Dear 2015: You Suck, I’m Moving On

Dear 2015: You have been the worst year of my life so far. I should have known that was going to be the case since you started with the death in the family of my, back then still, boyfriend. I was optimist enough to believe it could only go uphill from there. But, over the course of you, I have lost everything I have loved and let go of everything I had built for myself. Over the course of you, you have made me doubt myself in more ways and to more depths than any other year before you and there were few victories that did not come at a price.

Sure, you are the year I traveled to Hawaii, stood up on a surfboard for the first time and saw the magical fireworks show in Disneyland. You are the year I fought my fear of flying, saw my best friend twice and visited cities and states I never thought I would ever see. You are the year I got to enjoy countless breathtaking sunsets and dozens of beach walks. At your best, you are the year that made me realize, once again and this time for certain, what I want all years of my life to look like.

But you are also the year that leaves me with no certainty in any aspect of my life. You are the year that is making me start all over again. You are the year that has turned me into the ghost of a girl that I want to be most, to the shell of a girl that I used to know well… Heck, now you are even the year that makes me quote Christina Perri lyrics! You leave me incredibly scared of the future and pessimistic that things are going to get better. You leave me stranded, insecure and feeling like an idiot.

You might be the year I will look back at some day as the one that taught me the meaning of fighting, of not giving up, of growing. As the year that will pinpoint a remarkable change for the better, a year that will impact the rest of my life in hauntingly beautiful ways that I can’t even see from where I stand right now. But, until then, forgive me for hating you, for despising you and for impatiently waiting for you to be over. 2015, you suck, I’m moving on!

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Trust that everything will be okay.

There will, inevitably, be times when life will throw us curve balls before we’re ready to hit them.

There will be times where we feel so happy – or comfortably content- with our lives that we wouldn’t want to change a thing. But life wouldn’t be life if it didn’t throw you that curve ball every once in a while and suddenly everything needs to change. Perhaps the most challenging time of all will be the chasm that exists between these chapters in your life. When we have to walk away before we’re ready. When we have to leave what we want and what we love in the past.

Up till this point, I had always been ready for the next chapter. I could always acknowledge the memories made but would look forward to making more, different memories in the future. I had never been in a situation like this before, where I need to walk away from what I love before I’m ready to. Every fibre of my being understood that my visa will expire in September and there is nothing I could do about it. Every rational part of me knew that my situation wasn’t even all that bad: The company I enjoy working for wants to keep me employed and relocate me to Europe once my visa expires. And, since they don’t have an office established there, I could move anywhere in Western Europe as long as I have a working phone and internet connection. And yet, I’ve been spending the last 4 months either ignoring all that or trying to find a miraculous loophole or shortcut that would allow me to have it all. I wanted to linger.

But lately, I have been trying my best to return to my old self. The self that is adventurous and positive and happy no matter the place or the situation. In moments of transitions, you have to believe that there are so, so many better things coming than any of the things we have left in the past. You have to have faith in the future, in the unknown, in the tomorrows and somedays that will line up in ways you can’t possibly imagine from where you’re standing now. You have to have faith in yourself – faith that you will get yourself to where you want to go, even if you’re not entirely certain where that is yet. Faith in your future self to figure out if she wants to move to Berlin or London or Lisbon or Paris or Amsterdam or…

Yes, California has made me indescribably happy and I will leave a big piece of my heart in San Francisco. But before moving to this city, before making it home and becoming this incredibly happy here, all I had wanted was to stay in my protected bubble of friends and family, rainy German days and not push myself out of my comfort zone. I guess I sometimes forget that, just because the scene in the rear view mirror looks nicer than the scene on the road ahead, doesn’t mean you’ll never reach another beautiful destination.

It’s rare and it’s wonderful to ever find a place or a person or a certain situation that makes you want to linger for longer. When happiness hits us, we all want to cling to it as tightly and as mercilessly as possible. We want to capture it and hold it between our palms forever – not realizing that we have to let it go for it to mean anything at all.

