Thursday, May 1, 2014

28 years of memories

I turned 28 on Saturday. Two more years until 30. Then I won't be a "twenty-something" anymore. It's okay though. Besides the lines slowly sinking further into my doomed pale skin and the few pounds that aren't nearly as easy to work off these days, I wouldn't even notice the difference. And anyway, it's nice to be a woman...not so much a girl anymore. I feel like I've grown into my body in a way that I wouldn't have understood in my early twenties. I've learned now to love my thighs that touch and calf muscles that refuse to let me wear slim pants without bunching at my knees. I don't mind my forehead or eyes that slightly droop. Imperfections I used to despise and scheme about camouflaging, now I feel are just part of what makes me different. What makes you different, makes you special. Special, to all the people that love you. It's like one day you wake up, and that's just...enough. Enough now to feel content. I've also really started to appreciate the people in my life. Especially those that take time out for me. Time is so so precious. If you have people who not only remember something like your birthday, but take the time to actually call or send a card...that's just really lovely. Those are the people I feel so ultimately blessed to know. And lucky for me, many of them are friends. Friends I choose to call family...that I picked out, and I just love them all so much.

Boyfriend made me a badass cake, among other celebratory things which I'll share later. My menu needs its own post. 

Here is 28 years of my life from what I remember right here and now
1. I loved to walk in my walker...all the time. And I always slept whenever I was supposed to. Unfortunately, that's probably part of the reason I always sleep now when I'm not supposed to. I was born blonde and I had an awesome bath towel with a hood that looked like a bear.
2. My dad used to squeeze me between his legs. I swear I remember this. They say I can't, but what do they know? I had a teddy bear he gave me. I still have it and it smells like Oregon. They put me in one-piece big poofy suits in the winter.
3. I threw tantrums. Like, rockstar tantrums. But I loved my mother. She was always strong for me and I remember being able to tell when my dad wasn't there anymore. I can hear her say my name a certain way and I remember deciding that was a good time to be quiet.
4. I loved tea sets. I had a day bed with brass bars just like Molly Brown's. I got stung by a lot of wasps once when I tried to pump water out of an old well. I remember feeling the welt on the back of my neck. It often bothered me when my shoes got too small, so I was barefoot most of the time. I always knew my feet would turn out calloused and dry like my mom's - it's okay though, who needs pretty feet when you can walk through rocks.
5. I was very independent. I wanted to dress myself, and sadly enough - my mom let me. I am now haunted by dorky photographs of my childhood self. I liked books and I felt really proud when I remembered how to say big words. (I still do.)


