Less Than Seven Days

I found out I was adopted when I was about the age of a preschooler. According to my mom, I had a friend whose mom was pregnant, and I had learned all about how “babies live in their mommy’s tummies.” My mom sat me down and explained that even though some other lady had carried me around in her stomach, she and my dad were my parents. Apparently, this idea that some other lady was the one that carried me around intrigued me, because I began to see women on the tv and around town and would ask my mom if that was the lady she had told me about (Aretha Franklin was even discussed at one point).

As I grew up, I dreamed that my biological family was royalty or somehow famous. I dreamed of the day that they’d find me, saying it was all a mistake, and wanting to integrate me into their wonderful lives. I think that’s probably a very common fantasy for children of adoption, reinforced by stories like Anastasia and The Princess Diaries, that there’s a possibility of a secret royal family. One of my favorite books in late elementary school was called The Face on the Milk Carton, a story about a girl who finds out she wasn’t the adopted granddaughter that her parents believed her to be, but a girl who was kidnapped. She eventually goes on to meet and get to know her biological family in the following books in the series, but that was the first time I really thought about the fact that there might be people out in the world who actually looked similarly to myself.

At 18, when I finally saw a picture of my biological mother and read her first words to me, I became fixated on my hands. My hands apparently looked like her hands when I was an infant, and I constantly wondered what other similarities we might have. In her photo, she was wearing a facial expression incredibly similar to one I make on a regular basis. Until that moment, I had dreamed about finding someone who I looked like, and there I was, staring at a lady who shared the same half-smile I made all the time. That was a moment of clarity that I think will always stick with me. I can still close my eyes and visualize the entire thing. It happened in a matter of moments, but it feels like it could go on forever.

From 18 to 23, I used the birth information I got from the state of Alaska to search for my birth mother at least once every six months. I don’t think there’s a single database used for finding people that I didn’t use. I even toyed around with the idea of hiring a private investigator, but what 23-year-old can really afford that? Four months before I turned 24, when I finally found some of my biological family, I thought I would find some sort of inner peace. A rest. Something that felt like the search was over. I emailed back and forth with my birth mom, got to know the family a bit better, but there was so much left unanswered. When I went to Alaska last year, I thought I might get to do a little more research into my history, but things didn’t work out quite as planned.

This week, it all comes to a head. This week, I meet them. I meet my mother, her family, and some of my aunts and uncles. This is what I’ve been wondering about and searching for for almost 22 years. But the last few days have been almost overwhelming. I’m caught between excitement and nervousness. I’ve wanted this for so long, but I don’t want to build up all these ideas in my head. I feel like I already know some of them pretty well, thanks to the magic of social media, but there’s just something about meeting people face to face for the first time. There’s a fine line between expecting too little and expecting too much. I keep trying not to get overwhelmed, but this is just something I’ve made up scenarios in my head about for years, so it’s incredibly difficult to clear out those expectations.

As my flight creeps closer and closer, I’m trying to prepare myself for “just another trip”. It’s just another adventure. I’ve had tons of these in the last year or so. I’ve gone places and seen things I wouldn’t have believed possible two years ago. And if it’s one thing I’ve learned from this family so far, they love each other fiercely. That’s the start to something good.

Niederrad, Germany- October 2014
Niederrad, Germany- October 2014

listening to: Portugal. The Man

Fight or Flight

When faced with confrontation, people tend to fall into one of two categories. They either run from it or they stay and fight.

I’m a runner.

I run from fights. I run from people. I run from lies. I run from any uncomfortable situation imaginable when given the chance.

I’m not here to say that either way is right or wrong. I think both reactions can be better for certain situations, but it’s a very rare instance that I’ll stay and fight when I have the chance to escape.

I’ve written lately about some of the struggles I’ve been facing, but I think a big part of my tiredness is just a sense of restlessness. A feeling of containment and loss of adventure. I don’t want to say it’s still a culture shock type of thing, because I’ve been back in the states for four and a half months, but I think it’s more of a “I’m back in this massive country and the sense of newness and exploration has disappeared.” I know that’s probably not a very healthy way of looking at life, but more than just wanting to see new places, it’s become a craving. It’s becoming this way to quench a thirst in my soul.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, maybe it’s perfect timing, or maybe it’s just because I have some friends who can relate to this feeling more than most, but I recently got offered a chance to go on a week-long trip. This family that I grew up with in Alaska offered to take me with them on a cruise that will make stops in three different countries next week.

