Boy Bye, 2017!

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This year is quickly coming to a close, already it is like 2018 is literally knocking on our door so now it is the time when everyone starts to think what will the new year be like. What will I change? What resolutions will I make and then with any luck be able to keep past the third week of January? But this post is not about the future it is about the other thing we do at this time of year, we start to look back, reflect on what has happened in 2017, how are we different from the time we did this in 2016, what has shaped the way we see the world this year.

For me, this year was a year of major life change, we moved across the country, from the bustling, growing city of Denver to a TINY town in the mountains, when I say tiny I mean 300 year-round residents. So you work with the people that are your friends, your boss is married to your husbands boss (that is real life) and everything feels a little more connected. But it can also feel a little more isolated, and not just because the closest grocery store is an hour and a half away. No, it can feel a little isolating because even though in theory you should be surrounded by your 300 closest friends, sometimes you are not.

Now, I am not saying tiny towns don’t lend to the best friendships because I am finding that, that just might be the case. But I am in a town where everyone has pretty similar beliefs and similar upbringings so I often feel like I am putting on a contrived act of myself, not truly allowing all of me to show because it is a stark contrast to those around me, and not even realizing that I haven’t truly laughed in months. I believe many of the same things as those here, but definitely not all the same things, and I had an upbringing where those beliefs were not the only choice, I was free to find out what I believed in on my own. And I will be forever grateful for that.

So this year has been a lot of me finding myself and my footing what does it mean to be myself here, and who can I truly be myself with? It has been a lot of cringing at the news and praying for the state of our country. It has been a lot of tears over the gutting of education, health care, taxes, the lives of the dreamers, and so many other things I held dear.

This year has been full of weeks of longing to be anywhere but this small town, and then random moments of heartfelt gratitude for the place where we are and the people that surround us. It has been learning to dive into new friendships without reserve and finding the joy in old friends. It has been watching old friends go through new phases of life, some joyful like engagements and then some hard, like telling their parents they are in love with a woman when they are in fact also a woman.

And then the other night something happened that made me so grateful that we are in this place for another year, looking forward to 2018. The other night, a set of new friends invited us over for dinner with a group of people, it was like taking a deep breath after being underwater. I knew the minute she said #thefutureisfemale that I could relax a little more, I could shake off that contrived act and start to be myself. My soul that I hadn’t even realized was depleted began to be filled, in simple interactions it was revived and I thought if these friendships are what 2018 will be like, bring it on. Because in one night of soul filling I was able to reflect, love and realize what 2017 had been missing.

I hope that your 2017 has been filled with soul-filling, I hope that 2018 is filled with a renewed hope in America, in myself and in the people around me. I am ready, bring it on 2018 because in case you didn’t know #thefutureisfemale and that means the future is me, the future is now!

-Rae

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We’re like a really small gang.

 

Do you have any friends that are your family? They are the people you turn to when you need it, they are the people who would adopt your child if you ever died?

Well I grew up and those people those friends were truly my family, my mom had a group of best friends that when asked, or I had an assignment on family I always chose them. They were the people we spent Thanksgiving with, they were the people I could count on to be at my volleyball games, my recitals, ALL my graduations, Kindergarten, 5th, 8th, high school, undergrad and graduate school). They were always there and when I asked as a child if something happened to my mom where I would live, it was with them.

This is what I always dreamed of growing up, the family that I chose and the people who are in my life not because they have to be biologically but because they chose to be, And honestly it happened. It college I met a group of girls that are more family than anything, we have been friends for almost 10 years now and this year we are even spending Friendsgiving together on real Thanksgiving, we have been there for all of the weddings, and proposals we have celebrated moves, jobs and college graduations and probably soon someone in the group will welcome the gangs first baby. We all live spread among the West Coast.

But we have also been experiencing growing pains as we grow up, we all met when we were in college, none of us married, most of us single and we had all the time in the world to spend together. We lived life in community spending most of our nights together on the couch and most of our days drinking mimosas and eating pancakes (okay that was only Sunday’s but we loved those mimosas) And we only had to worry about passing our classes and having enough money to make rent and pay for the aforementioned mimosas.  We developed our own way of communicated a fast paced- snarky- love filled style of speaking that our husbands still have a hard time keeping up with.

So what does that look like for us now? How can we keep the same level of intimacy with each other as our significant others become our best friends and 1,000 miles separate us? Well you know I am learning that its more than possible it is beautiful. You have to intentionally make the time to talk to each other, you have to share the things that happened in your life when they no longer are just home when you get home to share them with. And then what happens when you are all together again? When you suddenly move 15 minutes away and you have to remember how to speak in that snarky language all over again. There are growing pains in that too, growing pains in living in proximity to the ones you love too, you have to learn how to share your life again and give up some of your independence to those around you all over again…. Now next we will see what happens when the next life stage changes for us, we have grown together from the singleness of college to being married or engaged, and we will learn how to grow together through babies, and all the things that come with that. Because we are our small gang.

