A feeling of “grown-ness”

A few weeks ago, as I was riding on a boozy boat, surrounded by some of my oldest and best friends, I felt old.

I don’t mean old in the typical sense of wrinkles and graying hair, or painfully hungover after two glasses of wine from the night before, or surrounded by all my friends’ children (in fact, not only do none of us have children, none of our other friends from this trip are married, either). I mean old because our “grown-ness” dawned on me.

Most of us have been friends since about 2006. It was early in our college careers, and we were inseparable. We ate meals together, drank beers together, danced together, cried together. It was an emotionally packed time in our lives, where 5AM bedtimes were the usual, and 1PM recaps from the night before were routine. All of us would say college was a magical time. We agree that we had the most quintessential college experience, and it defined the strong friendships we have today.

Honestly, little has changed. I’ll say again, we were on a booze cruise, with coolers filled with beer, handles of whiskey, a few bottles of Rosé (typical). We were laughing hysterically, calling each other out, making fun as each one of us toppled over while tubing from the back of the boat (also typical). It was like we were in 2006, again. Except we weren’t.

We had new friends in the group, too. New loves, who at this point had turned into old loves, turned from new friends to old friends. We celebrated two 28th birthdays. We spoke about moving, and settling down, and careers, and families. How many weddings we’d all attended this summer, and how many more there were to go.

It was the first time, with our historic group of friends, that we stayed in each night. Laid on the living-room floor. Watched football. Had whistling contests. Cuddled with Ziggy the dog. None of us had the desire to go bar hop, see the Floridian scenes, wear “going out clothes,” we were just content being together. Grilling on the balcony, getting adjusted by the Chiropractors in the group, and playing Heads Up. If our 20-year-old selves saw us now, they’d wonder when we got so boring. But our 28-year-old selves were just 100% content. Even if we did fall asleep by 11PM.

My 28th birthday came around this weekend. And it was an incredible weekend. Friday night celebrating our friends’ wedding in upstate New York, near a waterfall, among the hills, with instrumental Beyonce.

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And then Saturday, my birthday day. We celebrated on a rooftop in Brooklyn, surrounded by whichever friends and family could make it amidst the final weeks of wedding season, the bachelor and bachelorette parties, the marathon training, the work fire-drills, or the relationship-commitments. Even though some key folks were missing, it was my favorite birthday I’ve had in years. A small group of family and close friends that I’d met from 1995 through 2015, talking about things adults talk about – love, careers, taking shots. Happy and at ease with who they are. Excited about what’s to come. Under the setting sun, in my favorite neighborhood in New York.

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There were cocktails, cupcakes, tacos. The breeze was refreshing, and my outfit was on point. And 28, despite feeling old (or more precisely, aware of my “grown-ness”), was beautiful and complete.

Growing up feels good.

Thanks to all of those who celebrated with me.

Love,

A

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

Daddy’s Girls

To be totally honest, I’ve been thinking about writing this post for quite some time now, but I’ve been putting it off. Why would I ever want to put off something that’s for our dad? The reasons are two-fold:

1. Even though A and I are normally pretty good at finding the right words – when it comes to our good ol’ Papa, there are literally no words that can do the man justice.

2. Because any time I even think about my dad for more than five seconds – I start to cry. It’s a strange reaction really. Normally that would indicate that we don’t have a good relationship or something. But it’s actually quite the contrary.

Our mom has always been our best friend. A and I both talk to her at least once a day. We call her when we’re happy. Sad. Bored. Hungry. Confused (typically paired with the hunger as we go to her for cooking help). And when we just need to complain. Our dad has always been a little envious of this relationship. There’s been a number of times where I’ll be whispering something to our mom in the kitchen and our dad will scream from the living room, “Huh? What are we talking about?!”

When you’re a girl, your mom will always be your best friend, your locked box of secrets and your role model.  But your dad will always be equally as special and necessary. I can’t speak for A (I know she feels the same but would probably articulate it differently) but for me, our dad is both my biggest weakness and my biggest strength.

