More Growing Pains | A Tribute To My Old Friends

Up until now life has gradually transitioned from one stage to another, without much of a bump in the road. The change from child to teen was pretty painless and the switch from high school to college even more so. At any given point I’ve always been, not just ready, but eagerly anticipating the next stage of life. And until recently – that had always worked out just fine for me. I didn’t just think I was ready, or feel ready, I always was ready.

I was so fond of these transitional, big life moments that I actually sought them out, for no reason other than craving the blood rush it gave me. When I first graduated college, I was ecstatic to be an adult. And once I was, I was even more ecstatic to be an adult in New York City. Nothing new, I thought. But I was wrong.

Twenty-three is still so young, people say to me (especially here where 50 is the new 25). And maybe they’re right. I mean if all goes well I’m only about a quarter-way through with my life. But age is just a number. It’s not the numerical value of the years I’ve lived that’s scaring me, it’s about how much has changed during them. And the fact that for the first time in my life, this change that I can see and feel, is unwelcome.

In the past year or two, I’ve lost more friends than I’ve gained. This isn’t for any dramatic, intentional reason. It’s the mere fact that life keeps moving, faster and faster, and if you don’t stick together, you don’t grow together. And if you don’t grow together, you grow apart. I always thought to “grow apart” simply meant falling out of touch with someone. But recently I realized that growing apart is actually when you fall out of touch for so long that when you try to come back together, you don’t find the same person you once knew.

My parents preached it, but I never believed it: growing up is scary. And what’s even scarier is that sometimes, when you just want to retreat and go back to the people who were once your home, the people that knew you and all your teenage weirdness so well, they’re no longer there. Maybe I’m the only person consumed by a sense of dread and regret over this, but I honestly want nothing more than to pick up the phone and talk to the middle school or high school friends like nothing’s changed. Like we still spend hours talking to each other, watching Laguna Beach, binge eating junk food and then doing crunches to negate the previously inhaled junk food. But everything’s changed.

I don’t mean “change” in a bad way. Don’t think that for a second. Every day I find out that someone else is moving abroad, choosing their life partner (!!), making their first million or doing their part to solve some large scale global problem I don’t know enough about. My childhood friends are nothing short of amazing. I just wish I had been there to watch them go from kids trying to understand themselves and life, to the incredible adults they are today.

* Shout out to everyone who was a part of my journey to adulthood, big or small, from Solon or from Naperville. Every victory of yours fills my heart with so much happiness and I wish you all nothing but the absolute best in life. Hope to catch up with you someday soon. 

Love,

K

Adult Homesickness

Yesterday, Abi asked me who came to drop me off when I started college in 2005. I retrieved the memory from my brain effortlessly. I remember the day so clearly. I was wearing a really ugly red shirt (hindsight is twenty twenty), and my mom, dad, and K all came to drop me off. Dad did all the heavy lifting, and Mom set up my room (a single, because if you know me at all, you know I love my own space), and when they left, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

I was a really social kid, and felt like I already had 50 friends at Miami because Facebook had just rolled out across the majority of colleges, but I was precociously aware that my parents and sister leaving my dorm room that day marked the end of something major. And I knew it would never be the same.

This all sounds incredibly dramatic, but take a second to think back to this moment of your life. Was there a single kid that was anything less than ecstatic to be starting college? If so, I didn’t know any…

I’ve always been aware – too aware – of closing moments. Those last time times. Like moving to my college dorm, like getting my first apartment knowing I’d never live at “home” again, like having almost my ENTIRE family together during the wedding, the majority of my friends, pretty much everyone in the world that I loved. Walking down the aisle with my dad, knowing that once that moment ended, my entire perspective on family would shift.

Not all of these moments are sad. Ends come with beginnings, after all. But they are certainly bittersweet. And sometimes, I still feel what 17-year-old Ambika felt when her family drove off campus that day. Impending homesickness. Or moment sickness? That imminent missing. That inevitable pang of nostalgia. Knowing that even if things are wonderful (perhaps MORE wonderful than they’ve ever been), they’ll still never be the same. And even as we grow our own families, and build our own homes, and create our own lives, we’ll still sometimes yearn for the moments that have passed, even if they’re now completely inapplicable.

