the earth along an axis that spins around in the same pattern, random and beautiful, just like the moving pieces of our lives. There’s a chaos in the order of the calm, steady nature of a cyclical change.

There’s not much to this post, no lesson learned, no life experience to compare to reading horoscopes and waiting for the next new moon, which conveniently happens right around the time that everything in my life might change completely or stay exactly the same. I suppose I could watch my horoscope to determine which way those winds may blow, live and die by the words by a skeptical psychic making money peddling moon signs to strangers. But no – instead I’ll keep watching for words like the ones above and save them for when I need a little burst of inspiration, keeping in mind that no matter what happens at the crux of the next full moon, to stay unhappy and to put your future in someone, or something, else’s hands, is the surest way to drive back to the unhappiness that started this whole stream of thought.

Update: I have no idea what’s going on with the font here……… 

Treat Yo’ Self

The other day I was bouncing around funny articles on Buzzfeed, when I saw one titled, “If Donna Meagle Quotes were Motivational Posters.” As a massive Parks and Recreation fan, I scrolled through and laughed at some of my favorite lines repeated over an inspirational sunset background. Most were quotes you’d only know if you watched the show (and if you haven’t, please stop reading this blog and come back when you have), but the one that made me laugh the hardest was the one everyone’s heard: Treat Yo’ Self. The premise of that episode is basically that two characters celebrate Treat Yo’ Self Day every year, and it’s literally a day to spend exorbitant amounts of money on whatever makes you happy: clothes (treat yo’self), jewelry (treat yo’self), massages (treat… you get the idea). I debated hanging that poster on my desk at work, but instead took a screenshot and set it as the background of my phone. The photo doesn’t fit quite right, and it’s admittedly very silly, but every time I go to unlock my phone, that little Treat Yo’ Self makes me smile.

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My actual phone background.

Treating ourselves. What a foreign concept for so many of us! From the little things, like a stopping at Starbucks for a coffee in the mornings, to the big things, like manicure on a Monday, buying a mid-afternoon smoothie for fun, or a cab home after a particularly long day at the office, it feels really good to do something nice for yourself every once in a while. Sometimes for me it’s not stressing about getting another blog post up, and taking some time off writing to fix the other parts of my life; sometimes it’s saying it “screw it” to budgeting responsibly and spending money on something for yoga or for life that makes me happy. It’s really easy to get sucked into the same routine over and over, fixing things for other people, pushing through another day at the office, that we can forget to take a minute to feel good about ourselves and enjoy the life we work so hard to maintain.

It goes so far beyond monetary or tangible things too. Yesterday morning when I woke up, I was so tired. My head was pounding, my muscles ached from moving and assembling furniture with my parents all day on Sunday, and I did a full hour of yoga after they left as well, slower movements, working on backbends and splits instead of inversions, but still strenuous work. I tried to drag myself to the mat to do the core strength workout I’ve been “enjoying” for the past month, but as I went to roll out of bed, I was overwhelmed with the need to continue resting, resting an old injury in my sciatic nerve that was protesting all the work from the day before, and resting the muscles that have been worked really hard lately. I took a look at the time and had a choice: stay in bed for another 20 minutes and listen to my body, or push myself to the mat. There’s always an argument to push your body, especially when it comes to exercise, but I took a look at the phone background, smiled, told myself “TREAT YO’SELF” and promptly fell asleep for a brief, yet blissful and much-needed snooze.

The rest of my 2015 literally revolves around other people’s weddings, and while I’m elated that I get the chance to be so involved in these important days for the most important women in my life, it’s really fucking stressful on a number of levels. There are dates to remember and so many parties to plan, buying dresses and presents and hotels, spending, spending, stressing; and in between all of that there is apparently some kind of law that requires everyone saying things like “My friend Katie’s friend Mark met his wife at a wedding!” and “Don’t worry, this will be you someday!”  Reminding myself on occasion to take a minute for me, turn off my phone for a little while, take a deep breath before once again reminding people that IDGAF if I ever get married because my life rocks, maybe even sit and sulk for five minutes that I’m not going to have a non-wedding related conversation with some of my friends till 2016, has been transformative.

