Friendship and family are other love relationships that I don't talk about much here. While I certainly don't take them for granted I do often forget to take the time to reflect and be thankful. And lately, I have felt extra loved and supported.
My friends and I are at the age where we've lived in NYC for more than a decade and we have accomplished many things. Some were planned, some were surprises and now is the time we wonder "what's next?" We are shaking things up and making life changes.
I have friends who've moved to San Diego, rural Vermont, Sweden, and Canada. Others are engaged, having babies, and breaking up with the partners they thought they'd marry.
Life is happening.
This past weekend I stayed with my girlfriend from high school (who I've known for more than 20 years - wow) to help take care of her adorable 2-year old because she's about to pop out her second baby any minute.
While lying on her couch I found a box of photos. I opened it and saw among college and family photos two postcards. I flipped them over.
They were from me to her. One from China and one Bali. Both dated 1998.
Reading words written by my own self 16 years ago was a fascinating thing. I jumped into a time machine and became 20 years old again. In August 1998 I traveled outside the US for the first time for a semester abroad in Nanjing, China. But before it started two classmates and I decided to explore Southeast Asia.
I had no idea what I was doing.
Armed with my brand new passport I hopped on a 20 hour flight to Hong Kong for a few days, followed by Bangkok, then a week in Bali, then up to Shanghai to meet our other classmates.
I remember calling my friend before my trip to say goodbye. He asked where we planned to stay when we got to Bangkok. "Do you have a hotel?"
"No. We'll figure it out when we get there." I said with confidence.
What the hell did I know? Not much, but it seemed like the right thing to do according to the "Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" Lonely Planet book.
My parents also didn't have a clue and were prepared to worry ceaselessly. Yet despite their reservations they dropped me off at JFK airport and hugged me goodbye. They had the courage to support me.
What happened to 20 year old me defined who I am today. I am an explorer of new things, new people, new learnings about the world and about myself.
That trip taught me to be resilient and flexible, and to fear the unknown only enough to propel me forward rather than hold me back. It was a time when cell phones didn't exist, and finding a cafe with dial-up internet was a gift that came only once every few weeks. I felt for the first time in my life completely free.
I am truly thankful.
For my parents who let me go away to other the side of the planet. For my friends who received my postcards, saved them, and are still my friends today. For my new friends who challenge me and make me laugh everyday.
I am so fucking lucky to have you all in my life supporting and loving me. You are the people who allow me to explore, to push myself, to love, to fail, to succeed, to cry, to be strong, to be me.
I still don't know shit, but you give me the confidence that I'll figure it out.