December 30, 2013

Coming full circle.

A lot of thoughts are swirling around in my head right now and what I write might not come out coherent.  It's easier said than written, but I'll do my best.  I've been thinking what my greater purpose is here on Earth.  I'm tempted to just write 'IS THERE A GOD!?' except that's not really what I'm questioning.  While I believe there are forces greater than me, I do not believe I have to pray to them for something to happen.  I'm discovering my own spirituality and guiding it are mostly superstitions and intuitions.  But hey, it's whatever gets us through, right?

Any real existential crisis aside, in the past few months I've learned more and more about myself, about my passions.  This past semester was a good indication that I value talking to people more, face-to-face, than completing certain homework assignments in a timely manner.   It was far more fulfilling to know I'd connected with my classmates -- many of whom may be my lifelong friends -- instead of acing an Econ problem set or fully understanding my Spanish literature.  Take my friend David, for instance.  He's quite easily everyone's favorite -- simply because he is the nicest human being you'll ever meet -- yet I secretly know he's my favorite and our friendship will last beyond college.  He seriously told me once that he was having a bad day and then by just remembering I existed, he was cheered up.  I didn't know I could have that effect.  But it's amazing!  And now it has become the effect I strive to have on every person in my life, although I know this is probably unrealistic.

This past semester, I also carried around index cards and whenever I had some free time (or let's be honest, when I was avoiding homework), I wrote a note to a friend on a card and then mailed it to them.  I had the intention to reach out and hopefully make their days a little brighter.  I know just what it's like to get a piece of mail from one of you blogger folks.  I treasure it.  So when one friend of mine received a card, she went so far as to make her Facebook status,

Wow, little, sweet, unexpected acts of kindness can really make your day. Feeling wonderful right now. Thank you  

Subsequently, I felt wonderful knowing that I had successfully helped make someone else's day.  Thus, one of my goals for 2014 shall be to give more than I receive.  I am so incredibly fortunate and privileged to even have the time to sit and reflect on how privileged I am.  It's funny how that works, isn't it.

I vow to also stop holding grudges against people.  A week or so ago now, Puja and I ran into this girl who made my senior year miserable.  As we chatted and she began sharing what she's up to, I realized she was a bit more mature than we last talked at graduation.  I guess, a year and half later, the universe wanted to show me things were okay.  I could let go, and continue living my life after high school.  That's hometown life for ya, though.  You're going to run into people you know, and you're better off smiling.

If you don't follow me on Instagram, you probably missed photos from my trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for Thanksgiving.  My friend Dan was kind enough to invite me to his house for the short break, and I was more than excited to spend time in Wisconsin, a state I had previously never visited.  To get there, our mutual friend Carolyn agreed to drive us.  She was already headed that way to visit her uncle so it was super convenient.  Days before the break, however, her car broke down -- and even worse, it wasn't going to be repaired in time.  Luckily her family in the Twin Cities let her borrow a car, no muss, no fuss.

For my first ever road trip with exclusively friends, I thought it was fun albeit not everything the movies make it out to be.  We mostly talked about family and relationships, listened to the mixes I prepared (ahem, singing along to "Cecilia"), and watched the corn fields pass by.

Minutes after arriving in Milwaukee, Dan insisted he and his parents take me to a restaurant called Kopp's.  I ate a great hamburger and I was practically demanded to try their delicious custard.  Having never tried the ice cream competitor before, I wasn't sure what to expect.  It did not disappoint and was indeed delicious.

Then I spent most of the next four days either sitting in front of the fireplace, eating, or riding in a car.  His parents were excellent hosts and I felt thoroughly relaxed.  They even included me in the annual white elephant gift exchange they do with family who come over for dinner.  Dinner, by the way, was AMAZING.  In an effort to make small talk, I accidentally asked Dan's younger cousin if she had any friends.  I'm not giving you context on that one.

On Friday, we picked up Julia who was also visiting a sub-set of her family in Milwaukee and staying in a hotel with her mom.  Dan driving in downtown was the funniest thing.  We probably drove the same four blocks at least three times.  When we finally picked her up, his grand tour of his hometown commenced.  There was something priceless about the entire day.  As we marveled at his high school, were regaled with stories of his childhood shenanigans, and overall generally saw his home and the surrounding area through his eyes, I was fascinated with how this is my life.  I'm old enough to know peers on the other side of the country who drive me around their hometowns and expose more and more of themselves with every landmark they point to and every side story they tell.

We ate a good lunch at one of his favorite places, Café Corazon.  Their decor can be summed up as "hispanic hipster".  Afterwards, we continued Dan's Tour of Milwaukee, complete with the park where he had his first kiss and the Milwaukee Art Museum.  The latter looks over Lake Michigan and that was such a gorgeous, almost entirely blue sight.

When my stay with Dan was over, I rode back to campus with Carolyn and her sister, stopping in Madison to meet up with a friend of Carolyn's sister.  We took photos in front of the capital before heading over to Daisy's Cupcakery for brunch.  Not particularly hungry, I only had cider and then regretted not getting a cupcake to go.  Dan took the Megabus back later that afternoon and he had to bring back with him the coat I left in his parent's coat closet.  Yeah, whoops…

That trip made up for most the crap I had to deal with in the beginning of the semester.  (Did I mention my hysteric breakdown when I went home for fall break?  Oh I didn't?  Well, it happened.)  Right, so the sojourn to Wisconsin and put me in a pretty good frame of mind to tackle finals a few short weeks later, which were, as to be expected, emotionally and physically exhausting.

One small reprieve from everything awful was hanging out with David, Nicole, Emily, and Andy.  It was yet another reminder of how fortunate I am to have such awesome friends.

My mom came and visited me briefly after I finished exams on the 12th, but that night in the hotel I slept and slept.  And slept.  (Sorry Mom.)  The next day I packed frantically and said goodbye to friends.  After a three-hour plane ride and more sleeping, I came home to this:

Although I've had the pleasure of seeing Emilia, Brianna and the biffles, my holidays were the least festive they've ever been.  Thus, I've accepted that 2014 can only be better.  Here's to a better second semester, successful planning for Scotland, and awesome friends.

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