Spring & Summer Rewind: A Recap of My Recent Adventures

To me, one of the weirdest things (if not the weirdest thing) about adulthood is the lack of finish lines. I'm so used to measuring my life in school years — predictable cycles with beginnings, ends, and, best of all, mandated breaks along the way. Living without semesters feels disorienting to me — as though I keep lifting my wrist to check my watch and realizing I'm not wearing one. Time keeps passing, but I've lost the very measure by which I make sense of it. So I just ... keep going. Each season fades into the next, and I barely realize it until I look backward. When I look do backward on spring and summer of this year, I see seasons punctuated by lots of little trips to see friends from my high school and college and grad school days. I have cherished not just these trips themselves but also the anticipation of them. Each feels like a brief retreat from adulthood, a step back in time to a stage of life that passed too quickly.

Writing about my happenings somehow serves to make them last longer, so here’s a little overview of my adventures as of late:

1. Ohio in March

♫ In the words of T-Swift, “Oh, darlin’, don’t you ever grow up. Don’t you ever grow up. Just stay this little.” ♪

♫ In the words of T-Swift, “Oh, darlin’, don’t you ever grow up. Don’t you ever grow up. Just stay this little.” ♪

Fittingly, the first trip of the year was with high school friends, i.e., a few of my longest-standing besties. Lindsay, Emily and her baby Lily, and I traveled up to Ohio to see Kristina and celebrate the first birthday of her baby, Jack. These children! I can’t believe how big they’re getting. (That sounds like such a grown-up thing to say.) Emily and Kristina both have new babies on the way (due in November and January, respectively), and I’m so excited to kiss those babies’ faces.

2. California in April

My California trip with my Mizzou besties Bekah and Melissa came next chronologically, but since I already covered it in detail in this post, I won’t rehash it here. That said, I mentally rehash it all the time. Every time I talk to those girls, I start daydreaming about recreating the trip next year. We’re thinking of road tripping up California to Yosemite.

3. Charlotte in May

Feels so right.
Feels so right.

Next I drove a total of 18 hours to and from Charlotte (#traffic) for roughly the same number of waking hours with my girls from Asbury, and it was more than worth it. We stayed at Lauren’s new house — which is as cute as her blog, btw — and it felt like home just to be surrounded by these girls. Our little friend group clicked as freshmen and stuck together all four years. (Which means they have seen the worst sides of me and keep me still. That is ❤.) While in Charlotte we got pedicures, ate Mexican food, went outlet shopping, and generally pretended we were still in college. Can all our children go to Asbury together?

4. Needtobreathe and Ben Rector in May

Happy birthday to me!
Happy birthday to me!

This was not a trip, but it feels worth mentioning both because it was one of the best parts of my summer and because longtime readers will remember that I have, in the past, traveled to see both Needtobreathe and Ben Rector separately, but this year THEY BOTH CAME TO ME, TO MY CITY, TOGETHER, ON MY BIRTHDAY. It was like a birthday present from the Lord. PLUS two of my dear friends (whom I love even more than NTB and BR) were also in town for the concert — HS friend Lindsay and college friend Anna, so I got to see them both and smash my face against theirs for selfies. Best birthday ever.

5. Nashville in June

Good for my heart.
Good for my heart.

Conveniently for me, Nashville is nearly equidistant between Louisville, where I live, and Atlanta, where Asbury bestie Taylor lives. This makes it the perfect place for us to meet up for the weekend, bask in each other’s presence, and marvel at all the stylish locals. This was the second year in a row that we’ve met there, and we basically tried to recreate last year’s trip — got our nails done, drank hipster coffee, browsed little boutiques, and ate at the Loveless Cafe, which serves up common grace in the form of buttermilk biscuits. I may or may not have worn a romper. (When in Rome.)

6. Indiana in July

I'm ready to go back.
I'm ready to go back.

Next I headed north again. Asbury friends and froommates Anna and Jenelle and I drove up to Indiana to surprise our friend/former small group leader/former boss, Abby, for her birthday. This trip was so good for my little heart. You know those friends you have who are a few years older than you so they can just love on you and endow you with all sorts of life wisdom? That was Abby and her husband to our friend group in college. Seeing them reminded me how crazily blessed I had been at Asbury. Plus I got to squeeze their kiddos, one of whom I hadn’t even met prior to this! Abby also taught us how to make string art, which is way, way trickier and more time-consuming than it looks. You can see her string art and other handmade artwork here.