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Like most good oxymorons, it’s hard to understand. How can my greatest strength also be my greatest weakness? I’ll try my best to explain…

We have a strong connection, my father and I. He’s the one who pushes me – without even meaning to. He’s the reason I strive to be bigger, better, and more mature in matters of the mind and the heart. In my moments of weakness I think of him and know that he would never want me to shed tears or feel hopeless – and so I try my best to brush it off and stand up tall, because I’m Samir Gautam’s daughter. But so often, it is this very thought that kicks me even more. To know how my father would feel knowing that I’m a part of the big, real world now and thus, how hurt and cut up I’ve been at times.

I guess it all comes back to dad’s wanting to protect their baby girl’s from the harsh realities of the world. I know as teenagers we all went through that phase where we thought our parents were overprotective and wouldn’t give us enough space to grow.

(A quick rush of ghost arguments came back to me just now. “I want a later curfew”. “But all my friends are going to this concert”. “I can drive six hours by myself”. “These shorts ARE NOT too short”. And as an adult I’d like to say – the concerts were always sketchy. The six hour drives got lonely. And now that I see teenage girls prance around as an outsider…the shorts were most probably too short.)

So now that we’ve grown we can tell you this, dad – we will always want and need your protection. No matter how old we get. The world can be scary and no one’s armor is stronger than yours.

Lots of love,

A + K

A New New Yorker | Tale 2

I’ve been sitting on tale two of this series for a while – eagerly anticipating the next event that would inspire me to write. It hasn’t happened yet. So, I’m going to try to write on my lack of inspiration. Is this every writer’s nightmare or just mine?

I moved to New York City nearly a month ago now. My list of expectations was long and honestly, at this point, forgotten. Despite the move having happened not even a month ago, I can’t remember what all I had dreamt of – I can only remember how these hopes and dreams were unmet.

I think I thought it would be something like the opening credits to Sex and the City, where Carrie Bradshaw is fabulously strutting about the streets with a bright-eyed smile and a confidence only a character in a TV show can have. The sky behind her, blue as can be with some very picturesque cumulus clouds floating across the Chrysler building. Skip to the end of the video, the part where she gets splashed by a taxi cab – yup, that’s more like it.

Let me give you an example. One of the first thing I saw today was a man – how do I say this in a pretty, flowery way…I can’t…the man was literally peeing right outside the subway and I unfortunately saw it all! Last week on my way to work, I had to stop and gag up a little in a nearby trash can (which they should really put more of those around because if you look at the sidewalks you will clearly see that there is a lot of trash) because I couldn’t handle the various scents of NYC. Wet dogs, urine, dead fish – to name a few.

I know, I’m being a total Debby Downer. I don’t want to be! In fact, my least favorite question has quickly become “how are you liking it so far”, because it is for some reason impossible for me to lie and then I have to gently tell these happy New Yorkers that I have yet to fall in love with their home. A wants to kill me every time I talk about it and I’m sure I’ll get some backlash for writing about it.

But I think what I’ve learned so far is…

1. No matter where I go, I can’t leave behind who I am. I thought that this move would help redefine me – change me. But what I’m realizing is that even a new place can’t do that. Only I can. And getting myself to a place where I’m ready to let go of the past and embrace the present and future is a lot harder than packing up my apartment and leaving a city.

2. I’ve come to see that my present never seems as wonderful as it really is. While I’m living it, I’m discontent. Waiting for the next chapter. But when I look back, I ache for it. I’ve always heard those cheesy “the present is a present” quotes and dismissed them. Because well…that just sounds dumb. But learning to live in the moment and cherish it while you have it is so much better than regretting your lack of appreciation for it later in life.

So despite my less than warm feelings about The Big Apple – I’m going to make a public promise to give it a real chance. Feel free to keep me an honest woman here, guys.