As is the case with many things in my life, now that I’ve had “Treat Yo’self” on the brain, courtesy of the phone background, I’m seeing it everywhere: in a wonderfully generous gift certificate as a thank-you from my partner-in-crime for watching her dog, overheard in conversations on the subway, on t-shirts and on random social media posts. Maybe I’m the only one with the revelation recently that to treat yourself does wonders for body and soul; or maybe now that I’ve mentioned it to you all you’re going to start seeing it everywhere too. If you take nothing else from casual reading of this ridiculous blog, always remember to treat yo’self.

PLD Montage Vol. 2.3: Surprise Edition

I love surprises. There’s something so fun about planning a surprise for a friend or family member, surprise visit, surprise party, surprise gift. I’m not great at secret-keeping necessarily, given my tendency to talk too much and too often, especially to fill an awkward silence, but when it comes to important things like first dates and surprise parties, I work really hard to keep details on the DL until it’s finally time to share. After the fantastic surprise party to celebrate the engagement of my lovely friend M and her N last month, most people would have toned down party-planning mode, but in fact, my fashionista C and I had another party in the works at the same time, which came to fruition this weekend, when we surprised our partner-in-crime R with a bachelorette drag brunch and a bridal shower on C’s roof. There were so many wonderful moments this past Sunday that I’ve been trying to chronicle in a succinct story, but the more I wrote, the more I realized there was only one way to memorialize the day.

So without further ado: PLD Montage, Vol 2.3: Surprise Edition

  • As mentioned above, C and I were planning the parties for R at the same time we were planning the party for M. We had group texts going with both of the girls talking about two different parties which were the primary forms of communicating details among ourselves.
    Lesson learned: ALWAYS, always, ALWAYS confirm you’re sending the correct group text when simultaneously planning surprise parties. Literally, always.
  • We’d decided that C would handle most of the decorations etc. for the bridal shower, while I’d handle plans/decorations for the bachelorette brunch. Losing my wallet on Memorial Day continued to enhance my life by completely screwing my budget, which meant I couldn’t actually order anything for brunch until five days before the big event. Not wanting to deal with the inevitable screw-up of the Washington Heights post office, I decided to have the decorations shipped to my office, where they thankfully arrived just in time on Friday for me to spill the beans to my coworkers about the plans for the weekend, and have them insist to see the decorations that I’d ordered.
    Lesson learned: Maybe don’t take out penis-shaped memorabilia during office hours.
  • The day before the party, C, M and I met at C’s place to bake the treats for the bridal shower, including R’s favorite banana pudding and a paleo cupcake recipe because we’re all a little crazy. M and I had a *few* drinks at happy hour the night before and had spent the morning eating and relaxing at her apartment, trying to balance our blood sugar after too much wine. Though we spent literally the whole morning eating, upon arriving to the Financial District to bake, we decided we needed a smoothie to chase all of the hangover food just before getting to C’s place. Oh, and then we brought chips and salsa to C’s place as an accompanying baking snack. And also ate some of the Nilla wafers while making the pudding. Also sampled a cupcake. Oh, and some of the frosting.
    Lesson learned: Eating everything in sight does not make your hangover feel better and actually might leave you on the couch at home on a Saturday night with stomach cramps that make it impossible to move.
  • The plan for the day was simple: M, C, R and I would meet for drag brunch at noon, which was actually R’s surprise bachelorette party, and then head to C’s rooftop where more friends would be waiting for a surprise bridal shower. When party day finally arrived, M and I went down to the restaurant early so we could decorate the table with the aforementioned silly bachelorette decorations, like a chair ribbon and uber-classy penis centerpiece. After setting everything up, we went to the bar to wait for R and C to arrive, bouncing with a nervous excitement. And then another bachelorette party came in and the poor girl got really excited when she saw a decorated table.
    Lesson learned: There’s no better way to put a damper on someone else’s bachelorette party than running to the table where she’s trying to sit down screaming “THAT IS NOT FOR YOU.”
  • Brunch was wonderful and just as drunk as brunch should be, and there is even a video of R lip-syncing on “stage” to a song that she hates (which I am not allowed to share but FYI it’s amazing). We got in a cab on the way home and took awkward photos together, trying to distract R from the slowly-rebuilding nervous energy, as the rest of us knew that the surprises for the day weren’t over yet. We confirmed everyone had finally arrived to the surprise party and I distracted R in her apartment for a few minutes before we walked to C’s rooftop; I tried to keep it cool but I was a little too tipsy and kept bouncing around while we walked to the roof. We made it to the roof and I let R lead the way, looking for M and C, until she stopped and said “Are. You. Serious.” while smiling, as she saw the pink tablecloth and a big group waiting with surprise smiles. The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying perfect weather on the rooftop, drinking champagne and eating treats, watching R open presents and ending with big hugs all around, since the next time we’ll all be together in the not-so-distant future is at the wedding.
    Lesson learned: Maybe it’s difficult and stressful to plan two surprises on one day for your best friend, but watching R surrounded by love and friends (and presents, of course) was worth every freaking second of it.