7. Home in July

THERE ARE EIGHT BABIES IN THIS PICTURE. Four visible, four in tummies.
THERE ARE EIGHT BABIES IN THIS PICTURE. Four visible, four in tummies.

Home is only an hour away for me, but it still feels like a bit of a trip. In July I went home for a weekend at Kristina’s pool with my high school friends, including Brooke, who’s been IN KENYA, IN AFRICA, on the OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD for the past two years (and now lives in Louisville, woohoo!), and Laura, whose sweet BABY GIRL TWINS I got to meet for the first time. Look at all dem babies! I want to tell my friends both to keep these babies coming and to slow down until I catch up.

8. Columbia in August

Feels like home.
Feels like home.

Just a couple of weeks later, I headed to Columbia to see my Missouri people. There are a few things I always have to do when I go to Columbia: run on the trail (best trails in the country); go with Bekah to get Indian food from the sketchiest, most delicious Indian place ever; go to the Columbia Target; visit campus; and spend some QT with (slash absorb lots of life wisdom from) people from my old church. Check, check, check, check, and check. Another reason for this visit was to meet/vet Bekah’s new boo, and he passed my vetting.

9. Houseboat in September

Our summer tradition
Our summer tradition

The most recent trip was with my high school friends to Betsy’s granddad’s houseboat. This was our eighth houseboat weekend since senior year of high school. The houseboat is, historically, my favorite place on the planet because once you’re there, you’re there, and no one has cell service. Except this year we pretty much all ended up having cell service. Darn you, cell phone companies and your ever-expanding coverage! So I put my phone on Do Not Disturb (a setting I probably need to use more than I do) and just enjoyed a too-short time with these girls, my loves.

In the midst of all these visits with friends, I've repeatedly found myself marveling at the ongoing blessing that these friendships have been to me. I'm done with grad school and college and high school, but the best parts of these stages are not completely behind me because the relationships continue. Part of me looks longingly on the bygone years and wishes I could go back in time. And part of me knows that just having people to return to is a blessing in its own right, one for now.

Life in Louisville has been a lot harder than I anticipated. I can’t figure out if it’s this city or simply this stage of life. Maybe I’d feel this way anywhere. I just can’t imagine that I will look back longingly on these early adulthood years in the same way that I look back on earlier stages.

What I do know is that, whether or not I ever miss this stage as a whole, there will be individual people and things about it that I miss. One day I will surely miss being able to bebop around to see my people all the time. That is a temporary luxury, so I will cherish it now — even if it’s only the highlight of an otherwise rough season.

And what was I just saying about seasons? They tend to fade away before I realize it? I know this one could too, whether or not I can see the finish line.

Until then, I’ll enjoy the myriad trips this stage affords. Next stop: Atlanta with my Asbury girls in three weeks. I can't wait.

California Lo-ove

Last week I headed to SoCal to spend some much-needed time with two dear friends from my grad school days, Melissa (who lives there) and Bekah — and, of course, to get a spring break tan. Just kidding about that last part. We all know I wore SPF 70+ the whole time. I do have some new freckles, though. Prior to this trip, I’d never been farther west than Kansas City, so this was my first time seeing the Pacific Ocean. We visited Hollywood, Santa Monica, Corona Del Mar, Malibu, and elsewhere in L.A., so I feel as though I got a good taste of the West Coast.

Here are a few of my thoughts and observations from the week:

1. Praise the Lord for air travel and direct flights. I drove to St. Louis to meet Bekah on Friday after work, and the next morning she and I hopped on a plane to LAX (with dreams but not cardigans) and arrived there by like 10:30 a.m. Arriving so early made it feel as though we were getting an entire extra day of vacay. I love living in the future. I also love sitting next to mah bestie on a plane.

2. The only thing more amazing than the number of languages I heard spoken in Santa Monica was the number of selfie sticks I saw there. I knew such contraptions existed, but I didn’t know who actually bought them. Now I know who buys them: European tourists.

