Archive for the ‘Hampton’ Tag

let’s all sing it together: “it’s a small world after all”   Leave a comment

To sum up this past weekend best, I’ll say that, Chicago is a big city but it’s such a small world.  The whirlwind that was this past weekend- and really week- reminded me of both of these concepts.  Take today (Sunday night is when I’m writing this) for instance.  Within an hour of waking up I found myself on a bus around the city, only to trek all the way back to discover just what a small world it really is.  In my own neighborhood Starbucks, I ran into the younger brother, Brad, of my dear college friend, Jenni.  (aka “BaFaFa).  Brad was in town visiting friends for the weekend and our run-in was completely unexpected and A.MAY.ZING.  Isn’t that the best?!!!

With Laura in town this weekend for the second interview, my weekend was devoted to showing her around.  It was better than that sounds but also the culprit of my exhaustion…and the reason for my 3-hour nap this afternoon.  I woke up groggy, maybe a little refreshed, thinking where I was and, more importantly, who I was with this weekend. 

Over the course of the past 2 days, I have been with or spoken to all sorts of friends: old friends, new friends, friends-of-friends (now my friends), friends from high school, friends from college, friends from Columbus, and family. 

Here I am, in the 3rd largest city in the US, having come here 2 years ago knowing less than a handful of people, and I run into a familiar smiling face from my past at my Starbucks four blocks from my apartment.  Most of you are probably thinking, what’s so special about that?  It happens to me all the time?  Well, it used to happen to me all the time too, but not anymore.  To say I miss that is truly an understatement.

Being in this city, surrounded by unfamiliar faces- that are not always friendly- makes me feel foolish for going out of my way to avoid people at our community venues (back in Hampton) all those times.  Some day I’d give anything to just casually run into a former teacher at Target, a former teammate while running at the park or even arrange a coffee date with a former friend/classmate.  I guess it’s true that you long for the things you once had when they’re no longer available to you. 

Gosh, if my friend, Matt (MT), read this I would never hear the end of it.  Actually I spoke with him last night and some of this stuff came up, and his teasing definitely did as well.  Although I’m at the point now where I can fire back and it doesn’t bother me as much.  As I’ve shared in past posts, there was a time in my life- during college- when I decided that I wanted to break-up with my past life.  I didn’t want anything to do with Hampton.  I wanted a change.  I wanted to change.  I regret that time in my life and now realize that it was foolish of me; however, it is once again proof that you live & learn.

It’s funny how things change.  I’m not sure if I’m laughing about it, but I think the way my life has gone, thus far, I definitely see the irony.  For instance, as a teenager I used to daydream of living in NYC…but realistically never thought I’d end up there.  At that time I figured I’d be in Pittsburgh, dating my latest crush, and being friends with the same friends- that are now no longer my friends.  In college I knew I’d never go back to Pittsburgh and was destined to live in (Columbus,) Ohio for the rest of my life.  Then Chicago came and the struggle has finally somewhat seized, and while I miss my family (in Pgh) and friends (mostly back in Ohio), I’m actually realizing how great it is to be in Chicago and have visiting guests and random run-ins with my Ohio folk in Starbucks.

Is staying here in Chicago actually my solution for having the balance of my past and the future I desire? 

I do still think about moving back to Columbus, Ohio, wondering what it would be like.  I know that after living here that it would be very, very different, but would I like it?  Would I fit in?  I could ask these questions again and again, leading myself down the never-ending road of frustration, but why bother? 

I’m finally understanding that life isn’t about the minute-by-minute plans nor the timelines.  There’s no rule book on how to do things, and no penalty if you don’t accomplish those societal standard checklist items by a certain age or at all.  Life is about the little things; the precious moments; the unexpected joys.  It’s about follow your passions and acting spontaneously in the moment.  It’s about choosing to go on a weekend roadtrip to your college town with friends.  Or deciding to enroll in grad school to pursue the job that you know you’re meant to do.  It’s about falling in love at first sight with a guy you never thought was ‘your type’ and enjoying those butterflies that you get when he’s around.  It’s about running into an old friend in a big city and having a smile on your face the next day, realizing just how wonderful that unexpected moment truly was.

It may be a small world (after all), but it’s a life full of many opportunities.

unsent love letter mix tape: track 8   Leave a comment

The post I wrote on Sunday, October 10th will explain the ideas behind the Unsent Love Letter Mix Tape series, and if it still doesn’t make sense to you, well then, at least it makes sense to me.  The writer.  The blogger.  The girl behind the computer.  Call me what you will but these are my letters.  Love Letters.  Some will be traditional love letters and some will be love letters of another sort.  These are my love letters to those that I love…or once loved…or will one day love.  Let me point out that my plan is not to send these letters, but to write them as though I was sending them. 

