Archive for the ‘Mike Larsen’ Tag

weekend shenanigans with addie, mitch, lana, jordan & kendall   Leave a comment

One of my favorite things about living in Chicago is that friends are always anxious to stop by and play for a weekend.  This weekend I hosted four of my OU besties: Ashley, Mike, Libby, and Jay (pictured left to right).  Note: They may be referred to as Addie, Mitch, Lana & Jordan- which became their (bar) identities to increase this weekend’s antics. As for me, I may have introduced myself as Kendall a half-dozen times (or more). Yes, ladies and gentlemen. These four, along with some of my other Chicago friends, certainly partook in some shenanigans this weekend.  To put it best, they’ll all be back again (asap) if not moving here after a weekend that can only be described as A*MAY*ZING.

I had a blast with my friends this weekend and certainly sad to see them leave this morning. I’m so glad to be able to provide some good old-fashioned fun and more memories from the ones we’ve created since our college days in Athens.

Song of the Moment: Home by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros & Cover by Father and Adorable Daughter

regrets and mistakes, they’re memories made. who would have known how bittersweet this would taste.   17 comments

I woke up thinking about him the other morning.  “Him” being that boy that I used to wake up every morning thinking about, not to mention fall asleep thinking about and waking in the middle of the night, tossing and turning, trying not to think about him.  From what I remember, he appeared in my dream and I believe his girlfriend did too. 

I’m happy to report that I was okay.  I really was, and still am.  I can’t say the same things for all those other mornings (and nights) in the past, but this time I was perfectly okay.

As I shared with you yesterday I’ve been listening to Someone Like You by Adele; in fact I cannot stop listening to this song.  (It’s on right now as I’m typing.)  This song is not only beautiful, but Adele sings it with such power & soul that I find empowering…especially for anyone that has ever been the victim of love & heartbreak.

So my friend & former roommate, Mike, used to tell me that I listen to ‘sad white people music’, and I won’t even bother wasting time trying to defend myself because Someone Like You would certainly fall into his category.  However, as I continue to listen to this song and notice the direct tie to my own experience with the first real love of mine, I’m not feeling any form of sadness.  Knowing that I could look him & his girlfriend in the eyes right now and say, “I wish nothing but the best for you” makes all the pain- as excruciating at it was at times- worth it.  Why? 

Adele found the right words to explain how I view the respective feelings on my early twenties: Regrets and mistakes, they’re memories made.  Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste. 

Bittersweet.  When we look back on the past and see where we are today, noting the lessons that we’ve learned along the journey, one can only accurately describe it as ‘bittersweet’.  So many things in life prove to be bittersweet….but we don’t tend to realize the ‘sweet’ until we can accept and embrace all the ‘bitter’ components that guide us along our way.  Sometimes Most times that takes a lot of time, and confusion too.  I’m not ashamed of my mistakes nor the memory full of regrets that once plagued my mind.  They happened.  They’re all in the past…and I’m no longer there dwelling in those choices and missteps.  I’ve accepted each and everyone since instance of my life that I might have once classified as ‘bitter’ because now I know that were Blessings in Disguise.  I’ve embraced that each past love & (coincidential) heartbreak was a stepping stone in the grand scheme of this Little Life of Mine.  I may have no idea what’s next nor where I’m truly head, but I’m actually okay with that.  Maybe not every second of every day, but I’m okay.  And even more so, I’m okay if I ended up making more mistakes along my journey; however, I’m determined to live my life without any regrets.

Now I’m no expert on love, but I really did love him.  You know why I know this to be truth?  Because with every ounce of me, I want him to be happy.  His happiness is what matters to me even though I’m not the one that he’s chosen to make him happy.  This may sound ridiculous to some of you and truthfully it would have sounded such to me up until a year ago; however, life has taught me so many lessons and can only be understood by truly loving another. 