I thing that, when we have to leave the things we love behind, we are allowed to mourn them. To miss them. To look back on them dejectedly and sadly. But we must never, ever forget that the best days of our lives are not all behind us. That there are more wonderful things awaiting us in the future than we could ever even fathom. That so many of our happiest days are still ahead. And that we have to keep moving to get there – no matter how tempting that view in that rear view mirror is. And in order to get there, we have to blindly and blissfully trust that it’s going to be somewhere indescribably worth going.

I Miss You

It has almost been 2 years since we’ve said good-bye. I think it’s good that neither one of us knew back then how long it would be until we’d see each other again. It made parting a little easier. It gave me the illusion that I would see you again in no time. Instead, I have been missing you every single day for the past, almost, 2 years. So, I wanted to say thank you.

Thank you for being you and for letting me be me. Thank you for letting me feel so much like myself when I’m with you. Thank you for not making me wear any masks or put on any fronts. Thank you for sharing in my happiest moments, and for genuinely feeling the same; for listening to my saddest stories and radiating compassion and empathy from wherever you are.

Thank you for just showing up at my door that one night, in your soccer gear, refusing to leave me alone. Thank you for running to the pulse with me, getting prepped for that movie night. Thank you for making me smash those balloons and for that moment when we formed the plan of interning in New York City. Thank you for helping me make that happen.

Thank you for the laughs, for the cries, and for everything in between. Thank you for being my rock, my anchor; for keeping me grounded when I feel like I might otherwise blow away. Thank you for knowing my favorite ice cream flavor and what song I would die for. Thank you for always knowing what to say and for being one of life’s best teachers. Like I’ve said- if I end up married and with children, it is greatly because you have changed how I look at those things.

Thank you for helping me through really dark times. Thank you for the summer of 2012 and everything we learned from it. Thank you for making me reflect on myself and how I fight and make up with people. Thank you for setting the bar so high and making it impossible to find another friend as good as you. Thank you for making the four short years we have been friends feel like forever and for giving me enough memories to last a lifetime, but not ending there. Thank you for making me hurt when I miss you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for the absolute privilege and honor of being able to call you my best friend; thank you for being my person. Thank you for giving me these reasons, and a million more, to be thankful for.

Forever and Always,

Your Best Friend

Dear Diary,

Today, I went through my old diaries. Jeez. I think you all should meet High-School Ari:

High School Ari was awkward. VERY awkward. Her biggest issues were having neither boobs nor a boyfriend. Naturally, both these things kept her up at night. She would use phrases like “utterly handsome” to describe Robert Pattinson (here’s to all these moments she would pause Twilight only to be able to zoom in and gaze at Robert’s face in Aaw…). She would write things like “I am really slacking in school, I’ve been bringing home nothing above a B+ lately, that needs to improve” … and actually be serious about that. She would crush on a guy for 1.5 years but he ignored her and fell in love with her best friend instead. Still, she would fill her diaries with daily entries á la: “He is still soooooooooooo …. x1.000… oooooo cute. I need to make a move soon before he has a girlfriend!” I never made a move and he never became my boyfriend.

High-School Ari would also be very self-critical and much more unhappy than I remember her to be: “I am kinda the biggest loser in class. I wish the kids would stop bullying me and actually become my friends, but that’s okay. I will get good grades and make it.”

And while I felt sorry for the 13-year-old girl who wrote those lines, I mentally high-fived her, too. Because I did achieve just that. I moved abroad, I am fluent in English. Hold and beware, I even have boobs AND a boyfriend. But these past days, I also realized that these things don’t come free to us. I began to understand the trade-offs we always have to accept when going our own ways and making life choices. I am grown up now. There’s no point denying that. As much as I would like to just stay home a little longer, spend my days playing guitar, laughing with my brothers, getting fed by my granny, drinking wine with my parents, I can’t. Because there is a life waiting for me, there’s responsibilities and people relying on me and promises.