Track 8 is written to the boys of my past.  From first crushes, to first kisses, to first love, first heartbreak…but it’s not just about the firsts either.  All of them.  Each and every one has made an impact on me, contributing more than I’m even conscious of, and therefore, are the addressee of this letter. 

Where is this coming from?  Last night I had a dream about the boy I had my first kiss with in 7th grade.  Ironically it’s not my first random dream about him, and probably not my last.  At first I found it odd especially since my only connection to him since high school is Facebook (as of recent), but then I realized that our dreams are not confined to a timeline.  Our dreams hold the stories of who we were and who we aspire to be, and therefore, who we are.  So now, awake the conscious, I realize that many boys have played a role in who I am today and coincidentally who I’ll be for all my tomorrows.  Mistakenly we don’t always recognize nor give credit to all that are deserving, not seeing that those that love(d) us and that we love(d)- unrequited too- truly contributed to our development as well.  So here is my love letter to all those boys- well a few boys who shall remain nameless.

 
 
 
   

To Whomever This May Concern,

I hope this letter finds you well.  I’m going to guess that you didn’t expect to hear from me having been awhile since we last saw one another.  To be honest, I’m a bit surprised that I am writing to you but thought it was time.  Let me explain.

After spending a weekend talking about boys, life, and more boys with another single girl friend of mine, I’ve taken some time to digest my past and how I’ve gotten to where I am today- and not just literally but why I am the way I am.  Deep, right?  Trust me, you have no idea how much thinking I do these days. 

If you must know, I’m single and really haven’t had much any luck in the categories of boyfriends, love, and anything that may come in between.  Some of you are surely in disbelief having known me back in the day when I was a boyfriend magnet…in middle school and early high school.  I must have used up all of my boyfriend cards on those 1-2 week relationships I ran through the halls of HMS and HHS.  Since then, the ‘boyfriend’ title actually hasn’t been used.  Sure there are a very ‘it’s complicated’s, ‘hook-ups’, and ‘we’re talking’s in my biography, but never anything more.  Yep.  Welcome to my life.

And I’m rambling here.  A lot.  Sorry about that, I guess I’m just not sure what to say to you and perhaps more nervous than I thought I’d be. 

Why am I writing to you?  To be honest, I am hoping that you can help me.  Maybe you’re not able to and/or not willing, but I at least want to try.  I do not feel like there’s any bad blood between us- from my perspective there is not, but perhaps it’s not fair for me to assume that you don’t.  Do you?  I know we were young when we knew one another, but I hope that I didn’t give you a reason not to like me.  Did I?

Again, I ramble.  Okay, I’m a little nervous about asking my question(s) because I’m not sure what your response will be. 

What was I like when we were…together…or whatever we were?  I don’t mean, Was I nice/funny/cool/popular?  Instead I’m asking, what was I like as your girlfriend?  As the girl you were talking to?  As the girl you made out with?  Please be honest with me.  I need to know.

Did you like me?  If it helps at all, I liked you too.  Without coming across as crazy- which you may or may not think I am already- despite my probable feelings for you, I most likely ran away.  Did I run away?  (I’m sure I did.)

I don’t want to run away anymore.  There, I said it.  I could have saved both of us a lot of time if I would have started this letter with “Hi.  How are you?  I don’t want to run away anymore and I think you can help me change that.”  But I guess I wanted to elaborate it so this last part makes more sense.

You know how people say, “It’s not you, it’s me.”  Well it really was me, not you.  Believe me when I say that.  See, for some reason I have this natural-born tendency to run away.  I’ve done it since middle and now, after all these years, I don’t even recognize that I’m doing it…until it’s too late. 

I’m not writing this to get you back.  That is certainly not my intention.  But instead I’m asking you, someone who once knew me and/or genuinely cared for me, to tell me straight how I am.  Flaws and all.  I really want to change.  I want to fall in love.  I want to let someone love me. 

People continuously ask me “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” or make the comment “I cannot believe you don’t have a boyfriend”.  The excuses get old and soon they just sounds like lies to me.  I don’t want to lie anymore.  I don’t want to run away. 

Even if you do not respond, I want to thank you for taking the time to listen to my ramblings.  You know, you’re still helping me even if you don’t reply with a laundry list of my flaws and irrational behaviors because I was able to open up to you here.  So thank you.

Lastly, if by any chance I hurt you through my insecurities and actions, please accept my sincere apologies.  Again it wasn’t you, it was definitely me.