For most (if not all) of my 7-year crush/love/infatuation with that boy, I thought that I was C.R.A.Z.Y.  I felt foolish and devastatingly sad, and the photos from a large portion of those days is evidence (to me, especially) that I just wasn’t quite myself.  Those days painted me with regrets and heartache but I can see how bittersweet they really were.  “Bitter” because of the pain and anguish I felt- literally- and “Sweet” because of the experience and understanding that was gained.

May I add something else here before ending this post?  (Thank you.)  As I acknowledged, I have loved before. But this love I experienced was filled with a lot of hurt- before the acceptance & appreciation set in.  See, this love may (or may not have been) one-sided, and therefore, there’s  a lot about love that I fail to understand.  For instance, I don’t know if I whole-heartedly believe that Sometimes it Last in Love…at least for me.  This is my new ‘bitter’ that is looking for his ‘sweet’.  Like all bittersweet recognitions, only time will tell.

friends: is there such a thing as having too many?   Leave a comment

Last night while finishing my post, preparing my grad program application, and watching my daily fix of Ellen, I dodged text after text from my dear friend, Mike.  I love him, I really do…but he was driving me a little crazy with all the texting.  Now I really do enjoy helping my boys out when it comes to the World of Girls, but what I’ve learned from my years of experience is that you can only do so much.  But I gave him as much as I could give, and will continue to do so, but as I told him, “The hard part is over. This is the chance you’ve been waiting for. Just be yourself.”

After sending that text I’m pretty sure I said this out loud, and if not then it was ‘said’ very loudly in my head: I feel like I’m in a relationship.  Many relationships. 

Let me rewind and share that this thought has crossed my mind many times, and especially yesterday after receiving another text from a different friend: So the other day I realized how distant our friendship is and by distant I mean not close.  Of course I was taken back and responded as I saw appropriate, but the carefree version of me that I tend to be these days literally shook it off.  After all, what else can I do?  She’s a great friend to me and I’ve always thought I was to her.  Again, what else can I do? 

One of my biggest fears with moving to Chicago was that I was going to lose all of my friends.  This thought was actually the main reason that I almost changed my mind after accepting the position.  But fortunately my A*MAY*ZING friends proved me wrong, and in fact many of my friendships have grown even stronger these past few years. 

The truth is that, like romantic relationships, you have to figure out what works for both of you.  For me, personally, email proves to be the best way for me to keep in touch with people.  In fact, most of the friendships that have proven the test of time & distance are the ones that I email with regularly/periodically…or mail a Pen Pal book back-and-forth to Ohio.  But perhaps that doesn’t work for everyone else.  Maybe I have to reevaluate and think about how I can rebuild my friendship with Jen? 

In the utmost humble way of putting it, I have a lot of friends.  I do.  I feel very blessed to have the friends that I do and fortunate that there are so many that know me well enough and still put up with me.  I’ve had a lot of ‘friends’ in my day, but right now I can honestly say that those friends that are in my life (now) are the very best I’ve ever had.  I am the Lucky One.  However, this lucky girl is beginning to see that she is spreading herself to thin.  While agreeing with quality over quantity, I feel like I’m giving less of myself to each friend instead of being able to give much more to every one of them.  Unfortunately I just don’t know how to change this. 

Okay, lunch break over.  Thanks for letting me clear this off my chest.  If you are one of my dear friends reading this, then know that I will continue to spoil you rotten, drop everything at any time to be there for you, continue to take overnight bus trips to visit you, and always make sure that you know how appreciative I am to have you in my life.

even a kiss on new year’s eve isn’t ‘just a kiss’.   4 comments

Some people say that “it’s just a kiss”, and as you get older you’ll mostly hear “it’s only sex” and/or “marriage is just a piece of paper“.  Do me a favor: Don’t believe these things.  If ‘a kiss is just a kiss’, then why do you sometimes find yourself with weak knees and butterflies in your stomach?  Explain that, cynics! 

