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

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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

We Got Baked in San Francisco

I’ve been in a mood this week. A crappy mood. Did you know bloggers could have bad moods? Yeah, this is the real shit people. In fact, the lack of bad moods in the blogosphere (like the lifestyle blogosphere) was exactly why I was hesitant to start another blog. Where’s the realness? But I made a deal with myself that I could be as real as I wanted here. So even if it doesn’t make for the most uplifting, inspiring, enjoyable content, life isn’t all cupcakes and crinkle chips, y’all.

I think my mood stems from vacation-withdrawl. It has been just a few days since mom, K, and I returned from what I now know as undeniably amazing San Francisco. K and I had never been before, and it was RESPLENDENT. Like drop dead delightful. Coming from New York and Chicago (and Mom from Cleveland), the weather played a definitive role. Seventies, and not a cloud in the sky. No fog. Just crisp, clear, freakin’ California.

We really had an incredible time. The Gautam Girls hadn’t taken a trip in quite some time (if ever?). And we’re just GOOD travel partners. We enjoy the same sorts of things – wine, tacos, ice cream. We get tired around the same time. We don’t push each other to do more. We don’t hold each other back.

We got in late Thursday night and spent Friday roaming around The Mission. Taking snaps with murals, wandering into interesting stores, drinking coffee.

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And then we walked up some mad hills to the Painted Ladies. Which were okay. But the walk itself, the fresh breeze, the sunshine, was so so pleasant. And laying on the hill after all that huffing and puffing was also pretty great.

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We had Mexican for dinner, obviously. And they had this amazing gluten-free beer from Moonlight Brewery… so I had my first ever Michelada!

On Saturday we were super touristy, and went to the Golden Gate Bridge, which is truly a sight to see. It’s more impressive than I expected. We also look super touristy. In fact, my husband, after a boozy brunch, quite eloquently told me I looked like I belonged in the FBI. In retrospect, that’s exactly what I looked like…

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We then stopped in Sausalito.

From there, Mom, K, and I explored the Marina. We walked along the water and marveled at all of the extremely fit people of San Francisco (there were SO many six-packs). We stopped at the Palace of Fine Art, which is incredible, and then had an amazing lunch with a massive pitcher of margaritas, and… TACOS. We ended the afternoon with an insane walk all the way to North Beach, the Italian District.

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We slumped home sweaty and sore, and then took some time to recharge before some drinks and a really tasty Thai dinner.

Sunday was specially for me – wine country! We drove to Sonoma, stopping briefly at Lands End where I happened upon a very serendipitous “A+A” carving, and missed Mr. P.

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Sonoma was amazing. It was almost like being transported to Italy. It was extra special to me because my best friend got engaged in Sonoma, so the whole time I had this warm, lovey dovey feel (though it could’ve also been the wine). We had chocolate wine shots, gluten free burgers, and then drove home with the windows down playing Ne-Yo and Rihanna (dream).

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And then, sadly and suddenly, it was Monday. We were all in a slump, but our uncle (who is seriously the best host), took us out of the house for a final look around town. We stopped by Union Square, got baked at Mr Holmes Bakehouse (see Instagram here hehe), and then had one final delicious meal together.

The meal was super memorable, because something BIG happened while we were there… Super big. So big that it merited this face from K.

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She’ll be sharing in our next Jointly post.

Love,

A

Better Together | Chicago Adventures

We are bumming hard today. A real case of the Monday doldrums.

It’s always so difficult to get back to the usual after an amazing weekend, especially when that amazing weekend is spent with each other, and some really close friends.

I hadn’t been to Chicago since a work research trip in the Spring, and Mr. P hadn’t been in almost a year, so we were due for a visit. Ask K… she had been on our case for months (with reason!).

We got in late Friday night (after catching up on NPR’s Serial for the entire flight, with wide-eyes and dropped jaws), and because we were desperate to eat at as many amazing Chicago restaurants as possible during our short trip, headed to The Girl and The Goat for an 11:30PM reservation. Of course, it was poppin’ and the food was exceptional, and it was totally worth the half-asleep ride home.

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Saturday was jam-packed with food, drinks, conversations, anddd more drinks. First, we went on a quest to find a gluten free donut (after I watched K, KM, and Mr. P grub on Do-Rite Donuts in the AM). We came up empty-handed, but stumbled upon Big Star, and hello… TACOS, Margaritas, and a big booth that got more and more stuffed as best friends arrived. Excellent.