Take care.

Kristen

Song of the Moment: Back to December by Taylor Swift

So this is me swallowing my pride standing in front of you saying I’m sorry for that night

good morning, hampton. how have you been?   Leave a comment

This morning the stars aligned for me as I was appreciative of the opportunity to see a friend from the past…and then another.  It was the perfect way to start off my day back in Hampton (Pittsburgh, PA)-my hometown.  Within ten minutes I had reconnected with two important people from my life back in Hampton.  Two people who I haven’t seen in 6 and 8 years, respectively.

The first was Kellen, a friend since middle school, who is the hardest working person I know and a very proud & excited husband and expecting father!  Seeing him this way made me so happy and proud of the person he’s become.  Talking to him I realized just how much we’ve both grown.  While I can still talk to him like I just saw him at a basketball game last night, the topics of conversation reveal that we’re not in high school anymore.  Still it was nice to connect with an old friend and remember that some things never change.

Moments after, my mom spotted one of my favorite people- Hampton’s athletic trainer, Lynn.  As I walked over to hear I was worried that she would remember me, but the big smile of recognition on her face said otherwise.  Words cannot express how great it felt to see her!  Lynn was not only a confidante and supporter for me as an athlete, but she was truly a dear friend of mine and helped me deal with the daily struggles of being a teenager at Hampton High School.  I knew I missed her and think about her quite often, but it wasn’t until today that I fully realize how special she is to me.  Lynn is truly someone who was meant to be a part of my life and one that I’ll never forget!

Every time I come back home, which isn’t too often now that I’m living in Chicago, I fight off contradicting thoughts and daydreams: Could I live here again?  I will never live here again?  What if I live here again; what would it be like? 

I can already tell that the next week is going to be a bit of an emotional roller coaster with many trips down memory lane…at least I’ll be at the beach!

hope you remember me when you’re homesick and need a change   2 comments

We can all name someone who seems to know everyone.  Amanda (Porter) Carlyle is one of those people.  Every time I was with that girl we would constantly run into people that she knew: A friend from high school, English class, or bar the night before.  At first I found myself envious of her for knowing so many people in our college town, but then one day I had the best epiphany of my life: I’d rather have good friends than hundreds of friends.  Years later I stand by this thought as I wander the streets, mosey around airports, and zone-out on trains, passing possible friend after friend, as well as crazy after crazy.  Touché though since you never know where and when you’ll be your soulmate… or your best friend. 

For most of my life I’ve been blessed with good friends and commonly find myself surrounded with a fair share of friends (aka acquaintances) too.  Actually in high school I was a version of the girl who knew everyone.  A social butterfly.  Over the years many of those friends have faded from my daily life, but they appear in my thoughts ever now and then- certainly some more than others..  A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the never-disappearing impact that friendships/ past relationships have on us.  We’ll call it Fingerprints and you can click on that link to access the post.  I may sound like I’m contradicting myself based on what I said in that post, but I want to elaborate more on the relevance of these friends, which we once considered friends. 

One of the simplest pleasures in life has to be reconnecting with an old friend.  There’s just such a pure joy that seeps through your veins that warms your heart to its capacity after receiving an unexpected call or, in today’s world, that always-appreciated Facebook message.   You soon finding that you’re smiling for no apparent reason with that ‘high on life’ feeling.  You’re at peace in the moment, while venturing down memory lane.  Soon your past doesn’t seem so long ago and you’re surprise how much you remember about that fifteen year old that you once were.  Any anxieties have been extinguished and everything appears so clearly.  You feel whole…again.

Why is that so?  How is it that someone who you haven’t seen or heard from in years can perk you up and make your bad day that much better?

We’ve all heard it before…if you love something set it free and if it comes back to you then it’s meant to beI’m not sure if I see any truth in this not, and honestly based on my own experiences I have to admit that I wouldn’t let anyone go if I had a say in the matter.  I don’t know.  My Magic 8 ball of a brain says to Ask again later.  But I will say that it appears that sometimes you do have to lose someone to realize how much they mean(t) to you.  On the journey of our lives, friends come and (unfortunately) friendships fade as time goes on.  We find ourselves replacing those who knew us so well in the past with news faces guiding us towards our future.  Those peers that you literally grew up with will never truly know you upon graduation day, and those friends that you make afterwards are your bridesmaids, vacation buddies, and children’s godparents.   

So what role do our former BFFs and friends play in our current lives?  Afterall they are part of our journey and therefore play a far more significant role than we would have ever gave them credit for during the days of our innocence and naiveté.  I could tell you a laundry list of things that my friends from the past have taught and how I look back with appreciation on how they’ve helped me in my personal growth. 