I woke up today from a hilarious text from my uncle that included this picture:

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And it just made me miss home. Sitting at the kitchen table with my mom and aunt, having tea. Taking ridiculous photos with all of the Gautam Girls. Starting the fire-pit in the backyard with the dads. Talking sports with my grandfather. Hearing stories from my grandmother. It made me miss all of my old friends, from back in high school, and even before (sorry to those of you who have been getting ridiculous comments from me on Facebook posts from 2005).

I’m a month out from my 28th birthday, and here I am, wishing I was sitting on the floor in our Solon living room while my mom braids my hair, watching some crappy Hindi movie, that K is WAY too invested in, and Dad’s laughing at. Even though my home is now in New York, with my own husband, and my own puppy, and I love that more than anything, I don’t think I’ll ever stop being homesick.

xx

A

New York City: Four Years Down

It’s really weird to admit this. Especially considering the majority of our readers are likely New Yorkers who LOVE being New Yorkers, but New York never used to be my thing. I wasn’t the type of person that dreamed about moving here one day. That fantasized about flying through the New York streets in a yellow Taxi, the skyline of the city creating a consistent sheen of bright light and color. It just never really appealed to me that much. It felt oversaturated, hyperbolic, self-aggrandizing. I just knew it would chew me up and spit me out, and frankly I enjoyed living in a city that skewed herbivore.

I was a softy through and through (and through and through), and when I moved to Chicago, I thought that was as city as I’d go. I loved Chicago. In spite of the harrowing winters, my long commutes, and my bike getting stolen (actually, that one still stings). For one, K and I lived together (every close sister-combo’s dream), in an impeccably decorated, two-bedroom, apartment. I had a balcony off my bedroom, guys. I had two sinks in my bathroom. A bathtub and a standing shower. A desk, a queen-sized bed, two night stands, a TV stand, and a couch all in my room. IN MY ROOM.

I loved my job at FCB. I loved my smart, down-to-earth, genuine, kind, friends. I felt like a part of something. Friday night happy hours, overly indulgent dinners at Portillos (that glutinous chocolate cake though…), karaoke. Life felt pretty great.

But the English language gave us qualifiers like “pretty” great for a reason. For moments and feelings of inadequacy. When something is just incomplete. And there was something very significant missing from my life in Chicago.

Abi.

So after many conversations, job interviews, lonely days, and red-eye flights, I decided to take the plunge, and move to New York (because I couldn’t move my then-finance-boyfriend to Chicago when he was in the finance capital of the world, and I watched enough Mad Men to convince myself that New York was the place to be in Advertising, too).

I packed up my beautiful apartment, made a deal with K that we’d live in the same city again one day (BLESS), and trudged over to the Big Apple.

This was exactly four years ago today. And I can’t believe how much New York has changed my life, but maintained my essence.

It has injected me with confidence, strength, resilience. My skin is much much thicker, but my soul is just as gentle as it always has been. It’s taught me to love myself, and put myself first, and treat myself to everything life has to offer. To take my time growing up. That maturity doesn’t come with stature, or money, or property, or children, it manifests in a mindset. That birds of a feather don’t need to always flock together! And as cheesy as it is, diversity is life! It’s taught me that being weird is f*cking awesome. That I want to have a story unlike any other’s. That I don’t care if people think I’m kooky, as long as I’m being true to myself. Because being true to oneself is the single most important pillar of living the best life. I’ve learned when to say yes, and when to say no. I’ve learned that it’s perfectly fine (/completely amazing) to spend a Friday night on the couch in my dog’s company, watching Charmed and eating boxed mac n cheese. I’ve learned that when something becomes an obligation instead of a pleasure, it’s okay to let it go (within reason, we’re all responsible adults here).

Don’t get me wrong – New York has torn me down. Way down. But, man, has it built me up. If my pre-NYC-self saw my life now, she’d be thrilled. And maybe even in awe. Knock on wood.

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Not to mention, now I’m totally the type of person that looks out of the windows of my yellow taxi at the New York City skyline with gratitude and dreamy wonder.

Love you NYC,

A