2016 Reflection

I’ve been reading a lot of posts that in one way or another reflect on the past year. My therapist also had me write a little bit about how this year went through some guided questions. But honestly, I feel the most effective way is going through month by month and digging up the experiences and lessons that challenged me or changed me.

In January, I started out with a lot of New Haven trips. It was midterm season and break. I painted a lot with my friends and burned a lot of candles. January’s are consistently filled with baths and movies and writing. For some reason I always feel super inspired. The break is rejuvenating, and it is especially more so now that I have a whole month. January brought me more of the heart of fencing season. Fencing season was an important part of me becoming obsessed with Connecticut.

February was interesting. All I can recall are awkward dates, my red peacoat, No More Parties in LA, really really cold bike rides, and a snowy trip to Boston. February increased my love of trains and public transportation. My favorite memory of February was probably visiting Hopkins’ campus outside of New Haven. They have the hands down best view of the skyline, and I’ve climbed East and West Rock. This is the month I realized I had no idea what I was doing when it came to college. My applications were sent in and I realized I had no interest in Cambridge. Or really anywhere I applied.

March was really the beginning of the end. It started to get increasingly warmer and I would lay in my bed with my skylights open, birds chirping, writing about how much I’m going to miss high school. I also became increasingly apathetic. And I wore sunglasses a lot. On St. Patrick’s Day I went to the Met for the first time and we also had the chicken hat during that trip. I also didn’t eat for two days during this month because I was being sad and dramatic about a boy breaking up with me. Mac Demarco got me through March.

April was Tame Impala’s Currents. That’s pretty much it. Also, the Lumineers’ new album. Ophelia to be exact. I committed to UVM in April. I bought a blue dress with pink flowers on it that I wore every day pretty much. This is also the month of the Vampire Weekend renaissance, and track. I also finished Gossip Girl, which was huge. This month was a lot of loopy handwriting and reading Gatsby in Humanities. I saw Bernie Sanders speak at a rally. It rained a lot.

May was just a lot of crying and sunshine at the same time. Also Change the World by Mac Demarco. Also, more Dairy Queen visits. I miss sitting at Dairy Queen for hours with my friends talking to the other kids who came in and roasting people. Everyone painted their lockers during school in May and the Senior Courtyard was filled with people again. Coloring Book came out. I remember crying riding the bus up route 79, sitting by myself listening to Blurryface on the way to my last track meet. I didn’t even like track too much but it was so sad. Rothko and increased beach days. The smell of my driver’s ed teacher’s car. My 18th birthday. Resonance.

June was a lot of the same. Changes. Lasts. Graduating. Getting spray tans for two proms. Muhammad Ali dying. Making mistakes. Seeing twenty one pilots and screaming my heart out. Getting emotional 24/7. Graduation parties. Perks. 10,000 Emerald Pools. There was a beautiful day during finals at Stony Creek that I spent with Wyatt and Michael. It was probably one of my favorite days of the year. It was also the day the wind was absolutely incredible, and we were getting blown away down at Lighthouse Point. I took some great photos that day. I was so happy. Late nights, last dinners, smiles and tears. Gilmore Girls. Rt. 222. Jesus Camp. So many amazing, happy memories.

July was sailing. I got insanely tan. I listened to Wagon Wheel a lot. I watched fireworks and went to weird coworker parties with my family. I took a trip to Bear Mountain with Catie. I went to great restaurants and had a lot of Cohen’s. Manhattanhenge. Getting what I want. I wore my first bitch outfit. First blog post about said relationship. SEEING COLDPLAY. I drove right after summer rain just before golden hour on route 80 to East Haven listening to PGHB. I almost cried at how perfect the moment was. Many, many grad parties. Blueberry Basil Lemonade. The Democratic Town Committee. Capsizing. Slow mornings. Late breakfasts. James Farmacy with Ella in our little corner. Do You Love Me.

