I have been doing a lot of reflection lately - thinking back on how I was as a kid, high schooler, college student and how I am now. I have been weighing on past relationships and what they have meant to me, and what my new relationships are now. The past always seems to be so much more powerful than the present and the future. It's much more concrete in my mind - because it already happened.
My most nostalgic moments, the ones that make my eyes swell, are the ones on my grandparents' farm. It no longer exists except in a memory formed through my childhood eyes. It was where grandma took me out to catch night crawlers with a flashlight and an old yogurt container. Where grandpa took me around on his tall shoulders, and let me help him with his chores. Where I learned to be meticulous, play bridge, shoot pool, bait a hook and ride a horse. Where my cousins and I put on performances, and played hide-n-seek over acres and acres of land. Where love was in every inch of every wall, and in every blade of freshly cut grass. And it was where I took in more than I could ever realize at age 5.
I was a kid. On the best playground in the world. Carefree, adventurous, curious and daring.
Then the day came where grandpa's memory started to fade. When he started to forget our names. His possessions were auctioned off, the farm was sold, and my childhood came to an end.
My first day of high school, I went in arm and arm with my life-long best friend. We played soccer together, we gossiped together and we laughed together. We bought matching outfits, and combined our names. We were one in the same.
I knew I wasn't alone in the world with her by my side. I was shyer then, trying to find out who I wanted to be, yet afraid of what people thought. She was happy-go-lucky, outgoing and care-free.
Then somewhere down the road, she became a cheerleader and I stayed on the soccer team. We didn't share our gossip, and our inside jokes became faded memories. We became our own people.
I started to care less about what people thought, I went skydiving, made new friends, joined clubs and pursued my love for art.
And then, I met a boy. Someone who stole me with his glance, and we fell in love. We wrote notes, decorated each others cars and found cute ways to celebrate each month of our anniversary. One of those anniversaries, I took him to a dock where I had 10 balloons. 5 for each of us. And a paper and pen to write down our wishes. All of my wishes made it up into the sky - except one. The one that said we would be together forever.
When I got to college, I realized why that balloon popped. There wasn't a big fight, someone else or any concrete reason for the break up, and I think that's why it was so hard. I just had this feeling that I couldn't let go of: That we needed to discover who we were going to be without each other.
In college, I met life-long friends, found my passions and pushed to be the best in my class. I kept my competitive edge from soccer, and pushed my curiosity. I experienced cities, people from all walks of life and realized the importance of family. And when I graduated in 2009, I got a job.
I hated my first job. But I met some really important people while I was there. My life/business partner, and a new love. A boy that had something special about him that stood out. He was successful and smart, laid back and confident, and thoughtful and kind.
Part of me has never been truly able to let go of my first love - even when I started dating new people. But this new guy, he had something that I still haven't been able to put my finger on. Something that is so easy and effortless.
I would be lying if I said I didn't compare him to the love I felt in the past. Just like I compare my current self to how I was as a kid, and new friendships to old. I still struggle with where I am and where I want to be. Which has lead me to focus back on all of these places, times and people that have shaped me to this point in my life.
What I have realized is that the the farm is me. It's my wonder, adventures and meticulous nature. It's home, love and family. And it's shaped how and why I make the choices I make. My long-lost friend is growth and confidence - realizing life's stages and treasuring them for what they are. And my first love is all of my inner battles. Reality against imagination. Making decisions over choosing fate. Settling versus pushing for more. And weighing the potential rewards and losses of risk against the comfort how things are.
And where I am now, and where I will be in the future, has all been shaped by a beautiful past. And something shaped by beauty, can only be beautiful.