6. I wanted to be a mom. Yeah, I know...kids are stupid. It was about this age my grandpa let me ride on his lawn mower. I could not for the life of me understand why he had to steer - I was perfectly capable of doing it myself.
7. I loved to sing and dance, but I was shy. So, I danced just good enough but tried not to get noticed - I continued doing this for the reminder of my dance career. It's one of the only things in my life I regret. I wish I could have snapped out of it sooner. 
8. I didn't like Oklahoma at first, but our house backed up to a kind of forest. I explored, played with rolly pollies and daddy long-legs, learned to climb trees and rocks. It was okay after all. I missed my grandmas in Oregon.
9. This is the age I remember noticing the boy across the street. He had a cool bike and he played with me in the forest sometimes. They were very poor and their house smelled like cigarettes; we stayed outside.
10. A mean girl, Ashley, lived next door and she used to pick on a young girl up the street. My sister encouraged me to stick up for her because she was smaller. I wasn't afraid and to this day - it's the only fight I've ever been in. I won. 
11. I figured out I was good at tap dancing. I could stay with the chorus (not stand out) but still put out all my effort. Our dance turned out so good we got to tap in a parade. My later best friend's skirt came down and she just kept on tapping - we weren't friends yet, but I always liked her after that. My step dad used to make me pick up pecans in the yard, I detested it quite dramatically of course. Summer camp was my favorite. I repelled, canoed, shot bows and arrows, and I held hands with different boys. One of them asked to be my boyfriend then he mailed me a hemp necklace for Christmas that year. I still know this boy, we ended up going to the same college.
12. I had those late 80's colorful speckled, round frames for glasses, got my first set of metal braces with bright colored bands on every tooth, and I blame my mom for not insisting I learn to do my hair to cover my cowlick. Needless to say, 12 was embarrassing for me. I was also teased for being skinny and flat-chested. I played teacher with my little nieces - it made me feel smart. I started collecting CD's and sang Garth Brooks and Leann Rimes with gusto.
13. I had my first art class. I loved to draw people's hands. I'm sure they weren't very good, but I liked to imagine myself as an artist. I started keeping a journal, which I kept up until I started working. I still have one of them someplace. I would eat an entire pizza and 2 Pepsis all by myself. I loved to watch my sister curl each hair with the tiniest curling iron ever.
14. I went to France. I don't really remember the sites. All I remember is how much I wished the other kids would like me, but I didn't know how to be fun and outgoing like they were. So, I just tagged along and tried to fit in. I do remember Versailles though. Later that year, I had my first real boyfriend. I learned the hard way to listen to your friends when they don't like someone you're dating. My older brother got me drunk on Wild Turkey - I still hate the stuff. 
15. My favorite thing was my bed comforter which showcased Chips Ahoy cookies, and seeing how dirty I could get my chuck t's. My dad told me to be as weird as I wanted so I wore colorful socks and spiked belts. I had a hamster named Charmander, smoked outside on my trampoline, and was respected by friends for being able to draw really good fake tattoos with Sharpies. My best friend and I got on chat rooms and made fun of all the creeps.
16. I started going to concerts like crazy, saw Maroon 5 before they were famous. I thought the lead singer was a dweeb and sounded like a girl. I stole this guy's shoelace from the front row, crowd-surfed, and jumped and yelled for hours in the rain. I also listened to rap music and practiced doing the butterfly in my bedroom. I sat and drew cartoon strips in the ticket booth at a movie theater - my first job. I made wonderful friends there. It was like the suburbs made me shy and now I could be normal.
17. I had a nice boyfriend in Tulsa who told me how he felt about me. We were best friends. I watched Fear Factor, read Pride & Prejudice for the first time, and I really wanted to go to college like my mom (she just started her accounting degree the year before). I helped my sister have a baby (literally). I remember feeling like maybe I was pretty, but I couldn't be tan like the other girls...so I just never let anyone see my legs. We adopted my step dads great nephew and he became my brother. He shoved me into the microwave door. I wore hand warmers and black dickies
18. My sister was sick again, bad this time. I took drawing at community college twice a week. I labored over the perfect charcoal egg and drawing a houseplant with my eyes closed. I stayed at my boyfriend's a lot. His mom didn't care and I didn't want to be home. I lost my favorite vintage Trans Am t-shirt after my shift bagging groceries. I worked two jobs most of the time, one time three. School was easy - I was only taking 3 morning classes at the high school because of vo-tech afternoons. I probably had 6 people to call actual, real friends at graduation. A non-traditional experience, to say the least.
19. She died, and I saw them take her out the front door. The CD I made wouldn't work in the player at the funeral, so they played a bunch of cliché music she would have hated. This is the reason I will forever despise Kelly Clarkson. I loved my English class and going to ballets with my mom and Sonnie. I took Personal Finance and I remember I decided I would get every dollar the government would give me for school. I got a tattoo on my chest for lovely reasons mostly, but also because I decided I didn't want to blend in anymore. I shared an apartment with my best friend from jr high and ate a lot of macaroni & cheese (who am I kidding, I still do).
20. The boyfriend moved in with my roommate and I. I started my internal list of what I could and couldn't put up with (pretty sure I finally have this figured out, and clothes on the floor is a no). I worked with my mom in her office and found I'm good at organizing. I wore red lipstick for the first time. I found Dani and my honest love of anything not in Oklahoma. I did laundry at my parents house on weekends. I like to stand/sit around with my dad.
21. I got a dog. I lived in a house and hosted a party. I wasted hours at movie theaters to escape a life I wasn't ready for, but was too cowardly to reject just yet. My birthday wish was to have a real party (this didn't come true until 25). I finished community college and decided to pursue a degree in art - knowing full well it would amount to nothing but paper in terms of a career. I remember I started to really know myself. I discovered loneliness. I watched Sex in the City and bought an expensive handbag. The final Harry Potter book came out; there was nothing more to look forward to.
22. We finally broke up, I bought a zebra print shower curtain. Everyone pitied me, I pretended to be sad when really I just felt rushing relief. Love shows itself in so many facets. I had to be dark this time to give us both light. I felt like an adult. I painted 3 watercolors a night for 3 weeks and got an A in an art class no one ever did enough paintings to get an A in. I made new friends that I really liked and we ate a lot of cheesy pasta together in a building called "ak-ak". I dressed up like Mia from Pulp Fiction for Halloween.
23. I was ambitious and excited. Got cocky, got knocked back down. Learning lessons and getting prepared. I loved Art History. My brother was growing up and I tried to know him. I worried about my 4.0 at least 30 minutes per day or more. I learned how to flirt and constantly overslept. I remember realizing I was self-absorbed. 
24. I moved to Colorado. I cooked dry, sadly bland chicken for every day of the week and went organic for 3 months...then I ate my first hamburger. I remember deciding I wanted to be a better person. I bought a fuzzy faced prissy pup that likes to wear sweaters. I knew directions now because of the mountains. I learned I liked antiques and fish tacos, and I bought my own house.
25. I understood the meaning of a "hard day's work" and learned how to make friends as an adult. I tore out a concrete wall by myself with a sledge hammer, stuccoed the front of my house, and fancied myself a landlady - became one. I was so empowered. A thoughtful, outgoing guy with shiny hair fell asleep in my lap. My dad bought me a saw. 
26. California finally found me. Ice cream cake, new family, and the glory of working from home. New love is the ultimate contentment. This year felt like the eye of a storm when all of the wonderful things in the world were flying at me. I caught every single one and carry them in my heart forever.
27. I learned about beer. Pearls. Privacy and decisions. Became an actual traveler - something about myself I'll always cherish. Fulfilled the dream of a 16 year old girl in Oklahoma who wants nothing more than to disappear into a million walking headphones.

*Some of these may be the wrong year. I did the best I could :)

Spoken with all the love a 28 year old can muster,
Ellie xoxo