August was rushed. August was filled with the pressure of ending summer with a bang. I was so nervous. I drove to Brooklyn and saw Beirut. I said goodbye to a lot of people. I figured out I really love applewood smoked gouda. I was the lead in a play and didn’t totally fuck it up. BIRI. My red dress and buying Jack Rogers. Riding bikes around the island with Ella, Wyatt, Brett and Michael was probably the best memory of that month. The town fireworks. Help Me Lose My Mind. Sailing. Misquamicut and Dave’s Coffee and talks with Kitty. I said goodbye and Brett sang to me in the car and it made me feel so much better. Leaving home was the saddest thing I ever had to do. I went to school and basically immediately bought a plane ticket to D.C.

September was a lot of trying. My new classes weren’t engaging. My professors were cold. It was so hot and I didn’t know what I was doing. I bought too many crepes. I spent way too much money in D.C. I cried on the plane home and when I touched down in Burlington. That’s when I knew things weren’t going to be that okay. I went to the farmer’s markets and watched Across the Universe a lot. I spent a lot of time eating overpriced snacks and watching Gilmore Girls.

October is when things started to go downhill. I got home the first time and felt frantic. I sailed in a regatta and cried driving away from the beach. I cried when we passed the Massachusetts border later in the day. Someone scratched “H2O lean same thing” into the bus window and I accidentally put beer in my coffee. It got super cold super fast and I bought a yellow jacket at Second Time Around. I got to experience Boston two weekends in a row. At the end of the month, I was done for.

November was the most uncomfortable experience of my life. My roommates hated me and I didn’t come home until 2 a.m. most nights because I didn’t want them to yell at me. I got a lot of stress pimples and realized I could not pass math. I became a recluse basically. I did make a few friends but I just really started to miss home. And then I went home after a weekend in Boston and realized I completely lost myself. Then I came back, wore turtlenecks, lipstick, and listened to Cigarettes After Sex.

December was better, filled with realizing things. First semester ended. I went to a few hockey games. I accepted what happened and moved on. I lived with Russian people and sold my clothes online. I suffered through school related depression and became addicted to mushrooms. I got in a car accident on the way home from school and my hands and feet literally froze. I worked, slept, wrote. Started my transfer applications.

2016 was probably the worst and best year of my life. It was filled with a lot of depression and sadness but so many happy things happened in the first half of the year that I can’t discount them. And my travels to Boston and D.C. first semester were positive experiences that got me away from my reality for weekends. I realized where my priorities lie this year, and worked towards them. I can say that I got what I wanted. Or at least I’m halfway there. My experiences this year are so valuable to who I am today that it’s incredible I’m not a completely different person. I have grown up and become more of who I was meant to be.

Six Days of August

I really miss summer now that I’m settled into the first semester and wearing pants most days of the week. Although I enjoy walking everywhere and I just watched the presidential debate with sixty other people (rather than holing up in my bedroom, ashamed of being the only person in my family to care about politics), I’m starting to miss Connecticut out of a place other than loneliness.

The opposite of loneliness used to be Cohen’s bagels, not wearing shoes, sitting in the passenger seat of Michael’s car playing him new music, making breakfast by myself in the morning, sprawling out on Catie’s kitchen floor eating microwaveable pizza. At college, it’s listening to unreleased Lana songs on Peter’s mattress on the floor, dipping Grundle ice cream into little pots of Hershey’s chocolate sauce in between licks, strangers making room for you on the bus even if your headphones are blasting Tame Impala way too loud and you look extremely prone to spilling your coffee everywhere, never being the only person in the library. I’m not sure what being the last to leave is like, but I hope it’s not lonely and that they smell laundry from exhaust fans on their starry walk back home.

Here is a curated snapshot of what I did before I had to live with five other strangers in a small suite I now (enthusiastically) call home.

