june series: because my heart is in ohio

As mentioned in a previous post, I am going to divulge the details from my past, well since graduating high school, up until this point.  This June marks my 4th anniversary as an Ohio U alum, and therefore I feel the need to look back on all of my Junes, beginning with June 2002- when I graduated from my alma mater, Hampton High School. 

Adventure must start with running away from home.  (William Bolitho)

June 2007 : My dream of moving to Columbus, OH finally came true!  After a year of living in Pittsburgh and selling my soul to The Cheesecake Factory (with I somewhat enjoyed), I accepted an AmeriCorps position in Columbus at a non-profit organization, Children’s Hunger AllianceShout out to my CHAers! 

Since my friend, Tony, was looking for a new apartment at the time, we decided to live together.  Sidenote: Tony and I were once kinda-sorta friends with benefits back in college, but I knew that the roommate line would not be crossed.  (And it never once was, thank you very much.  Will power.)

Anyways, looking back I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I was excited about the job and the opportunity to move to Columbus, just the same.  It was my first big girl job, of course I was naive.  Working for a non-profit that helped kids sounded like a dream come true to me.  It was through this position that I was introduced to Action for Healthy Kids, as my main role was to support the infrastructure of Ohio AFHK.  I loved the role and the people who I worked with at CHA and OAFHK. 

Everything really came together for me fairly quickly, and that has a lot to do with a few friends of mine.  Kristin and Jim, the newlyweds, took me under this wing and showed me around town.  Jim also took it upon himself (with encouragement from Kristin, of course) to set me up.  After a few blind dates/ set-ups, he learned that it was not an easy task.  (Sorry, Jim.)  I had so much fun with them tha summer as we ventured to the Jazz & Rib Fest, Rascal Flatts at the Ohio State Fair (after many margaritas and more), Miranda Lambert and Toby Keith concert (courtesy of CHA), and many late nights at Nyho’s and the Arena District.

This lovely girl, Sarah, is another God-sent friend of mine that helped me adjust and enjoy my time in Columbus.  There is really not enough time or space to write about Sarah.  She’s wonderful!  Sarah brings out a different side of me which allows me to just be free.  There’s no rulebook with Sarah, and usually there is a lot of alcohol during my times with her as well.  We had a lot of fun, that’s all that matters.  (Don’t judge.)  

Moving to Columbus allotted me the opportunity to reconnect with Julie- thanks to Facebook.  Julie, my dear friend from Kent State, was fortunately living back in C-bus with her parents.  I can still remember driving to her house the Sunday afternoon of our fateful reunion!  In a way I was nervous, knowing how much I’d changed since Kent and worrying if she had too.  Of course we had changed!  We were nineteen years old back then, but luckily we were able to pick up right where we left off.  I’m just so glad I got her back in my life!

While living in Columbus gave me the opportunity to connect with college friends, I was also blessed to make many new friends as well.  The summer of 2007 was one of my favorites.  I was so happy to be back in Ohio, and Columbus really felt like home to me.     

Song of the Moment: It Feels Like Home to Me- Chantal Kreviazuk

Sidenote: If you ever have the opportunity to see Miranda Lambert in concert, GO!  Trust me. 

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June 2008: This summer was a lot different from the one proceeding it, and can be explained best by one simple word: Anxiety.  With my AmeriCorps term and lease ending, I was forced to make many decisions.  Where was I going to live?  Should I stay in Columbus?  What am I going to do for income?  Where am I going to work?  I spent a lot of my non-working hours at work, either doing work work or personal work (researching jobs, apartments, and who the heck knows what else.)   On top of all of this I should add that work was insane for me during this time, and I’ll just leave it at that.  Those who know me, know the rest. 

You know what, I’m not going to ramble on with stories from this time.  As you know I’ve been honest about my past struggles and when I say anxiety, I mean cannot sleep-cannot think straight anxiety.  It was bad, but at the time I didn’t realize just how bad it was.  My friends were worried about me and they didn’t even know the half of it- how I felt.  I felt horrible and I looked horrible.  I wasn’t me. 

My friends, April and Billie, really took care of me during that time.  I’m not used to showing my weaknesses but felt comfortable enough doing so with them.  (Thank you both.)  I’ve just always been used to run away or hiding my pain, but this time was different.  I needed someone to be there for me.  I couldn’t shut the entire world out.  My other friends showed their support but I just couldn’t let them in.  I look back and regret it, but fortunately I learned a valuable lesson from my mistakes: If you have good enough friends who want to me there for you in times of struggles and ugliness, let them. 

I’m giving you the cliff notes version to help you understand what happened next.  As I said, I wasn’t myself during this time.  I wasn’t in the right state of mind to get there again.  After spending the summer panicking and running myself down trying to figure out just how I was going to stay in Columbus (where I wanted to be), I was introduced to a new opportunity: A job opening at Action for Healthy Kids in Chicago. 

Trust me, I thought about this for a day before confiding in anyone else- and only a few people for that matter.  I knew I had to take a chance on this, and I really didn’t have a choice.  Although it wasn’t out in the open, the recession had begun and 1-year as an AmeriCorps member translated into young and inexperienced.  Therefore, I applied and decided to ride this wave as far as it would lead me.  Additionally I made my friend Matt promise that he would make sure I said ‘yes’ if offered the position.  Well, you know the rest of the story.

Chicago was never in my plans.  Maybe part of a daydream about living in a big city but nothing more.  At the time I really believed that I’d be a Columbus resident for the rest of my life.  Now, two years later, I sit here wondering when I’ll more back there or if I ever will. 

Life is unpredictable.  That’s just one of the many things I’ve learned when this adventure began two years ago.  To this day, I know that I made the right decision in moving here.  It may not be perfect, but it’s been something I’ll always hold near and dear to my heart.  If I wouldn’t have seized this opportunity, I know that I would have always regretted it, wondering ‘what if’.  Do the thing you’ll regret not doing, has become my motto and the reason I made the decision I did. 

 

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Why did I just spend so much time talking about my friends?  Because they are what Columbus was, and still is to me.  These lovely people made my year+ so memorable and they are the reason it was so difficult for me to leave.  Like Athens, Columbus isn’t just about the place but more about the people. 

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