 

Now over the last year or so there have been a lot of changes to the make-up of this family, see one of the best things about a friends family is that they choose to be in your life, but one of the problems with a friends family is just that, they choose to be in your life. So they can also choose not to be in your life. ( not that blood family can’t also make that choice, exhibit A- 85% of my blood relatives, including my Dad) but with friends family it can be a simple quick decision there isn’t the rest of the family bugging them to join the family holiday parties, one day they are just gone. And with my moms Friend Family that is exactly what they all decided this last year. The woman I called my second mom, and the man who walked me down the aisle are no longer a part of my life for the most part because they are no longer a part of my moms life. And like honestly it feels a little bit like my parents got a divorce.

My mom and Sue were like a really small gang, they had been friends for 30 years they had helped each others kids grow and my mom had helped Sue bury her son. They had been together when Sue’s husband went off to war, twice. And celebrated each time he came home. We celebrated all of my thanksgivings together and most of the Christmas’s but now that really small gang has broken up.

 

So is it possible to have lifetime friends? Can you really achieve the goal of having a family that you choose and not one by blood? I sure hope so we will see, I still have hope that my “divorced parents” will speak again someday. I have hope that you can navigate all the changes of life with the same close group of friends, I have hope that all of the sitcoms ever (How I met your Mother, Friends, One Tree Hill, etc) were not lying to me and I can have my friend family! Because right now there isn’t any other way I would want it to be.

 

 

The Legacy of the Wolves

Once in college someone said that hanging out with me and one of my best friends was like hanging out with a pack of wolves. IE we chewed you up cause we were so mean. We laughed it off and made a joke about it then, that was probably 5 years ago now, but lately as I am trying to make new friends in the adult world I am thinking about that statement a lot and how it has actually impacted the way I look at myself and my interactions with the world.

I was that girl that when people introduced you to me they would say, She’s is kind of feisty, sassy, loud, bitchy. . . insert sort of offensive word but made to sound nice here. And when I was with my close group of friends I could laugh that off, and kind of play it up. Like yes I am pretty honest, and sometimes sassy but I think I am love able and you will appreciate me for it, and if you don’t well I have this tight group of friends that will. But as we grow up and that group of friends moves away or moves on . . . I am left being that “bitchy” girl that believes she doesn’t deserve friends.

Why would anyone want to be my friend if I am like a pack of wolves, essentially a wolf without her wolf pack. . it is just me and that doesn’t make me a wolf pack that makes me a bitch. And so I find myself making myself small, quiet, reserved so that I don’t offend people and make them not want to be my friend. Gone is the girl that was honest almost to a fault and here is a girl who hides herself and true feelings from almost everyone in her life.

I find myself so desperate to have friendships but then when someone likes me I feel empty because I can never truly be myself or I will go right back to that sassy black friend that you have to explain away to your friends.

I went to visit my best friends recently and met their friends in their new city, and this is how they explained me once again before I even met these people as a feisty girl, but why? Were you preparing them that I may be rude and unpredicatble? That I may say something and to not take me to seriously because I am feisty.

I don’t want to always be the feisty girl the girl that “Is a bitch but you’ll get used to it” I just want to be someone that is worthy enough to be loved for who she is. . someone that is confident enough again to be open and honest and still expect people to want to be my friend at the end. . .

Friendsgiving . .. this is how family is made

So last Sunday, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, we did our friendsigiving, which I know for many people takes many different forms, this could be a party after the family thanksgiving, an excuse to get drunk really at any time. But for us, it involves the 6 of us getting together and having a true thanksgiving meal and then having our annual ginger bread house competition. Which you are welcome to vote in. . . FullSizeRender

In order not to sway your opinion I will not tell you which one was ours. .. but needless to say we won.

In a way Friendsgiving is all I have ever had, my thanksgiving is not a large family gathering, my family does not gather in that way, my mom and I are the only members of our family for over 1000 miles and no one really puts in the effort to come see us, given we have stopped putting in the effort to go see them as well. But thanksgiving has always been a hodge podge of about 4 families my mom became friends with in her early 20’s as these friends, got married, had children and at this point, as their children are having children the gathering as grown from about 6 to over 20.

And has become my favorite day of the year. I long for the loud political discussions, where no one agrees. The potluck style meal in which we have all been bringing the same pieces of the glorious meal for as long as I can remember. And since my mom hates to cook this means we bring olives and pickles to eat before the meal. But this is what I look forward to, none of the awkward forced family relationships, well at least minimally. We all want to be there. And when asked about my family, these are the people I discuss. When writing family narratives in college these were the people that filled so many pages. And in August when I get married, one of these men will be the man to walk me down the aisle and give me away. Maybe more traditionally since my father is not in the picture this would have been done by an Uncle. but this man is as close to a father as I have ever had and if that isn’t family then I am not sure what is.

On Sunday, I began wondering if this is what their first thanksgiving’s together were like, a gathering to share in friendship and give thanks for the people we choose to have in our lives, that God has placed there so that we can make our own family. And I hope they were I hope that the beautiful gathering I hold so dear grew from something this simple. Because then I can imagine in 20 years, when we all have growing children we can still be gathered around a table, in a family home and not an cramped 1 bedroom apartment like we are now. But as we sip wine and watch the children make the gingerbread houses we can think back on the simplicity of how this day began. And remember the days over the years, where Friendsgiving became a day we cherish, where Friendsgiving became a day for family. . .

❤ Kelsi Rae