It’s bittersweet sometimes, looking towards the end of the summer when my one-time single partner-in-crime will become someone else’s other half. I don’t think I could have survived the first few months as Single LB in the city if it weren’t for her pushing me out of my comfort zone and into a lot of vodka. And yet I’m looking forward to that wedding, probably not quite as much as she is but definitely a lot. She brought H the Scot into my life, our lives, and in his crazy, Scottish way, he makes the group feel complete. It’s definitely been a wild year of surprises as they’ve fallen in love and planned a wedding, and I have memories (and sort-of memories) that will last me (mostly) forever. Throwing her a day of surprises leading into the next few months was the least I could do to pay her back for all of the memories, lessons and love she’s brought into my life in the past year.

So here’s to the next chapter for my partner-in-crime and her Scot! I foresee a follow-up to this post after their wedding, where I’ve already had to swear “no vodka” and am only mostly positive my bridesmaid’s dress won’t lead to everyone’s favorite game of “If you see something, say something” with my boobs. But until then, the above lessons in love, surprises and PLDs should keep us grounded for the busy summer ahead.

She Cray.

Yesterday one of my coworkers came into the office a few minutes late looking miserable. She has a pretty intense commute in every morning from New Jersey, so I assumed it was one of those mornings where traffic was crazy through the Lincoln Tunnel, or a stranger was rude to her on the subway on the way in. She sat at her desk across from me, and within a few minutes I heard a ping as she sent me a chat through our in-office AIM of sorts. “I’m dying,” it said. “Do you have any oils for nausea?”

My coworkers think I’m crazy. That’s neither a bad thing on either their part or mine, nor is it an exaggeration – but in the four months that I’ve been working here, they’ve come to know me as a yoga fanatic who does things like Whole30 and carries around a bag of essential oils that I claim can help with just about anything. At my last job, the dynamic between myself and my team members didn’t lend well to this part of my personality, and in an effort to fit in during my short stint there, I tried to hide the things that I was most proud of, like the yoga Instagram account and even the blog, and downplayed how I feel about healthy eating and natural living. It feels really raw sometimes, sharing those pieces of me with the people I work with, like it could be too personal or too much. I mean, the blog is frequently filled with mishaps related to excessive drinking. The Instagram account mostly features me in sports bras and healthy eating is important to me because I eat more food when I’m eating healthy, which is always something on my mind. I hesitated for a few days in adjusting to this job before slowly starting to tell more people about these pieces of me.