On our early morning car ride to Columbus last week, Stef and I found ourselves in a discussion that I’m going to refer to as, Some Girls Do and Some Girls Don’t.  Simply put, we were discussing those girls that 1) always seem to have “met the love of my life” and 2) act so carelessly when it comes to boys, relationships, and everything in between.  Those are the ones that act like a “kiss is just a kiss”but what about the rest of us?  What about the girls that actually care enough to embrace that first kiss and take pride in calling him “my boyfriend”? 

And to be fair, because after all boys have feelings too (!), what about the boys that find themselves asking their girl friends for advice on their latest crush and taking weeks to finally ask the question, “Will you go out with me?”  Those guys are out there, and in fact, I know some of them. 

But this post is about one specific boy.  A boy who has liked a girl for a very long time.  A boy who has been very patient with this girl and pretty much accepted that the girl will never feel the same about him.  But this same boy recently experienced something special with this girl.  On New Year’s Eve, of all nights.  Yep, they shared a kiss.  After midnight.  And from what I’ve been told, there was a little make out session that went on too.  Whether or not a third-party (named Alcohol) truly placed a role in this event for a little ménage à trois is yet to be determined, but no matter, New Year’s Eve or not, this incident definitely deserves an explanation for the sake of two friends that shared their first kiss.  Like I believe, a kiss isn’t ‘just a kiss”.

Once upon a time…in my early Post-College days, I let myself believe that a kiss was only a kiss.  I was Heartbroken. Lonely. Confused.  I didn’t know myself well enough to understand this too shall pass.  I fell into the trap and soon, while I hate to admit it, I let myself mistakenly believe that I deserved to be in a “relationship” categorized as none other than, “Friends with Benefits“.  And as the story goes… I fell victim to the misconception that “it’s just sex“.  But I learned my lesson.  Many lessons.  And yes, I do regret some of the decisions my sad heart allowed me to make, but I am also grateful to have learned these lessons before making them again.  

And while I cannot say the same for my friends, I proudly admit that my lips were sealed on New Year’s Eve.  Other than the guys I was with, I could not tell you what a single guy in the bar looked like.  So, why would I kiss someone just to kiss someone?  Whether it’s New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, or any other ordinary day for that matter, why kiss for the sake of just kissing?   Been there, done that.  Quite frankly, the truth of the matters is, there’s nothing better than that first kiss with someone you truly like.  Someone that gives you butterflies.  Someone that makes your knees go weak when he says, “I really like you.”  Someone who makes you feel like you’re the only ones there in a crowded room. Someone who you know is worth waiting for.  Someone who deserves you, as much as you deserve him.  I know it’s tough, but I promise you that it’s always worth the wait.  Just Be Patient. 

While I’m extremely bias, I end this post still hoping that the kiss my friends’ shared was more than ‘just a kiss’, but only time will tell.

so many people have come and gone, their faces fade as the years go by. yet i still recall as i wander on, it’s more than a feeling.   2 comments

No matter where life takes me and what’s going on in the little world of K, I find I can always close my eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine my beloved college days in Athens as though it was just yesterday.  For those few moments I am at peace.  Lost in the memories of my past, I feel like I’m home.  I am me. Unfortunately even the best daydreams must end, just as my college days did.  However, last weekend I was able t0 (re)live those days in Athens.  I was fortunate to be able to open my eyes and literally see the memories right in front of me.  I was home.

Last weekend I traveled back to my college town for the wedding of my friends, Bill and Renee; back to the place where they meant and their love began.  A wedding in Athens…what an A.MAY.ZING. affair.  Joining me were my friends/ former OU alums, Mike (my date), Jay, Ashley, Ryan, Meghann, and Steve (aka Rook or Snookie).  I’ve mentioned some of these friends before, but just to fill you in on my friends, this was part of my Senior Year Crew.  Jay and Mike were my roommates; Ryan, Meghann (Ryan’s wife), Steve, and Bill lived across the hall; and Ashley lived downstairs.  Yes, it was like Friends.