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(Those peace signs are obviously meant to be ironic)

After a crazy amount of food, we walked around Wicker Park, stopping in record stores, bars, second-hand clothing shops, and more bars (we were with our college friends! No judgements, Judgies). It reminded Mr. P and I a bit of Williamsburg – except slightly more charming, slightly less gritty.

At night I went to hang out with my dear dear friend N, and her group of lovely and interesting friends. We had a delicious dinner at Travelle, in the Langham Hotel. It was seriously beautiful.

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We had so many insightful conversations – from love, to business ideas, to Ted talks. We ended our night out dancing, of course.

Finally at the very end of the night, which of course lasted another few hours – until about 5AM… I caught up with one of my college besties, L. Mr. P took to the floor for the night, giving us time to “pillow talk,” as he called it.

Overall, Saturday was one of my favorite days. With some of my favorite people.

On Sunday morning we lazed hardcore. K trekked around to find me the perfect gluten free donut (bless her, it was not as easy as you’d think), and me, Mr. P, K, and L all ate donuts on the top floor of K’s building and talked about urban planning, 3D printing, and what the world will look like in the future. But since we were so sleep deprived, and so happy, we just ended up laughing a lot. Sigh. The best of times.

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On Sunday, we met up with some family at The Publican. K and I both had the Red Wine Poached Eggs and they were pretty incredible.

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Sadly, our Sunday was cut short. I WAS GLUTENED. Beware that the Publican Mimosa is made with Orange Juice and Beer, NOT champagne. Womp womp.

So K and I just hung out, talking about life, and Jointly, and making plans for the future.

See what I mean about the Monday doldrums?

xx

A

#ambishek [wedding photos]

I got a really special birthday treat yesterday. Twelve hundred vibrant, detailed, smile and laugh-inducing wedding pictures from our photographers at Making the Moment. Mr. P and I had the best time going through them last night – remembering the details that had fallen away as more and more epic moments took their place. But moments that, in retrospect, made the weekend all the more special, and all the more ours. We have about 450 photos that we’ll be sharing on Facebook, but for those of you that prefer brevity, and just want a quick synopsis, here you are!

I know we’ve said this 100 times (and we’ll be saying it once more when you finally get our thank you cards…), but our friends and family couldn’t have made the weekend any better. Thank you.

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Love,

A

Newly Married Life

I weirdly feel like this is my debut post. It’s been a while since I’ve been an active participant in Jointly, even though I’ve certainly been around. As you all know – if you’re one of our usuals – I got married just over three weeks ago.

Our wedding was somewhat of a miracle. We did a lot of planning, coordinating, and perfecting, but the weekend itself went off magically. Maybe it was the bride in me, I was obviously riding a huge, gorgeous, life-altering emotional wave, but I think others saw and felt the magic, too. It is cheesy for me to say that it all just felt right? Like it was meant to be? Maybe it’s the newly wed in me. (And now I’m rhyming).

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After our wedding, my husband (wuuuttt?), who will from now on be referred to as Mr. P, and I spent twelve days on our honeymoon. A big chunk in Bali, and a smaller bit in Singapore. I never realized how amazing it is to have nothing to think or worry about but the person you love. But it was incredible. My work email was silent (thank you!), my personal email was ignored, and my Instagram was only updated periodically. Silent, secluded, serene perfection.

Now that I’m back, people keep asking me whether life feels different. It’s such a polarizing question, because YES, of course. I am married. My last name on all of my social networks is Pai. Alongside my life-long family, I have a new family. And my “own family.” That’s the weirdest part. One day when people say “your family,” they will mean Mr. P plus whatever presently non-existent members we’ll have by then. That’s very different.

But it also feels the same. I guess after dating for a while you get into a rhythm that can’t really be undone. And I think that’s what makes committing to someone for the rest of time less scary. I asked Mr. P whether he felt like we were married the other day, and he said “NO!” And I don’t really either. We’re still young and in love and living life like it’s just one big experiment. Plus marriage is for old people…

Hugs,

A

Honesty Hour 3

Hey guys!

So I’m thinking it’s about time to go back to the basics here on Jointly. A and I have always envisioned this as a place where we can be ourselves, honestly.

Join us in round 3 of Getting to Know the Gautams. So cue Honesty Hour!

 

K

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A

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1. What is your least favorite chore?