When I was 14, all I wanted from life was to grow up and move away, show ’em that I was right focusing on grades and dreams. But now, I kinda wish I wouldn’t have let myself grow up all that quickly. I wish my biggest worries would still be boys and when I would finally get kissed. Life might have been less exciting at 14 but it was more innocent and it involved less letting go of people and places you love. We all eventually have to accept that our childhoods are over and the sooner we let that go, the faster we can grab the steering wheel again. I lucked out in many aspects of life and I don’t want to complain. But I will try my best to teach my future children the art of holding on and letting go off their childhood!

 

Thoughts I had while Christmas Shopping

Going home for Christmas means getting everyone at least one gift. In my case, having been gone for so long, it meant shopping for 18 people. 18. People.

I thought I’d be very strategic about it and so I blocked a whole entire weekend off of my schedule for what came to be known as Mission Christmas amongst my housemates. Here are thoughts that will inevitably cross your mind while out on Mission Christmas:

1.” Yay, I’m gonna put my Christmas playlist on shuffle while riding downtown. Nothing better than Christmas music to get you into the right mood.”
2. “Iiiit’s a holly jolly Christmaaas…and now everybody!”
3. “Might as well grab a Starbucks Christmas special! Peppermint Mocha, eeeeeek!!!”
4. “Hmmm…okay, let me look at the list of ideas I carefully crafted out last night. Because, remember, this is not about me, this is about the 18 people trusting in my shopping ability!”
5. “Holy shit, I look hot in that leather jacket! Urban Outfitters, why you so expensive?!”
6. “I mean, getting yourself a Christmas present is totally allowed, right? And the new phone I got myself last week was basically a delayed birthday present anyways, that doesn’t even count into my Christmas pile at all!”
7. “Okay, fine. Let’s do this: if I manage to stay under (insert $ amount here) for all of the Christmas presents, I’m gonna buy myself that jacket!”
8. “I am such an excellent prioritizer. Might as well get myself another Starbucks drink, seeing that I saved myself money by not buying that leather jacket.”
9. “Seriously?! How can it be that I have walked through two malls and a billion stores and still only have two gifts?”
10. “Man, it’s so hard to buy something for brothers. Why can’t I have sisters?! One trip to Sephora and I would have been done!”
11. “Next time you tell me that you don’t have any wishes, Dad, I’m gonna stop talking to you! Nothing worse than getting gifts for someone who doesn’t want anything!”
12. “Okay, this bookshelf is adorable. But, realistically, I’m not gonna fit that into a suitcase. Sorry mom!”
13. “Fine! It’s time for the big guns. I’m gonna go to Macy’s!”
14. “Why are there so many people in the stores this early? I mean, I guess 2pm isn’t that early. Dammit, why did I have to snooze my alarm five times this morning?”
15. “I want food. Like, Cheesecake Factory kinda food. Maybe I’m gonna get a cheesecake to go later.”
16. “And by maybe, I mean definitely. And by later, I mean now.”
17. “Freaking Christmas songs playing everywhere. I could not work at Macy’s right now.”
18. “Man, I’m gonna be broke after this weekend. And what could have been spend on an awesome leather jacket, will now probably go to paying for a second checked piece of luggage.”
19. “I.Hate.Shopping! It’s so hard. I’m tired. My feet hurt.”
20. “I mean, I don’t even know why I gotta get all my presents today. There is always next weekend. And I just signed up for that free trial month of Amazon Prime.”
21. “…screw this, I’m doing Amazon!”

Maybe some of you can relate. In the end, I did get all 18 people a present. I did not get that leather jacket, even though I am still dreaming about it sometimes. I will pay for a second piece of luggage at the airport tomorrow. But, most of all, I’m gonna go home for Christmas and that kinda makes it all worthwhile.

Cheers and happy holidays!

Ari

Undefined…

“So, I met this super cute guy on a dinner party the other day and we hit it off from the start. I’m going out with him tomorrow and I kinda have a crush!”
– That was me last week.