After taking the overnight Megabus on Thurdsay, I arrived in Columbus and headed straight to Starbucks to work for a few hours (as noted in a former post).  Lucky me, I was able to spend some time with my Columbus friends during the day.  Jen (Morel) met me for lunch at North Market, and then Elise (friend and former colleague at Children’s Hunger Alliance) stopped by for a chat session.  Before I knew it, the infamous Joe Zummo was strutting his stuff into ‘bucks looking as snazzy as ever.  With my 40 hours clocked in, Joe, Elise and I decided on an impromptu Happy Hour on the patio of Frog Bear & Wild Boar in the Arena District (my former stomping grounds when I lived in C-bus).  Best idea ever!  It wasn’t long after that Ashley, Jay, and Mike arrived to take me back to Athens.  ♥  Because of the craziness that my life has been lately, and all of the other travel, it really didn’t hit me that I was really going back to OU.  But as I drove with my friends, on Interstate 33, through Lancaster… it hit me.  I really was going home. 

Since I thought that I was going to write this a week ago, the plan was to hash out all of the details and the (blurry) memories from our nights out on Court Street.  This is us.  Mostly, the Ohio University Class of 2006.  Four years ago we spent our last night of college together, up on Court Street.  Four years later, we reunited again for more memories on OU alums’ favorite street.  Look at us.  Some of them I haven’t seen in 2-3 years, but could you really tell from this photo?  That’s what I love about my friends.  No time nor distance will ever ruin the bond between my friends and me, and this is why I continuously say that I am blessed. 

Friday Night: (From Left to Right: Jay, Mike, Ryan, Meghann, Me, Steve (aka Rook), and Ashley)  After the rehearsal dinner at the OU Inn, we made our way up to Court Street.  The groom did join us for a few drinks on Friday night but this was the crew that made the rounds- Tony’s; The Junction; The Pub; Pawpurrs; and the C.I.  There were shots (like Tony’s Hot Nuts and Girl Scout Cookies- both delicious) and lethal drinks (Junction Punches and At the end of the night, and again the next morning, the conclusion was we cannot drink like we used to.  Thank goodness for Goodfellas, one of OU students’ favorite late night treats, to help soak up some of the alcohol before bed.  

How did we do it back in college?  Sadly, we probably all drank (a lot) more back then too then we ever will as alums.  Now I won’t directly say that OU is a party school, but there’s definitely a lot of partying going on in that little college town.  I did a lot of reminiscing on Friday night.  Each bar instigated a surplus of memories.  Each familiar face made me think of another friend of mine.  I took a lot of deep breaths that night.  It felt so great to be back.

Saturday Morning: I woke up early to get a work-out in before the others awoke.  Running on the treadmill gave me time to take it all in.  Admist all of the traveling and socializing on Friday, I didn’t get much time to myself.  But here I was, in Athens.  When the troops finally arose we discovered that some were more hungover than others, and unfortunately a greasy breakfast and coffee didn’t help.  Still we managed to get everyone together for a trip uptown for some shopping at College Bookstore and Cross Court Cards & Gifts- which I used to love going to so much!  It was the perfect place to kill time between classes, and I would stop by (Note: It’s sorta a really small town-version of Target like cards and mementos.  Perfect for women.)  We didn’t get a chance to spend much time uptown, but I did get a chance to grab a coffee at Donkey (for Phill) before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding. 

Saturday Evening- The Wedding: I have to say that we all look pretty dapper in our wedding wardrobes- even the guys (jk).  It was a vast improvement from our usual Saturday afternoon attire of tee shirts, sweats, and flip-flops.  The ceremony was in a chuch right off campus, and it was there that we met up with our former roommate, Amanda.  I’m just going to say that the ceremony was interesting; a lot different from ones I’ve attended before. 