Of course I accepted the offer. How could I not accept an offer like that? It’s one of the most selfless gifts I can remember being given in recent history. It gives me a chance to breathe, to relax, to emotionally and mentally recover from whatever I’ve been pushing myself through lately. Most importantly, it’ll give me quite a lot of down time without outside distractions to write and meditate and get back into my right mind.

Back to the fight vs flight conundrum. I feel like this cruise might be a bit of a way for me to escape and avoid some of the conflicts that have been building up or have already happened. If I’m being completely honest, I’m looking forward to the running away. I’m eager to escape from my reality for eight short days. I want a chance to block out all responsibility and accountability that seems to be consistently beating down my door. I want to get back to being fully me without any of the nonsense I’ve been bringing on myself lately.

Obviously, I know that running away for a week doesn’t fix the major problems. I know that running forever doesn’t fix anything in the long run. This is why I’ve stopped permanently escaping for the most part. I do face things and deal with problems now when absolutely necessary.

However, I wait. I breathe. I think. I recover. And then I deal.

Lago di Lugano- Paridiso, Lugano, Switzerland
Lago di Lugano- Paridiso, Lugano, Switzerland

listening to: Mat Kearney, Hushpuppies

Not Quite Resolutions

I’ve never been one for New Years resolutions. In fact, I can’t remember a single year when I sat down and thought to myself, “this is the year that I accomplish this one big thing I’ve been meaning to do.” I have goals and wishes for the year, but it’s not quite the same thing as a resolution.

One goal I’ve made for myself in the past few months is to experience at least one new place a year. Ideally, this would be a new country and a completely different culture, but as I’m trying to be more financially responsible with my life, visiting a new country this year doesn’t seem quite feasible.

A couple weeks ago, I made a big decision. As I’ve written about before, I’m adopted. It’s part of my identity that I’m extremely enthralled by, and I want to learn as much about my past as possible. At the end of June of this year, I’ll be flying up to Washington to finally meet some of my biological family. While this isn’t a new country, it is completely out of my comfort zone, and it’s a trip that will undoubtedly be cause for a massive spike of growth in my life. However, it does occur to me that since I’ll be so close to the Canadian border, I might still be able to cross off another country visited on my list if I figure out a way to make a day trip up to Canada.

This is quite possibly one of the most intimidating steps that I’ll have taken in my life thus far. Meeting my family has always been a dream of mine and after finding them a year and a half ago, that dream has just gotten stronger. My plans to move to Alaska fell through and I found myself with more than enough air miles for a roundtrip flight within the continental US, so I jumped at the chance to scratch something else off of my bucket list.

I’m mostly going to be visiting and getting to know my aunt who was only 10 when I was born. She and I have several things in common, and there isn’t a very big age difference, so I’m very interested to see how we interact in person. It would be a dream come true to meet my other aunt, uncles, and especially my biological mother, but seeing as I haven’t heard from her in over a year, I don’t have high hopes. This will be a great first step in learning about where I come from, so I’m grateful for that more than I can figure out how to put into words at the moment.

This might be a bit strange to admit, but I’m also excited about this visit because I feel like it’ll be a perfect addition to the book on adoption I’m working on. The strange part is this: ever since I’ve started this blog, I’ve noticed that I’ve started to live my life in a way that would make a great story. I’ve always said that at the end of my life, I want to have lived a life full of interesting stories, but it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve begun to intentionally make decisions that will lead my life down an interesting path of growth and change.

As my trip creeps closer and closer, I have a feeling I will equally become more excited and nervous. I am happy that I’m pushing myself further and further out of my comfort zone and that protective bubble I allowed myself to live in for so long. After all, change only happens when you make yourself just a bit uncomfortable.

Potter's Marsh, Anchorage, AK - August 2014
Potter’s Marsh, Anchorage, AK – August 2014

listening to: Young the Giant

Transition Time

It’s already been three weeks since I left Germany, and I can’t believe the weeks have gone by so quickly. I’ve been so busy that all of this writing has kinda taken a back seat, but I’m trying to figure out a way to schedule my time better to get all of my thoughts out.

I think that the time period of adjusting back to a way of living you were once accustomed to, but had changed, is a very interesting one. I’ve picked habits and behaviors back up without really being aware of why I’m doing them. The way I eat, sleeping routines, and my attitude all had slight shifts while I was in Germany, and part of me is almost worried that those changes I made will disappear completely if I don’t make a very conscious effort to keep them around.

