So I was 21 and a little bit drunk and very barefoot, wearing a dress and lying on the turf of the football field holding hands with a friend- with our backs on the ground attempting to trace the constellations with our eyes. It was in that time after midnight when all the hours seem to blend together, and in the middle of a month that is much too cold for girls to be lying outside barefoot and in dresses. I looked up at the sky so I wouldn’t have to look her in the eyes, and so she couldn’t see that I was crying. I knew she knew, as I felt her squeeze my hand just a little bit tighter.

So I was 16 and in the middle of probably my 8th existential crisis that week. I was sitting in a rock in the middle of the dessert, and I couldn’t see a single other human being. It was humid and hot, but the breeze still made me shiver. I had done so much that day- climbed Masada, swam in the Dead Sea, sang around a campfire at a Bedouin tent, and drank so much tea that I was sure I’d never be thirsty again. I’d sat around the fire and quietly whispered secrets to my friends as we stared at the flames dancing in front of us instead of each other. The words always seem to come easier as the hour gets later and our eyes are set somewhere besides on each other’s faces.

So I was 18 and pretty sure I was about to die, and the idea didn’t really upset me. I held my keys between my fingers, like some kind of pathetic and meek Wolverine, unsure if I was more afraid of the world around me or the world in my head. I walked deliberately down 10 Chicago blocks, just trying to make it home so I could curl up under the pile of blankets that I had been using as sheets as I couldn’t bring myself to do laundry, and while I was entirely apathetic to the dirt and the smell, I couldn’t deal with the water I had spilled on them that morning. I was in a bad place, and I sat alone crying, curled up with my back on the heater trying to feel anything at all.

So I was 17 and I felt like I owned the world. I was standing on the top of a car, parked in lot somewhere between Annapolis and Severna Park. It was late at night on a Wednesday, and I had school in the morning, but that didn’t really matter. I felt invincible. My friend sat in the car and giggled, blasting a cd that was the kind of mix of angsty indie, shameless pop and beautiful show-tunes that seems so indicative of girls growing up in the suburbs. We didn’t have to be anywhere or do anything we didn’t want to do. We were free and fearless, and full of hope for our lives that felt like they were just on the brink of really beginning.

So I was 20 and walking much farther away from campus then the amount of clouds suggested that I should feel comfortable doing. My friend and I were talking in a way that movie writers with their pens that spit wit and cliché and aim for truth would envy.   We were a half a mile from campus when the sky turned from mildly worrying to downright scary. A mile out when the rain started to fall hard enough that we decided that we should head back. We were surrounded by empty fields and abandoned houses and silos full of things I didn’t want to know. It was wet and windy and we were stuck in a state of emotional in between. We walked back slowly- me in flats, her barefoot- discussing the future and boys and politics, the times our parents made us cry, and the times we felt we had disappointed them. We felt brash and alive- scared but optimistic.

So I was 19 and snuggled under the covers in my dorm room watching my roommate dance around yelling the words to Christmas songs with the kind of aggression normally reserved for things much scarier than Jingle Bells. Another friend sat perched on the edge of my bed, eyes darting back and forth between me- confused and tired- and my roommate- singing and dancing. Soon the two of them were dancing together. And soon I was dancing with them as well. Our RA probably should have come and asked us to keep it down, but since no one knocked on the door we kept shouting words to songs that were more meant to be crooned. We did dumb dance moves solely to make each other giggle, and ended up in a pile on the floor, laughing to the point where it almost hurt to breathe.

So right now I’m 21 and sitting in the comfiest chair in the family room, listening to the world move around me. My fingers are moving rapidly over the keys, trying to get the words out with the same speed I am thinking them, and almost succeeding. Football is on the tv, and my mother is cooking chicken wings while my dad does the dishes. My brother and his friends are making football jokes that go over my head and the dog is sitting at my feet. The fireplace is crackling and the house feels warm and full of life.

I have a pretty good memory, but it’s not infallible. I’m made up of memories and people, and emotions that I felt in times that I don’t remember. But I want to remember all of it. I want to live my life like a scrapbook; collecting the things that make up the whole, allowing myself to look back at them once and a while.

I think that’s what I’ve been trying to do here. Create a memory book for myself and for anyone else that is along for my very strange ride. What better way to remember then to share outward- with the people who make me want to remember so much?

So I guess this is thank you. Thanks for creating moments with me, and letting me revel in the times I’ve left behind and the times that are on their way. Thanks for laughing and thanks for caring, and thanks for not laughing when I care so much.

This is my ending to Blog Every Day November, but the start of whatever comes next. I’m not sure what that will be. But I know I’ll be here, writing all about it, so I can make sure that I remember it all. 

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  1. for what it's worth, I think this is one of the best things you've ever written, too. x