I’ll come clean and admit that I was distracted for much of the ceremony.  One reason was because I have always seen Bill and Renee as such a complimentary couple.  They just fit so well together.  They’ve been together since I’ve known them- getting together during their freshmen year at OU- and I know that their relationship hasn’t been perfect, but they figured out how to make it work.  And in my opinion, 1) it’s not easy and 2) the college lifestyle definitely makes it challenging.    But isn’t love about overcoming the challenges, proving how strong your love for one another is?  Then again, I’m single so what do I know?

During the ceremony I began daydreaming about a wedding in Athens…my own wedding.  If I married an OU alum, a particular one for that matter, then I could very well see myself getting married there.  Wait, me getting married?  And to whom would that be? 

Next topic please… 

The reception was in the same building as my former dining hall, Nelson, which was on South Green- my stomping grounds sophomore year.  After dinner I decided to get some fresh air and go for walk on the infamous catwalk (so many memories).  Seriously, part of me felt like I was twenty years old again.  It was surreal.  I was having flashbacks and thinking of my OUers- one in particular.  Should I call him?  I called Libby and left her a voicemail.  Should I call him?  I called Darlene, leaving her a rambling voicemail about how crazy it felt to be back there and how I kept thinking of him, thinking of calling him.  (The message didn’t save due to my new phone.)  Walking along the catwalk, I made my way to Dougan (my sophomore dorm).  Feeling caught up in the moment, and a little tipsy, I went to see if the door was unlocked.  It was.  Before I knew it, I was on the second floor of Dougan looking at my old mod.  (Note: The photos here are from when I took the others back later in the evening, and others during the reception.  I love that last photo of the boys!)

During the reception Mike and Jay introduced the game Bros Icing Bros  to us ladies.  Unfortunately for him, Rook was the likely victim of the game, which continued throughout the night.  Icings 2 & 3 were mastered and conquered by me and Ashley, respectively.  After all of the years and shit that we put up with, this is how we finally got the respect of Mike and Jay.  

Bros Icing Bros: Icing #1 (Photos 1-3, at reception).

Icing #2 (Photo 4, at reception). Icing #3 (Photo 5, at Tony’s). 

 

Saturday Night: After venturing to Dougan for a trip down memory lane (pictures above), we hiked through East Green, up Morton Hill, through College Green, until we came upon Court Street.  The walk itself was a trip down memory lane.  How many times did I make that walk- sober and not-sober? 

I love the intersection of Court & Union.  It was love at first sight for me when I first came upon it during my orientation back on July 18, 2003.  There’s a diagonal crosswalk in that small little town.  I cannot remember seeing another- even here in Chicago.  Sometimes I’ll create my own in this one intersection on the back streets in my neighborhood, always thinking of Athens when I do…but it’s not as special.  There’s only one diagonal crosswalk that I love. 

We made our way to Tony’s, beginning the Court Street Adventure- Night #2 off with a Tony’s Hot Nut, and then a water and coffee for me.  The lovely bride and groom joined us for a nightcap, which was quite a site to see as Renee was still in her gown.

I swear I wasn’t that drunk.  I promise you.  I remember leaving Tony’s and running into another bridal party, which I just so happened to know the groom!  (Long story.)  After that little occurence, the group went veered off as Mike, Ashley and I headed for some substance at Goodfellas.  Then, I believe, we walked down to Courtside but with 2 o’clock approaching we decided to call it a night too.  Not being able to reach the 1 cab in Athens (okay, there are 2 cabs total), I was able to talk the kids into walking to the hotel (approx. 20 minutes).  That was the best decision that we made.  It was a walk that the three of us will never forget.  Nothing of significance happened,  other than Ashley and Mike deciding to call and order D.P.Dough when Avalanche was closed.  Didn’t we just have Goodfellas?  My mistake. 

Anyways, back to the walk, words cannot describe how remarkable it was.  Ashley pointed out that we can see the stars”, something that none of us typically see in our cities.  As funny as it sounded at the time, she was right.  There was something so peaceful about that walk home.  I, myself, was ‘me’ in that moment.  It’s something I am always searching to find (again); something that I always seem to naturally find when I’m back in Athens.  I cannot describe it but know what it is because of how I feel when it’s there, within me.  I hate to say it, but ‘it’ is there when I’m around (a) certain people too- which is why I am still hoping to find/reconnect with ‘it’ again. 