3. All the palm trees led me to believe initially that California was quite similar to Florida, but the longer I stayed, the more I realized that, though California caters to Florida-esque activities, Californians — or at least those around L.A. — live at a much faster pace than Floridians. The pace of life around L.A. reminded me of Pittsburgh. People seem to be in a hurry. The traffic is ri-dic-u-lous.

I don’t think Clay Aiken has a star on the Walk of Fame, so I settled for Barry Manilow — which, let’s be honest, is pretty close. Look to our right behind us, and you’ll see the Hollywood sign.
I don’t think Clay Aiken has a star on the Walk of Fame, so I settled for Barry Manilow — which, let’s be honest, is pretty close. Look to our right behind us, and you’ll see the Hollywood sign.

4. We tend to use “Hollywood” as a synonym for the entertainment industry, but when you’re actually there, it feels like any other neighborhood (save for the palm trees). I expected driving through Hollywood to be like driving through an episode of The Hills or something, but we didn’t see Lauren Conrad or, much to Melissa’s dismay, Zac Efron. (But we did see a guy who looked like an Indian version of Ben Wyatt from Parks and Rec, if that counts.)

Wetsuits make us look like legit surfers, but I promise, IT’S ALL A MIRAGE. Here we were with our surfing instructor/new friend Justin.
Wetsuits make us look like legit surfers, but I promise, IT’S ALL A MIRAGE. Here we were with our surfing instructor/new friend Justin.

5. Wetsuits are so hard to put on. Putting on a wetsuit is sort of like putting on Spanx — if Spanx were three times tighter and covered your entire body. That said, WETSUITS ARE AMAZING. They keep you totally warm in the cold water. I’d never given this any thought before. Additionally, though wetsuits are super tight, I found they made the beach much more enjoyable because the only two un-fun parts about going to the beach are 1) covering your entire body in sunscreen and 2) exposing said body to the masses. Put on a wetsuit, and you don’t have to do either of these things. I never want to wear a regular bathing suit again.

6. Surfing is just as fun as would be expected, and I am just as bad at it as would be expected. I did manage to catch a few waves (as the pros say), but only while lying on my stomach on the board, which is the step you master before getting on your knees on the board, which is the step you master before getting on your feet on the board. So what I did was like two steps removed from actual surfing.

Our surfing instructor, a.k.a. Melissa’s friend Justin, graced us with these words of wisdom while we nommed on In ’n Out burgers after our lesson: “Catching a wave is the best feeling in the world, second only to being born again.” Quote of the week.

So much food. Look at our cookies
So much food. Look at our cookies

7. SO MUCH FOOD. We ate so much food. California may have more restaurants than people. There are so many options that making a decision about where to eat takes 45 minutes and a pro/con list and prayer and fasting. The best thing I ate, though, was probably the double chocolate caramel sea salt fudge cookies that we made in Melissa’s cookie laboratory. She works in research and development for a wholesale baking company (putting her engineering and food science degrees to work). Her lab has every cookie ingredient imaginable. It’s like being on a Food Network show, except that I would’ve eaten far fewer ingredients if I were being filmed for television.

Hiking in Malibu
Hiking in Malibu

8. Californians only know about California. (I thought this was only true of Texans.) The rest of us just live in “flyover states.” Melissa’s friends kept referring to Missouri and Kentucky as Minnesota and Kansas. MINNESOTA AND KANSAS.

I did speak to two people who were marginally familiar with Kentucky, and they mentioned the classics: fried chicken and horses. “My mother gets all her horses from Kentucky,” said a man in Malibu. I wanted to be like, “Why, of course she does, our thorahbreds are unrahvaled in this faaahn country.”

I'm so creepy.
I'm so creepy.

9. One of the best parts of the trip was getting to visit Melissa’s church and meet her new friends. Now I have faces to match with names, and one glance at the bookshelves in her friends’ house had me convinced that she’s in good hands. (I judge books by their covers and people by their books. Sorry not sorry.) I snuck this pic of one bookshelf to show everyone back in Missouri who loves and misses Melissa that clearly she is in good hands — or at least in the hands of people who read good books.

These girls — such a blessing to me!
These girls — such a blessing to me!