“He is an asshole, forget that I ever mentioned him, I feel so alone in this new city and how will I ever manage to meet the right guy, he seemed so promising, AAAAAH!”
– That was me yesterday.

So, what triggered those sudden changes of mind and heart? Reality did!
Disney movies, friendship necklaces in high school, mushy songs about relationships, they all hammer one eternal need into our minds: We need the one-on-one. There is someone out there who is the salt to our pepper, the John to our Paul, the Noah to our Allie (sigh now for Ryan Gosling!). And mostly, we are aware that finding this special someone will take up lots of time, hurdles, effort and (probably) a few heart breaks. It seems like there is no easy way to leading us to the One, no way to go about it without compromising something. The height. This one pet peeve in your partner you thought you could never live with. The list goes on and there is one other problem: How do you know that your current date or crush is The One?! Exactly, you can’t.

Last week I went on two dates with the same guy and they both were great. Having drinks in a bar in the trendy Mission District of San Francisco. Hiking up Twin Peaks to enjoy the view over the city at night only to throw ourselves into the hustle and bustle of the Castro Crowd afterwards. Lots of kissing and flirting and long, great talks. My crush grew by the minute.
After 4 margaritas (they were 2 for 1), we walked back to the MUNI station and got into the long good-bye kiss. Then he planted the bomb: “I feel like I should be honest with you: I am seeing someone else besides you. But I really like you. But I’m not looking for a relationship at the moment, I think.” I said good-bye as gracefully as I could and cried my way home (the margaritas were reaaally gettin to my head…) only to be pittying myself all of next day (thank awesome friends for helping me through this part). I felt so stupid thinking that after only a few days in San Francisco, I could be lucky enough to find this great guy, enjoy myself so much and not have a single catch to it. And I felt resented only thinking about the fact that he was dating another person, like…does he not realize that I am awesome enough to be enough?! Well, the truth is, he probably really doesn’t. And maybe, just maybe, that’s because we have only been on TWO dates. Having spent most of my dating life on a college campus, I am completely new to the real dates and the real talks about exclusivity and labels and going steady and I hate it already, it’s so confusing. But even I know that two dates is not nearly enough to ask someone to close themselves down to all other options. I was not a happy camper after hearing him say all that he said… because it burst my bubble! The bubble that safely held the idea of having him be the person that cares for me like no one else, who will always be there for me and I will always be there for him and oooh, can anyone else hear wedding bells in the background? We fault our partners for not being on the same page, but in my case, I needed this burst of phantasy because here is the reality: Neither of us knows the other one well enough to picture anything going anywhere at this point. And while I am generally ready for a relationship again, who knows if O. is the guy I want to have a relationship with? Him dating others will allow me to do the same, explore my options, go out and mingle without putting pressure on anything until I know for sure what I want.
Of course, there is always the risk that I am wrong. That there is this guy somewhere, to whom I am not one of several dates, who is on my level from the start, whom I don’t have to wait around for because he would never leave me hanging. Yeah, maybe I am wasting my time with O., maybe it’s really stupid to think that dating without labels isn’t setting me up for heart break. I guess I have to remind myself of my own previous blog post of advice on how to listen to myself. Being both attentive to yourself and realistic is really tough. No matter how this ends though, it’s good to have a reality check every now and then, to prevent yourself from setting sail to cloud nine only to find yourself on rock bottom.

“I like you and I really like spending time with you but we’ve only been on two dates and I feel like it would be sort of crazy to decide to be exclusive or to try and predict where this is going (or not going).  I wanna get to know you better and see how things flow before I’m making my mind up on you. So, at this point I am far from asking you to stop seeing other people or getting yourself into something you might not be ready for…mainly because I myself have no idea what I’m ready for either. In case I notice that we are headed into different directions entirely, I’ll make sure to speak up but how about we cross that bridge if ever we come to it?”
– That’s me today. Let’s see which disasters this is gonna get me into….

Cheers,
Ari