Sunday Morning: I won’t say too much about the morning because I hate saying goodbye to friends and to Athens.  We headed back up to Court Street for brunch at Bagel Street and one last stop at Donkey for much-needed caffeine for the ride home.  Because of the bus schedule in Columbus, I decided to drive back with Ashley, Jay, and Mike to Cleveland and take Megabus back to Chicago from there that evening.  (Yes, it was a long day.)  We said our goodbyes to Meghann and Ryan before making our way to the car. 

Much to my own surprise, I handled everything fairly well.  No breakdowns.  No tears.  No depressing heart-to-hearts.  I love Athens.  I always will.  But there’s no place for me there anymore.  As an alum told me once, while I was still in school, “Athens isn’t about the place, it’s about the people.”  Without all my friends there, it’s not just my Athens anymore.  My old dorm, house, and apartment are still there, as well as my favorite bars and special spots; however, without the people who made OU so unforgettable for me, they’re just mere buildings and landmarks. 

Let me just say this…not like you have a choice.  This was probably the 2-3 time in Athens that there was no chance of Casey being there.  Every other time I ventured back, he was at least enrolled at OU and therefore he could very well be there.  But this time, knowing that there was absolutely no chance of him being there (especially with him residing in Denver now), I found myself wondering, what if he had never been there at all?  How different would my life be?  He is part of my Athens, the Athens I hold near and dear to my heart.  Although I wish he played a different role in my Athens story, and the ending was more happily ever after than maybe, someday we’ll see each other again, I am glad that he was part of my life, and in a way still is.  And since I’m down-right exhausted, I can get away saying this: If he wasn’t meant to be in my life for a serendipital reason, then heaven help me, I honestly have no idea what the reason could be. 

On that note, I’ll finish this post by saying: Athens, once again, you made me fall more in love with you.  I’m not sure how you continue to capture my heart, but I promise that no matter how far I go nor how many cities I see, you will always be ‘the one’ for me. 

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The title of this post comes from Boston’s More than a Feeling.  And here’s the Scrubs’ version of More than a Feeling, that is appropriately dedicated to the Turk & JD of my life, my former roomates/overindulgent airbanders/ forever friends, Mike & Jay.

athens to chicago in twelve hours   Leave a comment

I woke up in love Athens, OH and very, very soon I will be going to bed in Chicago.  I finally arrived home after almost 12 hours of being on the road and it feels almost as A.MAY.ZING. to be lying in my bed right now as this weekend was.  Almost A.MAY.ZING. but nowhere near as much so.  Athens, OH…it feels like home.  Different, but the same.  I’ll share many more details in the coming days.  I really need to go to bed because tomorrow proves to me be a very busy day, but fortunately no Skokie for me. 

Congratulations to Bill and Renee!  And a special thank you to my friends, Ashley, Mike, Jay, Meghann, Ryan, and Steve (aka Rook, or Snooki) for making this weekend so memorable.  It was great to be home with you.  Also, thank you to Jen, Joe, and Elise for spending time with me in Columbus on Friday. 

P.S. So I had this brilliant idea on the ride home today…an idea marked by exhaustion, I’m sure.  However, it was a good one and I’m only mentioning it on here to remind myself to g0 forth with this little plan.  It really is a favor, and one that can actually benefit the person being asked to perform the favor more than me; however it requires me to place the initial request.  Okay, I’ll spare you from listening to my rambles even more.

Good night.

june series: your whole life is about to change in a way that it will never be the same again. you’re opening a new chapter and you have to give a proper goodbye to the old one. you don’t want to miss these moments, even the sad ones, because you’ll never get them back again. so enjoy this time, let it wash over you so that your memories of it are strong.   1 comment

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.