10. Part of me didn’t want to be that girl blowing up Facebook with pictures of her vacation, but most of me knew I would want to look back on the pictures, so I blew up Facebook anyway. (Am I the only person who sees Facebook as my own virtual scrapbook of memories?) Some of the best parts of the trip couldn’t be captured in an Instagram photo, though. Because, as fun as surfing was, it was not as fun as chilling in Melissa’s room with her and Bekah and laughing so hard about I-can’t-even-remember-what.

When we scheduled this getaway back in February, I had no idea how much I would absolutely need to be with these girls this past week. Throughout the trip I found myself marveling at the Lord’s provision and timing. He knew when I would need some QT with mah people, so he provided it at just the right time. I am so so grateful for these girls' friendship. Even though we're usually at a distance, they are a constant reminder of the Lord's goodness to me throughout the ups and downs of these 20-something years.

Eight Mini-Posts

One: 

I first heard of Audrey Assad like two and half weeks ago, and her music has basically been keeping me sane ever since. Some mornings I literally listen to "Sparrow" on repeat from the time I leave my apartment to the time I get to campus.

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If you don't have Spotify, that playlist won't work, so you can hear her on YouTube.

Two:

I went to Kansas City last weekend with Melissa, Hayley, and Bekah, and it was such a wonderful little brain break for me.

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Bekah and I met some men while we were there. By which I mean, Bekah took a picture with a statue, and I took a picture with a headless Gap mannequin. I have a stronger than reasonable appreciation for the Gap menswear mannequins. They just dress like they could hold down jobs, okay?

Three:

As evidenced by the aforementioned photo of Mr. Mannequin and me (look closely), I have recently/rapidly developed an overwhelming love for iced coffee. This may or may not be the result of an overwhelming workload. I've always hated coffee, but now all of a sudden I can't get enough of it. If it is icy and creamy and sweetened, OBVS.

GET IN MY LIFE,  ICED COFFEE.

Autumn is an inopportune time to realize that you love an iced drink.

Four:

My parents came to visit me a few weeks ago, and it was just the best. My dad and I got to go to the Mizzou vs. Georgia game, and now just looking at the pictures makes me miss them so much it hurts. I can't wait to see them next month.

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AREN'T THEY THE CUTEST!?

Five:

Speaking of cute people whom I love and miss, I GET TO SEE THESE GIRLS THIS WEEKEND. Pardon me while my heart explodes.

See how I was all puffy-eyed in that last pic? That was our last school day at Asbury. My heart was being ripped into a billion pieces. Saturday — for the first time since graduation — we will all be back together, and we will be celebrating sweet Katelyn's wedding. I cannot wait.

I cannot wait. I cannot wait. I cannot wait.

I think being at Mizzou has given me an even stronger appreciation for the time I spent at Asbury. I love Mizzou, but sometimes when I talk to undergrads, I get almost overwhelmed with sadness about the fact that they're all missing out on the small college experience that I had. Getting to go to Asbury was — and will always be, I'm sure — one of the biggest blessings I've ever been given. These girls are such a huge part of that blessing.

Six: 

Speaking of going to Katelyn's wedding, I am going in an AIRPLANE. I have not been on an airplane since 1999. NINETEEN NINETY-NINE, Y'ALL. That was like the olden days.

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Seven: 

The girlies and I went to an advanced showing of Pitch Perfect a couple of weeks ago, and it was hilar. I can't wait to see it again now that it is in theaters for reals. It was basically everything that Glee should have been. And now I have a crush on the main guy, which should come as a surprise to no one.

Eight:

I have used various forms of the word "overwhelmed" far too many times for a single blog post. Sometimes I feel the need to go back and carefully edit my blog posts and make myself sound more articulate and less like a 15-year-old girl. But sometimes I am like, "WHATEVS. I SPEND SO MUCH TIME EDITING STUFF THAT GETS GRADED THAT I AM NOT GOING TO SCRUTINIZE WHAT ISN'T GETTING GRADED." And, yes, I do think in all caps. That, too, should come as a surprise to no one.

Six Months of Memories

I've lived in Columbia for six months as of today! Can you believe it? I can't. So so grateful for all the friends and memories I've already made here.

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