When I have the opportunity to go home, with doesn’t happen to often anymore since I’m not longer a 3.5 hour drive away  through Ohio & West Virginia, I hardly ever end up seeing any of my friends.  Every once in a while I’ll run into a friend at Walmart or perhaps see a friend when walking around our alma mater with my mom.  There are friends that I’ll never see again, but I’ll always see them as friends. 

I hope you remember me when you’re homesick and need a change.  There are so many people from my past that I think about to help me get through those rough days when I just need to remember where I came from.  I’m sure you know those days?  Or when someone asks me where I grew up and I responded, “Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania”… I immediately think of friends and those memories in the halls of Hampton High.  And when I tell people who I lived in Ohio for college and afterwards, I think of my walks through Athens, nights on Court Street, and many adventures in C-bus.  

And dare I ask, have my fingerprints left a lasting impression on you to think of me when you’re homesick and need a change?  Sorry, I had to ask.

Song of the Moment: Somewhere Out There by Our Lady Peace

the past is only a memory away   2 comments

There’s a big world out there. Bigger than prom, bigger than high school, and it won’t matter if you were the prom queen or the quarterback of the football team or the biggest nerd.  Find out who you are and try not to be afraid of it.    (Drew Barrymore)

The irony that is my life is the fact that I didn’t want to graduate from high school nor did I even want to go to college.  In fact I remember a Sunday morning when I had a meltdown, telling my parents that “college just wasn’t for me”.  This was after the fact that I reconsidered my college choice, deciding to forgo my previous agreement to attend OU and instead embark on a freshman year at Kent State, so just imagine how frustrated they were with me.  Anyways, this post isn’t about that and we all know now that I went to Kent and then transferred to OU.  Gosh, I couldn’t imagine what life would be like if I really didn’t go to college.  Thanks, Mom & Dad!

Whether you know me personally or as a blogger, you probably know that I neither live in my hometown nor do I have much of a life there anymore.  However, once upon a (very long) time, I most certainly did and for that reason I have never fully abandoned my adolescent past.  There are too many wonderful people who I met through those experiences and too many lessons learned that I couldn’t erase if I tried…and boy did I try at times.  But I could never fully let go of the past.  The truth of the matter is that I’ll never forget where I came from.  Even though I don’t see myself ever moving back there- to Pittsburgh nor Hampton- I still do consider it my hometown.  A large chunk of my past is there, as well as my parents & brother and therefore, it’s always going to be home to me.  Unfortunately it’s just not where I’m meant to be.   

My lovely hometown of Hampton made national news today for two reasons.  For one, Taylor Lautner’s new movie, Abduction, is filming at my high school,  and two, Hampton Township was recognized as one of Top Ten Best Towns for FamiliesHere’s one big SERIOUSLY? for both of these stories.

Today I was definitely traveling down memory lane.  I felt like the girl from Hampton…who now lives in Chicago.  Actually today made me realize how much I’ve grown and while I’m still the girl from Hampton, I’m also the girl who left Hampton…went to Kent State…transferred to OU…graduated college…moved back in with her parents….then moved to Columbus…and eventually ended up in Chicago.  Because of all of this, I will never again be just the same girl I was when I only had “girl from Hampton” on my resume. We are the product of our experiences: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  In my case, I have been greatly impacted by all of the places that I’ve been since they let me out of “The Bubble” after graduation.  (Note: We used to call Hampton “The Bubble”.  Trust me, it’s fitting.)

I’m not really sure what I want to say from here, so maybe it’s time to call it a night instead.  First though, I will say that it was nice to journey back to Hampton today.  As I said in a previous post, Facebook is responsible for taking me back to my past every now and then, but today I truly felt like a version of that Hampton girl today.  And you know what…I kinda liked it. 

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Song of the Moment: The House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert 

happiness: a right or a privilege?   Leave a comment

I can pinpoint three times in my life where I was truly happy.  The first was in 7th grade, and other than being on successful basketball and soccer teams; having hot, popular boyfriends; and enjoying the company of a surplus of good friends- or so I thought at that time- I’m not really sure what else was so wonderful about that time in my life.  But when I look back on that time, I know I was happy.

The second time in my life was when I began my sophomore year of college, or better put, my first year at OU.  Damn was I a happy girl!  A beautiful college campus, an abundance of new friends, attention from boys, and most importantly, I had the chance to start fresh.  I think you all know the rest of that story, so I’ll leave it at that.