With love,

K

A New New Yorker | Tale 1

Well, I’ve done it – I’m a New Yorker! At least, as much as I can be five days into my move here. I’ve mostly spent my first week here taking a mental break from work, actually hitting the gym, going out on solo expeditions and giving an excessive amount of love to my puppy nephew Kingston.

The more time I spend in this city, the more I come to see the difference between New Yorkers and the rest of the world. It first hit me at a Moth GrandSLAM event – where people take the stage to share their own personal stories with the audience. There I realized, through both the stories and audience participation, that New Yorkers are unapologetically themselves. They aren’t afraid to (in my Midwest opinion, over) share tidbits of themselves with complete strangers – no matter how dirty the truth is. People sent slips, though anonymous, up to the host during judging breaks telling tales of “that time I got stuck in a sand dune during a threesome” or “when I did cocaine with the guy that I was in love with…and his girlfriend”. Actual performers shared in their struggles with depression, losing loved ones and accidental viewing of child pornography.

On the streets of New York, you’ll see completely normal city dwellers fully embracing themselves – whether that means wearing what I perceive to be a ridiculous outfit, having open and loud conversations about their weekend activities or driving down the street with the windows down, putting on a Beyonce-inspired show for everyone.

At times I would have found all of this alarming and, for lack of better word, improper. I have not been raised to catch attention of strangers or overshare my personal stories. But now, just five days into my move, these people make me smile. To be yourself, so unfiltered for the world to see, is such a beautiful thing.

As I’ve shared with all of you before, one of the things I’ve personally been seeking is a better understanding of myself. Maybe it’s because I’m 23 and that’s too young to truly know you, or maybe it’s because I stayed in one city for eight years, not pushing past my comfort zone. Whatever it is, I’m confident that taking a few years to grow in a place where people are comfortable to explore and be themselves is just what I need.

Dreams For Sale

Happy hump day!

After searching for what seems like ever, I’m finally bringing you my latest playlist. It has months worth of emotions in it, so I can’t say it only has one feel, but I can say that I always put soul in them, but this one has heart.

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Special shout out to P and N for sharing their impeccable taste in music with me.

Hope you grow to love and feel these songs as much as I do!

Always yours,

K

K’s 2014 Flashback

2014 was a huge year for me. So many things changed, and so much happened that helped shape me into who I am today. It was probably the first year I noticed myself growing up, which was an adventure on its own.

While most people take the new year to focus on the present, I want to spend just a little time reflecting on the past.

Well. In prepartion for this post, I went through all my photographs from 2014 and I’m now experiencing the strangest mixture of over-the-moon happiness and deep sadness. Happy that it happened and sad that all those times are over.

2014 was a little like this for me…

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I graduated college. Which, considering that I just typed “gratuated”, is surprising. I want to take a second to tell those of you who have not graduated yet to really really embrace those years. I miss everything from $2 pitchers on a Wednesday night to entire weekends spent studying at the library (yes, I miss the library and studying). 2014 was the year of late-night talks with best friends, parties, and roadtrips.

FullSizeRender-2I started my first full-time, adult world, job. And let me tell you, it’s been a roller coaster. Firstly, I should say that I absolutely love it.  I get to spend every day in what was voted “Chicago’s Coolest Office”, surrounded by some of the smartest, most inspirational people. I actually get excited to go in every morning and finally do something that yields to more than just a large, red A scribbled at the top of a paper. That being said, I also struggle with the change everyday. I’m having a tough time finding the balance between adulthood and hard work and still having fun and doing things that satisfy a different side of me. I think this will be something I aim to achieve in 2015.

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And to keep away that evil eye...

And to keep away that evil eye…

I moved into my first apartment! I can definitely say, thanks to my parents help on move-in-day, that I’ve never felt more at home in my life. I spent months walking around stores with paint chips and creating my dream apartment, and it actually paid off.

So I guess you can say 2014 was a year of change for me. And as far as I can tell, 2015 will be a year of adjustment and settling. Excited to share another year with you guys on Jointly!

Love,

K