(Saturday, August 21) Hello, from Stone Harbor, New Jersey. Yes, that’s right. I’m in New Jersey. Two days ago I wrote from Chicago, and last night from Pittsburgh. And on the third day, she writes from New Jersey- and she is very tired. She’s so tired that she just turned down an offer to spend some quality time with her brother on the fishing docks. Oh well, tomorrow is another day. Another day at the beach! Or if the weather doesn’t cooperate then at least it’s still vacation.
My parents, brother, and I arrived this afternoon to our destination of serenity and relaxation: Stone Harbor, New Jersey. First let me say that I have never watched Jersey Shore, nor do I plan on doing so. But yes, I am at the Jersey Shore for the next week but not the Jersey Shore that is shown in that show (from what I’ve heard at least). Stone Harbor is a very quaint, family-friendly beach town that is the further thing from Chicago, and therefore, exactly the right place for me right now.
The past two days have felt so much longer than the 24 hours that is alloted for a day. Yesterday felt fairly long as I mixed a full work day in with some reminiscing (of my past life in Hampton) and family bonding- not to mention a two-hour work and fun at Walmart and Target with my brother. But as long as yesterday felt, and as tired as I was when I finally let my head hit the pillow, today tops that. Today not only began in my parents’ house in Pittsburgh, but it included a 7.5 hour drive to New Jersey, 1.5 hour bike ride, and errands. So yes, I am tired, and not only physically tired, I’m mentally tired…but what else is new?
A few things have stuck in my mind the past few days, and two of them are things that people have said to me. The first was from Lynn. When we were talking to her at the soccer fields on Thursday morning, she said very genuinely, “We always knew you’d be successful. Didn’t we?” (Posing the understood question to my mom, who didn’t respond- but that’s fine.) Lynn is such a sweetheart and coming from her, someone I greatly admire, well it’s truly an honor- whether it’s true or not.
The second line came from my dad, 2-3 beers in, as we sat by the fire pit last night. During a Seinfeld-like discussion about everything and nothing at all, he responded to one of my cracks about not being able to see myself living in Hampton anymore: “Kristen, it’s really not that bad here. I don’t know why you think that way.” Neither do I…anymore. Afterall Hampton was voted the 2nd best place (in the country) to raise a family, so there has to be some good things about it, right?
(Sunday, August 22) I’m going to be 27 years olds in a few weeks, which is ironic because people tend to be surprised after mistaking me for being in school- college (mostly) or high school (yes, sometimes). For the last couple of years 27 has been a milestone age for me. Not one that came with stress/panic nor that “I’m so old!” feeling, but rather I’ve viewed it as an age where I’d like to feel more confident and settled in my life, from where I’m standing. If I feel the way I do, right now, in a couple of weeks then I’m not exactly where I want to be but I’m further than I was a year ago…and the year before that…and so on.
I guess it’s not the way you always planned it. They say to always follow your heart; that your heart will guide you along the way. I believe that, but sometimes I have a hard time understanding what my heart is telling me to do. Like right now, for instance. Here I am at the beach with my family and all I can think of doing is…nothing. Nothing but morning walks with my mom, riding bikes with my brother, playing cornhole with my dad, and just enjoy the break from Chi-town and the daily stresses of life away from this quaint little beach town. Maybe this is what my heart is telling me to do?
Last year during this vacation in Stone Harbor is when I had my epiphany about pursuing the Child Life career path. Is it wrong to want the same thing to happen this time? Maybe not another epiphany but at least some reassurance.
I sit here writing, completely worry-free…until I think about going back to Chicago in a week. Here I can focus on enjoying time with my family. There’s no pressure to get leave by a certain time nor feel anxious waiting for a train/bus to take my to my destination. I don’t have anxiety attacks over the mere thought of going to work and I don’t have to stress about waking up at 5 am and being gone until 9 pm.
Here I can wake up and enjoy a walk & talk about everything and nothing at all with my mom. Here I can shoot the shit with my dad and listen to his stories from the fun he used to have here with his friends when he was my age. Here I can go on a bike ride for 2 hours with my brother in the rain and know that I’ll never forget that experience. Here I can walk along the beach and just think about the past, the present, and the future. Here I can tell a little girl how cute her sandals (and they really were!) and asked another group of kids if there mini donuts from the farmer’s market were as good as they smelled.
Here I don’t have to think about turning twenty-seven in 2.5 weeks, because here I can be ageless and free. Here I can just be ‘me’ and love every moment of it.
The title of this post, as well as within the post, come from lyrics of the song From Where I’m Standing by Schuyler Fisk.