Sometimes I feel as though our language is terribly limited when I’m talking about relationships I have with certain people in my life. “Friend,” “Best Friend,” and “Lover” are so specific and restrictive that I can’t possibly be expected to put everyone I care about into one of those categories. There are some people in my life with whom I share a remarkably unique relationship. These people are “friends,” I suppose. But whenever the word leaves my mouth I feel like I’m doing them a disservice. They’re like blood. My constant in an ever changing world. For some reason the only term we seemed to have coined for those who are “more than friends” is some kind of romantic lover, which is not always the case. Usually not. For such highly evolved and intelligent beings, we sure love trying to squeeze everything into a tightly fitting box. But then I guess they exist so we have something to bust through.
This past week has been bizarre. Being my last full week in Philly before leaving for a semester abroad, I was anticipating a lot of goodbyes. I guess I hadn’t really dwelled on it too much because the program really only lasts four months and I’ll be back in the city before the semester here is even over. Yet as the week went by and I saw so many friends for the last time before my departure and payed final visits to various locations where I’ve become a regular, I had a number of unexpected emotional goodbyes. I don’t mean to over-dramatize this, in the great scheme of things it really is a very short time, but I think the last few days have showed me just how integrated into this city I’ve become. This place really feels like home and I feel so fortunate to have formed wonderful families of friends that I can’t imagine my life without. Being in a situation where I know I wont be able to see them for several consecutive months has really made that apparent. I haven’t bid farewells to my hometown friends yet, but I imagine they wont be too tearful. After we all went on our separate paths after high school and still find a way to exist in each others lives, I think goodbyes don’t seem as hard anymore. Those relationships have already stood the test of time and distance and hold a special place in my heart, irreplaceable by anyone. I’m looking forward to spending the next two weeks seeing the people I love and am eternally grateful for.
Once in high school my best friend, whom you see above, and I decided to show up at another friend’s house unannounced. Upon arriving there we found that she had stepped out so we waited in her bedroom. I don’t remember who first suggested it, but the two of us decided to hide in her closet and then jump out when she returned. The above photo was taken during our wait.
But you see, what makes this better than your average “jump out and scare the shit out of your friend” story is we took it one step further. After our friend entered her bedroom and sat down at her desk, the two of us sat still and silent for ONE HOUR. Now, after sitting in your bedroom for an hour on an otherwise quiet afternoon, I think most would confidently assume that they are in fact, alone. We finally threw open the closet doors and probably gave our friend the closest thing to a heart-attack that she has experienced to date. I fucking love my friends and still reminisce about this moment with them.
It’s my last night here in New Jersey before heading back to Philly in the morning for the Fall semester. I guess it would be my typical fashion to write a nostalgic piece about seasons ending and saying goodbye to loved ones. The fact of the matter though is I’m not feeling all that sentimental tonight. Of course there’s always that sadness when parting ways from childhood friends and leaving the comforts of your parents house, but as the years go by it gets easier to leave. The friends I have here now are the golden ones, the ones that have lasted, that I have grown with rather than apart from. Even though a number of us have separated geographically, our conversations always seem to pick up right where they left off.
Summers at the Jersey Shore have always been special to me. I would spend countless hours walking along the sand at night, contemplating whatever subject was making my heart heavy at the time. I wanted so badly for those days to last forever, but even that is getting easier to leave. I suppose it has to do with the place I am right now in my life. Philadelphia and everything there has become such a part of me that it’s strange to imagine a time when that wasn’t the case. I believe in all the things I’m working on - school, work, organizations, creative endeavors, relationships - in Philly and elsewhere, wholeheartedly. Thinking back on a time when I was unsure, that’s when it was scary. Scary to leave, to say goodbye, to perhaps return and find things completely different than how they once were. But I’ve come to welcome that change and recognize it as necessary growth. I couldn’t be more pleased or honored to experience that growth with the people I choose to spend my time with, and who choose to spend their time with me.
Now, look what I’ve done. I’ve gotten myself all nostalgic. And I haven’t even begun battening down the hatches for hurricane Irene.
Every time I come back to this place, I feel like it’s a new town. There are new restaurants, new stores, and new people. It’s crazy how fast things change during my absences. Tonight I caught up with a friend over coffee and talked well into the night about the current state of our lives. After leaving the coffee shop I drove around town awhile and passed by a few locations I spent so many days at as a kid, getting nostalgic about specific times. I even drove to my old high school parking spot and reminisced about peeling out of that spot at 2:53 every day with Underoath blaring through the speakers, trying to get out of that lot as fast as possible. It’s kind of sad to think about how far gone those days are, but it’s a good kind of sad. I am so fucking glad those days are over and am truly excited about the direction my life is headed now, but sometimes I think back to specific memories that I do miss. I guess it’s really just the people. The real talks and the laughter we shared. Of course I still experience those things, but in a different way. There’s something about sitting in the back of a jeep with the kids you’ve known since pre-school talking about the future that you just wont find anywhere else. This year is slinking by so slow, this town has watched me come and go.
- Whitney: I saw an episode of that show.
- Rachel: How was it?
- Whitney: It was pretty good. I mean, it's no Criminal Minds, but...
- Rachel: Right. Let's be real here.
I’m currently sitting in the Tech Center waiting for my video project to render. I could use this time to work on another assignment… but I’d rather blog about my spring break experience.
I flew down south with Rachel to visit Jim at Georgia Southern. The week consisted of adorable dogs, interesting characters, getting lost, and a lot of coco roos and mac n’ cheese. Rachel and I spent most of our days lounging around and enjoying the sun. Then at night we had the pleasure of meeting Jim’s awesome friends and doing some exploring. One night, we were even able to drive over to Savannah and catch my friend Koji on the Resolve Tour, which by the way has been stricken with some recent misfortune. Please read up on it here and support their endeavors!
I think the greatest part of the trip was really just seeing how Jim is living and has put down roots miles away from our hometown. Rachel and I had several heart-to-hearts this past week and talked about how so many of our childhood friends are finding their place in the world and what a beautiful thing it is to see. My hope is that as the years go by the distance doesn’t separate us, but rather brings us closer, putting in more effort to get together for holidays or just because. I rest easier knowing that my loved ones are happy and healthy. My heart is full this week.
Whenever I begin the commute back home after a night like tonight, I spend a lot of time reflecting. First on the fabulous time that I just had, then usually on the people it was had with, then how I came to know those people, and so on and so forth.
Earlier this year I started a project for school that I titled Finding Home. I interviewed several people on the things that make them feel most at home, when they’re away from home. My goal was to prove that “home” isn’t necessarily a physical location, but something we create with those around us. Honestly, at the time it was just something I thought up on the spot that fit the assignment. I didn’t think I would really get personally invested in it. However, here it is months later, and I find myself thinking about it a lot. Last night I drove around with friends that I painfully missed while at school, and had a wonderful night, but I think we could have been anywhere in the world and it would have been just as much fun. Tonight I was in an unfamiliar place, but surrounded by friends I love and couldn’t have felt more at home. Then sitting on the bus back to NJ, watching the world pass me by through the big square windows, I felt an overwhelming sense of comfort. There’s something about the open roads that make me feel content, and as long as I’m on the road, all is well with the world.
Maybe I think too much. I romanticize everything. But I’m okay with that.
By the way, if you ever have the opportunity to see this man perform, go without hesitation. I promise you will leave the show different than when you went in. I am humbled and appreciative to call Koji a friend of mine.