My life has undergone a radical shift in the past 18 months. The way I dress, the way I speak and act, the way I think and the way I treat myself and my body are so completely different now from who I was before 2014, and though there have been some major learning experiences and growing pains along the way, I can absolutely say with confidence I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Part of me wants to attribute this happiness to yoga-brain, to the foods I eat/don’t eat, maybe to the new job or to any other lifestyle changes I’ve made; but the more I think about it, I think it’s because I’m not trying so hard to hide the things in my life that make me happy. I spent a lot of my early 20s trying to make other people happy, between my job, my friends, my relationship at the time, but I never really had something for myself that made me happy. I didn’t really work out, I didn’t have any specific hobbies or ways to occupy my time. I was learning to navigate New York, and learning to navigate real life and relationships and money and oh god my head is spinning just remembering how hard it was to adjust to everything. I didn’t have time for a hobby or a passion until my entire life blew up in November 2013 and I was forced to focus on myself for the first time, maybe ever.

Having a passion in life is a scary and wonderful thing. I don’t mean having passion for things in life, like how I feel about Taylor Swift (QUEEN) or the serious importance of red wine after a long week at work. I mean A Passion, something that pushes you and makes you work harder, constantly working to excel, always understanding there is room for growth. It’s the thing that hones your ability to focus, that fuels your drive in all areas of life to do more and to do better; it doesn’t matter if it’s fashion or volunteer work or running or food, it could be all of those or none of those, but it’s just something that gives you that push. Yoga and healthy living has been that for me. Yoga gave my life a new direction and made it easy to set a plan for my life for the next few years; healthy living has given me focus and an appreciation for a body that I abused for too long. For a while I thought I had to hide these parts of me, keeping them sacred and close to home. Getting messages like the one above from my nauseated coworker reinforce just how much happier I’ve been since removing the wall around those parts of me so everyone around me can enjoy the new me too.

I gave my coworker some peppermint to dab behind her ears and ginger to rub on her stomach; she laughed and said she felt weird rubbing oils all over herself. I laughed with her and went back to my desk, and within a few minutes she sent me another chat that just said “holy shit that stuff works.” Another coworker has been one of the most supportive and wonderful followers on my Instagram page, asking me constantly to do some yoga with her in the office when we’re stressed, and wanting to take classes with me so she can grow her practice as well. I know they all think I’m this crazy, curly-haired hippie chick stereotype with her natural remedies and yoga exercises for stress, and frankly I think I’m pretty crazy as well. But I’m also crazy happy on a deeper level than I’ve ever been in my entire life. Turns out in the end, embracing the crazy Passionate side of me that I suppressed for years is the sanest thing I’ve ever done.

Slide forward, jump back

I’ve come to learn I shouldn’t be left to my own devices in other people’s apartments. I don’t mean that I steal things, or that I look for embarrassing things under the beds and in the medicine cabinets. Those things don’t really interest me (though a certain Chanel purse had me rethinking the “don’t steal” thing), and between the Nickname Posse I would be SHOCKED if we had any secrets that would lurk under the bed or in the medicine cabinet; or at least any secrets that we don’t all already know/text/talk about in detail. But when left alone this weekend in my partner-in-crime R and her Scot H’s apartment to watch their pup while they went off somewhere beautiful and relaxing, I did *perhaps* go a little wild… on the wealth of non-Whole30 approved food in their cabinets and fridge.

Actually, even before arriving to their place down in the Financial District, the end of last week turned into a mini free-for-all for my diet, starting with indulging in free pizza for lunch at the office and ending with me ordering from my favorite Dominican restaurant in the Heights for dinner; I told myself it was because I had barely any groceries in the apartment to make a decent meal, but in reality I’d had a glass or two of wine and tipsy me figured “well, I already ate grains and dairy today so SCREW IT!” After settling in with the pup early Saturday afternoon, I went looking for a cup for water (because despite having watched the dog multiple times and having spent countless days and nights in this apartment, I still forget where everything is), and happened first upon a cabinet that contained, among other things, a jar of Nutella and something called “Cookie Chips.” I’d brought some leftover groceries with me and could have stuck closer to my normal diet if I wanted, but for Friday and Saturday I’d decided not to, which led to an interesting revelation on Sunday.