The third time was within the first few months of living in Columbus, which can probably be calculated to fall 2007.  Yep, Buckeye season in C-bus, so how could you not be happy living in the middle of that?  Reconnecting with friends, making new ones, loving my job, and partying on the weekends was everything I always imagined it being- and much more. 

But unfortunately, each of these times in my life came to an end.  To be honest, I always knew that the bliss of Columbus would but wasn’t sure how.  I know write about this from my apartment in Chicago, over a year and a half after leaving my beloved Ohio for The Windy City.  While there have been days and even weeks of positive moments, most occurring during my days visiting friends in back in O-H-I-O or during their visits here, I write now admitting that I am not happy.  I say it again, this just isn’t me.

Earlier today I was laying out on my rooftop deck (I know, I’m lucky) and this thought came to me: Why is my happiness always temporary?  I’m not throwing a pity party here at all, but rather I find myself wondering why this is so? And what can I do to change that?  On Friday before spinning, I gave Julie a much-needed phone call.  I miss her so much!  And it was so nice to hear that she misses me too!  But even knowing that, it doesn’t make it any easier. 

Through our I miss you’s and general catching up, Julie said what she always tells me, “I can never keep up with all of your friends.  You know so many people.” 

My response, “Yeah, but they’re all back in Pittsburgh and Ohio.  I hardly know anyone here.” 

“I cannot understand how that is so,” Julie replied.

Neither can I, Juls.  Neither can I.  As I said to her, Chicago is just a whole different ballgame and I’m a whole different person- not myself at all.  Or at least I’m not myself now…but can I change that?  These past few weeks I’ve been filling my schedule with volunteer opportunities hoping that I can find myself again AND do things that are important to me.  But those are just temporary periods of happiness for me in the big city.  Everything else has me feeling like donutholes…empty.  (I learned that term on So You Think You Can Dance.)

I have another day of Make-A-Wish volunteering at the Children’s Hospital downtown ahead of me tomorrow, and on top of that, I received my first Wish Granting assignment and my Child Life hospital volunteer is this week too.  Throw in a few spin classes, all to be followed by a weekend visit by my parents and I’d be shocked if all of these don’t heighten my mood.  However, will it only be a temporary fix once again?

happy birthday, stef!   2 comments

Happy Birthday to you, Stef!! 

Yesterday was my dear friend/ Chicago sanity’s birthday!!  Due to unforseen issues with my laptop’s charger, yet again, I wasn’t able to give her the post she so graciously deserves.  But instead, I was able to provide her with a lovely, filling dinner at Wilde’s and deliciousness at Paciugo for gelato.  Both deserve an A.MAY.ZING.

I’ve shared my love for Wilde’s before (mmm…sweet potato fries, and the Mac & Cheese is a must as well) and will continue to do so, but let me tell you how great Paciugo is!  Thank goodness Stef was there to help me through it, and the 6 samples that I had before many my choice of Soy-Based Green Tea (I know, I know…but it was wonderful) and Hazelnut (I think.)  Check out all of these flavors!! 

Let me tell you a little bit about Stef (whose birthday is June 21st).  I’ve known Stef since we were kids- literally.  We both grew up in Hampton (Pittsburgh, PA) and I recall photos of us, with our siblings, from birthday parties and preschool floating around the photo albums in my parents’ house.  Ironically we both attended Kent State at the same time as well, although she was a grade above me and stayed to graduate from there, as I left for OU (Oh Yeah).  And then, as fate would have it, we both ended up here in Chicago and eventually reconnected after my mom ran into Stef back in Hampton and we realized that it was finally time for us to meet up in this crazy city of ours…and the rest is history. 

Stef shared this quote with me a few weeks ago and, as she said, it perfectly explains how our friendship was resurrected in Chicago:   Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one’. (C.S. Lewis)  It’s no secret here that Chicago hasn’t been a cup of tea for me; and unfortunately the same goes for Stef as well.  However, in a way, we are comforted knowing that 1) we are not the only one, and 2) that we have the other to lean on.   Being a single twentysomething in the city of Chicago is one commonality that will not bonds us together now, while we continue to survive this city, but for as long as she’ll call me a friend. 

I plan on writing more about Stef in many future posts so I’ll leave it at this for now.  Happy (belated) birthday, Stef!  I hope that this is the best year of your life, and I really do promise to do my part in ensuring that!  In a weird way, I hope we both stay stuck in Chicago for a little bit longer because now I cannot imagine being here without you!  Or perhaps we’ll both end up in a new city.  Thanks for everything.  Here’s to many more days/nights with you!

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We are what we believe we are. (C. S. Lewis)