June 2006.  What a month it was.  At that time I really didn’t think I’d live to see another June.  But four years later, I can look back and see how far I’ve come.  

Let’s start with Graduation Day.     Much to my dismay, and hope that a whole Disney miracle occurring-preferably me waking up to find myself on the first day of college all over again instead of the last. 

Here are some of my fellow Class of 2006 alumni friends.  The imfamous Jay and Mike, whom I have the pleasure of venturing back to Athens with this weekend for our friends’ wedding.  (They’re lovely and single, ladies.  However, they do come in a package deal.  Just kidding.  Sorta.)  And the second photo is of my dear friend and former Facebook ‘it’s complicated’ boyfriend, Phill.  Now if this photo doesn’t say, “I graduated from OU!” then I’m not sure any will.

There were two graduation ceremonies that Saturday.  A few of my friends, including Joe, Phill, and Rebecca, graduated in the morning and were fortunate to have the better speaker for theirs.  The rest of us all gathered in our River Park apartments getting ready for our parents’ arrivals.  I was so numb that day.  I remember Jay came in and said something to me about being ‘naturally pretty and not needing any makeup and I didn’t even blush.  (PS. He tells lies because I definitely need it!)  Shortly after the arrival of all of our parents, we took a few photos and then headed to the Convo Center.  I remember walking through South Green with Ashley and Jenny Massie in our caps and gowns, the boys tagging along behind us.  And I remember seeing a Black Blazer on my way there and thinking of him; wondering if that was in fact him on his way out of town- since he wasn’t graduating until the following year.  Heart breaks even more.  End scene.

I’m sure some people will say that their college graduation was one of the most memorable moments of their life, and I’m sure my graduation was memorable for my parents.  However, I cannot say the same for me.  All I remember about the ceremony is sitting next to Mike, near Kat and her boyfriend-at-the-time, Asher, and that Sleepy Sean sitting a few rows behind us (with Alex) determined to be the last graduate to receive their diploma.  Unfortunately his plan failed, but A for effort.  I kinda-sorta remember walking up on stage…no, I really don’t.  I do vaguely remember that my cell phone just happened to vibrate almost immediately after I walked off stage, and it was Joe calling me (back).   Joe Zummo.  You know, that boy may not be as good of a friend to me as Brandon, but he’s always there for me in a different sort of way.  Like so many of my other friends, I couldn’t imagine my life without him.  He deserves an A.MAY.ZING. just for being, well, Joe.  If you knew him then you’d understand why I say that.

I do have a special memory from that day that I hold near and dear to  my heart, but unfortunately no photos.  My wonderful father brought a bottle of champagne to celebrate this momentous occasion, and he found nothing wrong wtih crackin’ the bottle open in the parking lot.  The Medica Family, all four of us since my brother graciously joined in the festivities, were drinking champagne in the parking lot of the football stadium.  I actually think he may have even brought wine/champagne glasses, but I could be wrong and we were drinking from plastic cups instead. OU, Oh Yeah indeed! 

After lunch with my parents, I headed up to Red Brick to meet with Phill, Rebecca, and our friend, Eric.  They were just the group that I needed to see to begin the actual celebration that is college graduation.  It’s when the bitter turned to bittersweet.  After a few drinks, or maybe even one- we are lushes- we headed down to River Park to join the rest of the graduates in the pre-game festivities.  But my dear love, Phill, just so happen to meet a friend that he couldn’t no bring home.  The balloon just so happened to be in the trash…yes, the trash.  And yes, there’s no way he was sober.  To this very day, whenever I see this balloon in stores or in garbage cans, I think of Phill. 

We had a great time that night, but to be honest I really don’t remember many of the details.  Ashley’s brother, Scottie, fell in love with me…in a fun-joking-drunk way…and I believe we broke up a few times that night as well.  He also called me “girlfriend” most of the night, so guessing he didn’t remember my name either.  Typically gf-bf relationship. 