Sunday morning I woke up with what can only be described as a food hangover. My head hurt from all the sugar from a Nutella binge and an impulsive cupcake purchase, my skin was starting to break out from the dairy, and I was experiencing some gnarly stomach cramps due to I’m not even sure what. I wandered out of the guest room (aka my bedroom) in search of an essential oil or antacid or something to help, and found myself in R/H’s bathroom staring at a scale. Now, given my sordid history with anorexia, I do not own a scale and never will – but more often than not, I will still weigh myself if I see one. I know the number doesn’t matter. I know that. But Sunday morning after a delicious night of treats from R and H’s cabinets, their scale said that I was up 10 pounds from the end of Whole30, and seeing that number put me in a mental tailspin. Truly, I haven’t indulged in the Eating Disorder part of my brain in probably a year, but for whatever reason, this time, I did.

Life after an eating disorder is an endless struggle to think a certain way, constantly fighting to remember no, you’re not fat, and food is not scary. Before Whole30 I was really good at disassociating which voice was the eating disorder and which voice was rational thought, because okay, maybe I didn’t need to eat six KitKats from the work candy drawer that day but I won’t feel bad that I indulged in chocolate. During Whole30 I was really conscious about which voice could have been the eating disorder versus which was my body adapting to new meal patterns and eating schedules and the lack of sugar. It’s post-Whole30 where things have blurred; there’s this pull now to stay as close to that diet as possible because it makes a tangible difference in everything from my sleep, to my anxiety, to my work and to yoga, but once I’ve had something non-compliant for the day it turns into an awful cycle of “MIGHT AS WELL EAT EVERYTHING” followed by crippling anxiety about whether that will be the meal that finally makes me fat. Sunday night I sat on the couch for a while staring at a photo I’d put on Instagram earlier, a post-Bikram yoga sweaty shot where I’m in a sports bra, mentally bouncing between Rational Thought and Eating Disorder, and as I felt the panic start to rise, I immediately shut down Instagram and texted my soul sister E, the only person who could calm me down when anorexia rears its ugly head.

“It never really goes away, does it” I told E after we’d talked me down from my Nutella-induced food panic. “No,” she agreed. We talked a little more about how annoying it can be dealing with life post-ED, how one day I’m totally fine letting myself enjoy that third slice of pizza or a KitKat from the candy drawer, and then a week later I’m fighting back tears over a number on a scale. I hadn’t had a food-driven breakdown like this in months, maybe even over a year, and I’m lucky that E was available to help me step back and realize that everything is fine. I’m actually kind of grateful that I went a little crazy on R/H’s cabinets (*with full intentions to replace the Nutella I PROMISE), because I think I was starting to give in to the old rigid food rules that precede a relapse, hiding the anxieties connected to “bad foods” behind Whole30, instead of realizing what was happening and nipping it in the bud.

I’m not going to change my diet or lifestyle following this revelation – I still feel immensely better physically when I’m not eating things like grains and dairy, and frankly I prefer salads and smoothies to pretty much all foods – but this week my goal is to indulge in something every day, and to let myself enjoy it. Maybe it’s more Nutella on a spoon, a soy latte, or a warm croissant from the bakery in Chelsea Market; maybe it’s just an extra piece of fruit in the afternoon and a bigger portion for lunch. If I’ve learned anything else from yoga, aside from how to really shut down the anorexia part of my brain in such a way that dealing with this felt foreign, it’s that everything in life takes constant practice. Growth, after all, only comes after you slide back, fall down hard and still pick yourself up, always working so hard to move forward.

19 Again

How do you explain what it’s like to have one of the best weekends ever when the worst possible plan change happened during that weekend? That’s a question I’ve been working to answer while putting this post together, because the weekend really was a balancing act of “THIS IS THE BEST” along with “This isn’t the same.” This past weekend was 90 percent perfect, between the weather and the activities, but that 10 percent missing is huge. More than anything this weekend, more than seeing my college campus again, more than seeing people I hadn’t in five years, more than trying to figure out who changed and how much since graduating, this past weekend was about my anchor G, my soul sister E and I reuniting for our annual trip, this year back at our old stomping grounds, where we met and where we became the group that we are today. E and I had planned to road trip down together on Friday while G would be flying in later that night. The worst part about living so far is that you can’t control what happens when your only option is flying, and due to crappy Texas weather and crappy fucking luck for all of us, G’s flight was cancelled on Friday, effectively ending her reunion weekend before it began. Nothing could fix the hole in the weekend that arose once we knew she wouldn’t be there with all of us; nothing was going to make it better that she was stuck in Texas by no choice of her own.