K – Doing dishes. For sure. Hands down. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing me wash dishes (especially if it’s not my own dish), it’s more than clear that I hate it. I’ve been told that I hold the dishes as far away from my body as possible and look utterly disgusted the whole time.

A – It’s a tie between taking out the trash (disgusting), and cleaning the fridge (potentially even more disgusting). And taking out the trash after having just cleaned your fridge… nauseating. And K, imagine those rotten food dishes… HA!

2. What is your favorite quote?

K – I have so many favorite quotes, I can’t really choose one. But recently I rediscovered a Malcom X gem that I can’t seem to get out of my head: “When ‘I’ is replaced with ‘We,’ even illness becomes wellness.”

A – Again, so many, but one has been sticking with me a lot lately. “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung

3. If you could learn anything, what would it be?

K – If I could learn anything I think I would want to learn more about design. Both interior design and web design. Both of which are so doable and I will probably dabble in after the big A & A wedding is done.

Also I’ve always wanted to take photography classes – so why not throw that in there too?

A – I’d want to learn how to write a screenplay. For some reason, before I ever dreamed of writing books, I’d write weird movie concepts. They were mostly Hindi movie musicals, but nonetheless. I’d also want to learn graphic design. Logos fascinate me.

4. What is the #1 song on your “Top 25 Most Played” list on iTunes?

K – This is going to be so humiliating, but I’ll check…Ishq Wala Love…followed by Laal Ishq. In my defense, this is because I listen to all my English music on Spotify or Soundcloud. But….okay yeah…I have no defense.

A – Oh no… Yes. Embarrassed. Mine is also “Ishq Wala Love,” but I have a feeling it’s because I stole all of K’s music and put it on my phone at some point, and IWL has just sort of stayed there. My second is “Kabira” which… is literally one of the best songs of all time.

5. What is something you’ve learned in the past month?

K – In the past few months I’ve come to learn that you can’t rely on anyone but yourself. At the end of the day people will look out for themselves, so I guess you have to do the same thing.

A – In the past month I’ve learned that the best way to be happy is to not give a shit about the things that make you unhappy. This sounds extreme, but disengaging, taking a step back and really evaluating why is really liberating. And a lot of the times, the unhappiness has nothing to do with you (it’s caused by other people, things, situations). So it’s best to do whatever you can to help make it better, and then slowly move on.

6. Would you rather read a book on an iPad/Kindle, or in print?

K – As much as I love the feel of reading an actual book, I have to admit that I’ve fallen in love with reading on my iPad. I mean…you can literally look up the meaning of a word with one tap! Sigh, technology is so amazing.

A – Hands down a million times over, a book. I love the smell of them (I know it’s weird but I don’t care!), I love folding pages over, I love making notes in the margins, I love making it mine.

7. Hike or bike?

K – Hike. I think I would love biking if I actually did it, but for the past few years I’ve been obsessed with hiking. Being able to exercise and be one with nature at the same time is a priceless experience.

A – Hike. I love being able to slowly absorb everything around me. Sit down in places that are exceptionally beautiful. Find nooks and crannies that are off the beaten (bike) path. But I have to admit, having the wind in my hair in central park on a rented bike also has its splendors.

8. What has been your biggest success up until now?

K – I think my biggest success hasn’t been one specific thing. I think it’s been a number of challenges, realizations, and successes combined to make me who I am today. Being me is my biggest success.

A – This is tough. The no brainer is my career. I have worked really really hard to get where I am, and no it may not be the most impressive place in the world, but I’m still pretty impressed with myself :).

9. What is your spirit animal?

K – I want to say a wolf, but maybe that’s just because they’re beautiful and so bad ass in Game of Thrones.

A – I had to take a quiz to answer this question. I got a wolf.  #twinsies. Followed closely by swan…….?

10. What family member do you think you are most like?

K – I think I’m a true mixture of literally everyone in my family, except for A because we’re obviously the most alike. I think when it comes to my parents though, I’m a perfect cusp. Most of my hobbies and interests come from my dad, while my passion and thought process is more like my mom’s.

A – I think I’m a mix between my paternal grandmother (Dadi), and maternal grandfather (Nanoo). I’m really emotional (surprise) and wear my heart on my sleeve, like Dadi. And I’m really introspective, like my quiet/reading/writing time, like Nanoo. But K and I are basically twins… so overarchingly I would say her.