Friday, August 12th: Woke up early, naturally. Read in bed for hours. Cohen’s with Emily; french toast with very berry cream cheese bagel. Stared at Modern Lovers in RJ Julia’s. Therapy. Hammonasset Beach State Park, West Beach. Swimming next to wet boys. Lime chips and hummus. Sweaty. Bought a candle. Emily’s CD I made for her last summer kept skipping and it sounded cool; wonder if that is how the whole DJing concept came to fruition. Final play practice. Watched Garrett learn the tabs for You and I by Ingrid Michaelson on Alex’s ukulele. I have ten mosquito bites. Took quizzes in my sister’s magazine and ate ice cream for dinner. Finally convinced myself to get the discounted Jack Rogers I’ve been eyeing for a month.

Saturday, August 13: Woke up late. Cohen’s again except I got cinnamon crunch; they were all out of french toast. Saw Michael and Catie after seventeen days apart. FJ Cruiser. Hiimg_3688gh by Peking Duk (Yahtzel Remix). Cleaned my room and watched Casey Neistat’s Draw My Life video. Cried. Church fair with Wyatt, got lemonade. First night of my play. Tried not to fuck up. Denny’s, twice. Ice cream for 2/3 meals. Laughing. Said goodbye to Catie.

Sunday, August 14th: Woke up before my alarm and made my usual breakfast bowl. Acted in play. Dripping sweat moving heavy set into my car. Penne a la vodka with my family. Said goodbye to Riley and cried and watched Jillian cry and laughed. Vacation talks. Leona. Couldn’t walk away. Saying goodbye is getting progressively more difficult. Organized closet. Sleep.

Monday, August 15th: Woke up late for work. Wanted to die. Ate popcorn for breakfast. Talked to Julie about the Lilly Pulitzer sale I missed, we wore our matching shoes that day. Put on eyeliner and mascara and went grocery shopping with Arielle. Visited Mr. Samet. She wasn’t wearing a bra and we can’t tell if he noticed. Stared at his huge living room clock and ate Milanos. Went on a sunset bike ride to Hatfield and created a new town in Animal Crossing. Finished cleaning out my closet.

img_3716Tuesday, August 16th: Woke up early. Took my brother to his first day of freshman orientation and had a Dunkin date. The strap of my new dress broke as I tried to deposit my scholarship checks. Made a sandwich and played Animal Crossing again. Cristy’s with Matt and Brett. Matt’s first time and his taste in music. Got a postcard from Maggie in the mail. Fell asleep reading at golden hour. Michael came over. Planned Block Island trip.

img_3749Wednesday, August 17th: Woke up early for work, but was still late. On self for a few hours, warm sea breeze flew in. Ate a donut. Got Cohen’s and went to the beach with Deja. Crabs kept crawling all over me. There were no jellies this summer? Also no hurricanes? Cleaning gum off my lenses and eating cocoa almonds. Talking about exciting things we are scared of. Getting my Jack Rogers and new computer in the mail. James Farmacy and a great causeway drive with Michael and my sister. Flume. Getting my to-do list done.

Thursday, August 18th: Woke up naturally at 8 AM. Brought rice cakes, coconut peanut butter, Larabars and coffees to Olivia. Stuck in traffic on route one. Wore Riley’s red dress and my new shoes. Played with Brody and the dogs and talked about Harambe. Watched Grease and Legally Blonde with my sister. Cried. Therapy by myself for the first time. More crying. Route one traffic once again; Thursday nights in Madison. Stared at Modern Lovers once again. Make Me Fade by K. Flay. Crawled into bed and wrote and read and wore Christmas pajamas.

I go home this weekend, and I can’t wait to wake up on Sunday morning. I want it to smell like bacon, even though I hate it, and I want to go on a bike ride and get Cooking Company and drive ten miles over the speed limit on Route 81.