Though G’s absence colored the weekend with the hazy blue of a missing piece, this weekend was, in a word, wonderful. Even before E and I drove past the main entrance, we were bouncing in our seats at all the familiar sites, the CVS where we always bought beer, the grocery store with the best food. When we drove onto campus after however many hours in the car in as many hours of traffic, there was this funny mix of feelings; first, thinking “of course I’m here, this is home,” almost immediately followed by “No, this isn’t home anymore. God it’s good to be back.” Memories came rushing in like a flash flood when you least expected, driving pass the old fraternity lodges and walking up the path to the business school where I spent all my days. We had flashbacks of people watching on the green, wandering through the freshman boy’s dorm where the class of 2010 was housed this weekend, joking about how gross and uncomfortable it was to be showering there without shoes, even though it was likely as clean as it would ever be. The first night we drank cheap beer for free in the Greek Theater with all of the reunion classes, and I had this flash to life in five year increments, coming back here every time to see how campus has changed, asking the new reunion people what life was like during their time at the school. It really felt like coming home again.

There were friendly reminders that we’ve all grown up a little, like the engagement rings dancing on fingers, new hair or a new attitude, but I think we all wanted a night, even just one night, where we could go back in time together and pretend nothing had changed. Friday night after the Greek Theater event the class of 2010 went back to our home for the weekend and decided to party like it was 2006, beer pong and flip cup lined the hallways, music blasted from every room. We took shots to college and real life, cheered when our team sunk the last cup, hugged even the people we didn’t know or like that much and asked everyone for an update on life. We blasted special playlists for the weekend until the wee hours, and when I finally crawled back to my room and into my single bed to sleep off the inevitable long morning, I fell asleep with a smile like a secret, as old memories kept flooding back and new ones made their way in. The next day time moved slowly, breakfast in the dining hall turned into a leisurely walk around campus in the blazing heat, turned into a nap on the dorm floor turned into another walk just because it was campus and it was there. E and I found a cockroach in our room at one point and though we had to call a man friend to come and kill it because cockroaches are gross, we spent the rest of the night laughing that of course that would happen. Our class dressed up for a reception later that night and listened to the band play all our old favorite tunes before fireworks signaled the end of a long day. It wasn’t the same because G wasn’t there, but it was as perfect as things could be, given the circumstances.

The last morning I woke up earlier than everyone else and decided to take a final walk, hoping to find a good spot to meditate for a while. Instead I found myself walking in circles around the lake with tears streaming down my face. Not sobbing tears, not happy bubbling tears, but a slow stream of emotion falling silently down my face as I looked left and right to old memories and ghosts of some of the best and worst years of my life. I passed the field where my first college boyfriend and me got into a screaming match the first night back from summer senior year, me sobbing for another chance and him pushing me away; I walked by the apartment where a drunken public makeout session at a birthday party started the next four years of my life. I saw the dorm where I met G and E, and the place I worked on campus looked just the same. I did end up sitting for a bit and meditating while I looked over the lake, taking a few minutes to let old and new memories settle and still, enjoying the last moments of being back in the place where I lived and worked and loved for four years. It wasn’t as sad leaving the campus this time compared to five years ago, though. I have a life I’ve built in NYC that I wouldn’t change for college or anything else. But it was wonderful for a few days, despite the whopping G-sized hole in everything, to head back and reminisce. This weekend kicked off a summer of adventures and unknowns by sending me back to the place where I was the most adventurous and wild I had ever been. Here’s to keeping that spirit as the next season unfolds.