The highlight of my night was seeing Crazy Drew (best friend to Libby’s boyfriend, Kyle) still in his cap and gown at 2:15 am outside of Goodfella’s chowing down on a slice of pizza.  I was then serenaded by the (homeless?) guitar player outside of the Burrito Buggy as he played me Wild Horses.  Athens, I miss you! 

I stayed in Athens for a week or two after graduation, and some of my friends did the same.  As each day went by, so did another goodbye.  Although they weren’t easy, I never once cried. 

Saying goodbye to Phill was far from easy, especially because I didn’t know when I’d see him next.  He was moving to NYC almost immediately upon graduation, and while I’d always dreamed of living there I realized that my dream was just a dream.  While we’d been friends since the beginning of my first year at OU, I really fell in love with Phill for the beautiful friend he is during senior year.  He was the best boyfriend I’d ever had, and raises the bar extremely too high for any future contenders.  I love you, Phill.

In my remaining days in Athens, I went on a lot of walks with friends and alone.  That’s one of my all-time favorite things to do in Athens, and Brandon and I use to walk around that town whenever we had the chance.  Brandon.  He was the final goodbye I had to make before my dad drove me home on that fateful day.  I’ll spare the details, but saying goodbye to him broke my streak of not crying as I teared-up at the thought of our goodbye time actually being upon us.  As he said the other day to me on the phone, “we were inseparable” at OU.  I love you, B, and I couldn’t have imagined OU nor my entire life without you.  Afterall, I didn’t make a tee-shirt for anyone else. 

My dad and me left shortly after, but before getting on the highway I asked him if he would drop me off over at my old stomping grounds, Dougan- my dorm, my first ‘home’ at OU.  I sat on the infamous catwalk for awhile with thoughts and memories running through my head.  Part of me was numb, and part of me was under the worst pain imaginable.  I called Libby and talked to her for a few minutes, but hung up with the intention to place another call.  But I didn’t.  Instead I said goodbye to Dougan, and to OU. 

As soon as we got on Rt. 33, I balled my eyes out.  My poor dad didn’t know what to do, but he did the best thing he possibly could and just allow me to cry.  It wasn’t all tears of sadness.  I know that now.  It was tears of memories; of anxiety; of lost hopes and dreams; of lost love; and mostly, tears of feeling lost and being afraid of the unknown.

That was four years ago, and here I am headed back to that same little college town this weekend.  Four years.  Wow.  At that time, if you would have told me that I would be who I am today (more confident and comfortable in her skin) and where I’m at (living in Chicago), I would have called you craaaaaazzzzy. 

I still miss Athens, and mostly I miss my friends and the times I spent with them in Athens.  The memories will always be there.  I know that.  But there are so many days that I wish I could call up Brandon and go for a walk around town.  And when Libby posts on Facebook that she’s having a bad day, I just want to be able to walk up to her house on Mound Street with sour Skittles.  And then there’s Phill.  While I hated how much time he spent at Alden Library, I secretly loved knowing that he’d be there so I could surprise him with Magic Cookie squares and tempt him to take a quick break.   

So many memories, and so many good friends.  I know that Athens will always feel like home, but as I just emailed Adriana, I also know that it will never be the same without all of my friends there.  As an alumni once told me during Homecoming Weekend of my senior year, “Athens isn’t about the place, it’s about the people.” 

I arrived in Athens with very few life experience and so much to learn.  Each and every person I met, each experience I had, it’s all within me now and is responsible for the person that I am today.  College was the best time of my life.  Sure I had bumps and bruises, not to mention a broken heart, but I cannot even begin to put into words how special those three years were to me.  My OU friends will always hold a special place in my heart.  We met as acquaintances, soon became friends, and left as family.  Love you all.

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Or maybe I’ve been thinking about how to say goodbye to you all week. Maybe I’ve been thinking about how to make those words come out of my mouth every second of the day since I made the decision to leave. Maybe saying goodbye to you is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

You may return here once you have fully come to understand that you are always here. (Eat. Pray.  Love. )