 

It’s Hard to Romanticize a Sweaty Seventeen-Year-Old Boy Wearing $100 Green Dress Pants and a Navy Vineyard Vines Quarter-zip, But I Did It Anyway

       The first time I really fell in love with Connecticut was when I met my third boyfriend: exactly my height, wearing Vans sneakers with dress clothing, at a fencing tournament in a local shoreline town, eating a bagel. I have a tendency to rebel against the basic principles I believe in, and, at the time, I did not go near people who spoke in favor of Wall Streets and skewed tax brackets or Chris Christie being our next president, but he showed me what I was truly missing out on. It was time for me to change again. It was time to shed the confines of my pretentiously hippie-liberal skin that defined my previous relationship and find someone else… someone else’s (conservative) visions and (suppressed) emotions I could devote my time to while completing the busiest year of my high school career. Because I was “ready,” I said, and I wanted to commit.

       And you’re not even supposed to find people at fencing tournaments. Everyone is either extremely odd, a tri-season athlete filling their time, or smart and rich. The odd ones date the other odd ones or barely understand the basic concept of social interaction, the tri-season athletes are douchebags, and the smart and rich ones are either taken or douchebags or both. But it was so early in the fencing tournament season, and I was in denial. And he made the effort to eat the classic tournament waffles with me in the cafeteria, while all the freshman girls on my team watched and reviewed him out of five stars. He smelled really good, but he had a lot of games on his phone.

       I told people at my college orientation that I dated this fencer-turned-engineer and we went to New York City together all the time. That is so implausible. I barely worked when I dated him. I was so poor. He was the one who fronted the bill for Colony Grill and Wild Rice. That is also the thing. We dated for less than a month. But his staunchly white golf hats and terrible taste in movies awakened something in me: that Connecticut does not exist in the small-town vacuum I thought it does, that there is more to the left of New Haven than I thought.

       My parents do not allow me as much freedom as most kids have, and in order to see him, I took trains. I drove an hour in a car over many crumbling bridges once as my mom complained about the world stopping once you hit the Q bridge. I listened to When You Were Young by The Killers and New York City by Among Savages in romantic excess, feeling thIMG_8851e whoosh of the train pull away, back to my reality. It was so cold, and the layers of jacket coating my skin made me shiver with nostalgic anticipation, because I knew it would be short. I knew short replies and purely Snapchat would cause our affair to surface. It was cold in the way that my cheap faux-leather boots made my stockinged feet sweat on the red linoleum floors of the Metro North train I took through neighboring towns to get back to New Haven, and feel the quiet, humming disposition of the mirrored tunnels and tired people clunking their way up stairs and through Dunkin Donuts lines.

       In that blank time I had the opportunity to think. That maybe people only knew what they knew, and boys had nine girlfriends in one year for a reason. And maybe it only takes a few dates to really show someone what driving a nice car through a rich city dotted with bulbous trees and sandy parking lots feels like. And it takes one second to remember that while you sit there in his expensive car driving through million dollar real estate listening to Coldplay, kids are fashioning drug deals and gun exchanges in Bridgeport streets only a mile behind you, and that he doesn’t care and you want to. And it’s okay that he wears Vineyard Vines, and you’ll buy your own long sleeve from a pretentious boutique in Madison with that whale on the front pocket months from now.

       But it’s not okay to feel forced to watch Talladega Nights while giving a hand job, and no one should ever have to be ignored for hours straight in a sticky metal-scented high school gym, and hugs are not too much to ask for, ever, from anyone. Bronx style pizza is not the devil, food service people are nice and tired and deserve your respect, and your seventeen year old boyfriend does not know everything and will never. He will go to WPI and learn how to wear a hard hat and tell people who do actual work what to do; what he does best. And some day he will profit off of disaster if he uses his back-up plan, investing in medical supply companies that will eventually eradicate the Zika virus or whatever new plague that flourishes south of the equator because that is how the world works. And sometimes you have to walk through Fairfield to really understand Bridgeport, and it does not take much for East Haven to blend into New Haven, and you will remember this when you meet the next aloof one percenter with soft hair and a vague interest in internet memes: people miss out on you, and then they go to engineering school and hate math, because they hate themselves and ruin their skin bleaching grass-stained golf caps the wrong way and you don’t.