A little rundown of what all has happened in the past three weeks is probably a good way to continue this post. I find that when I stop writing for a while, the first thing I hit “publish” on can be a little robotic and awkward in the sense that I’m trying to rediscover my voice.

I flew back into the states on October 15. I only spent a little over 12 hours outside of the airport because the next morning, I flew from Texas to New York to see Damien Rice on the end of his American tour for his new album. I’ve never flown anywhere for a concert before, so that by itself was an exciting experience, but the fact that I got to go with one of my closest friends from high school and stay with another friend while we were up there put the trip at an entirely different level. We only spent two nights in the city and flew back to Texas on Saturday morning, but it was a trip I’m not likely to forget anytime soon. Shameless plug: if you want to see some of the photos I took while up there, make sure to be following my InstagramWe did the entire trip very cheaply, because cheap trips are quickly becoming my speciality, so I’ll be trying to break down everything like I did for my Paris trip.

I had one day at home with my parents before my mom and I drove eight hours west on I-20 through Texas to visit her side of the family. It had been almost a year since I had seen all of them, and my grandmother hasn’t been in the best state of health this year, so it was really important to visit while I had some free time. There were multiple choir concerts attended, hugs for days, and even an incident involving my mom and aunt embarrassing me by having me sing an impromptu song at the nursing home for my grandmother. It was a fun trip, and I think what I needed to help with the adjustment process of living in Texas again.

Coming back to Texas meant one major thing: finding a job was the necessary next step. Lucky for me, I have plenty of friends still in the area and two days after spending time with some of those friends, I got hired to be a server at one of the local hibachi restaurants in town. I’ve never worked as a server or really in any sort of food service job, unless you count my first summer job at a snow cone stand, so it’s been an interesting transition into this kind of work. The hours are the complete opposite of what I’ve spent the last 10 months working, but the late nights suit me much better than early mornings. I keep telling myself that there are all sorts of lessons and experiences to be learned from a serving job, so it’ll be interesting to reflect on those once I’ve had a little more exposure in this field.

Cotton fields and wind turbines- West Texas
Cotton fields and wind turbines- West Texas

Bucket Listing (A Rambleblog)

I’ve wanted to sit down and write all day, but I feel like my mind has just been all over the place. Most likely, it has something to do with the fact that the family I work for left on holiday earlier today, I’m moving back to the states next Wednesday, and will be in NYC the day after that. There will be some long Texas road trips following all of those travels, and I think there are just so many plans going on that my brain has gone into overdrive. In an effort to get all of my thoughts back into some sort of working order, I’m just going to type and see what happens, so this could be one of those rambling posts that might go on for a while or just end within the next 100 words or so.

I’ve been thinking about bucket lists a lot lately. I wrote a list up when I was 15 or 16, and while it included some things like “get my ears pierced a second time” and “be kissed”, it also had bigger things on it such as “move back to Alaska” and “visit other countries”. This list was in a journal that I called The Book, and I still have it in a keepsake box with some other sentimentally important items. As I did things on the list, I checked them off and wrote the date next to the item. Recently, I’ve been wanting to write up a new list, a more comprehensive list, that lists some very specific items that better encompasses the person I’ve become and the person I’m still becoming.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t until the past couple of years that I really started to enjoy it and find my voice. I’ve already talked about the biggest project I hope to tackle in my life, but I’d also like to write some long piece of fiction and, if possible, a song as well. I want to learn another instrument, which I’ll hopefully get to start working on while in Texas. I want to live in another country for at least a full year, becoming completely immersed in the culture, and leave everything behind for long-term world traveling at least once.

Part of me wants to do these things because I want to prove to myself (and if I’m completely honest, other people as well) that I can come back from that darkness I was submerged in as a new, more interesting, and independent person. In my mind, I know I’ve already surpassed any expectations by leaps and bounds, but I don’t want to become comfortable where I am. I want to be constantly pushing the boundaries to see what all I can truly handle. At the end of my life, I want to have stories upon stories involving adventure, love, and victory.

I’ve been on another quote kick on pinterest, so I think this is where all of my “where do I want my life to go” rambling is coming from. I could write posts for weeks based on single quotes I read, but one that has been sticking out to me is “your life unfolds in proportion to your courage,” and I think it’s beautiful because the message is so simple. If you want exciting things to happen in your life, you have to be brave enough to welcome change and the uncomfortable moments. If you are constantly comfortable, you’re going to stay where you are and never grow into the person you could be. Be courages. Grow

Frankfurt, Germany- September 2014
Frankfurt, Germany- September 2014

listening to: alt-J