It wasn't until the fall of last year, at my friend Bethany's prompting, that I really started this blog in its current phase. And I love it. I love writing. I love taking photos. I love sharing the thoughts that consume me, the daily events that seem so simple but that I relish, the struggles, the joys, and I love hearing from the friends and family and occasional strangers who read this stuff. I love hearing how you think, and what's going on in your heads and your hearts, too. And I love the sense of a tiny community that can develop through a silly little blog. I feel connected to you in some small way. Like my own comfy front porch, open to the world.
For their 100th post, bloggers traditionally post 100 things about themselves. But I'm going to buck tradition. I'm going eclectic, because frankly 100 things is too much work. So I'm going to post 34 things about myself, one from each year of my life. I think I may regret this decision. I want to hear some of yours too, so maybe all together we'll get to 100.
34 Years of Bravely Obey:
1. I am born in Cape Girardeau, MO. Rush Limbaugh is also from Cape. This is a sad fact.
2. My parents are disowned by my father's family. This lasts for almost ten years. My dad and mom dared to move to Kansas City, leaving the family business in Sikeston. This is punishable by silence.
3. My brother is born and I am three and a half. I remember watching Planet of the Apes, pressed up against my mother's side on our bristly couch, while she feeds him. The light from the TV makes his pale blond hair glow.
4. My first bestest friend lives two blocks away. Our mothers watch us walk to school together, holding hands.
5. My room has glossy pink, green and yellow striped wallpaper. I sleep on a white canopy bed, with a pink bedspread. I am certain princesses sleep in the same bed as I do.
6. I win a coloring contest from Buster Brown Shoes. The prize is 4 pairs of shoes and two bicycles. Rainbow banana seat for me and sparkly blue for my brother. My mom still has my winning coloring sheet in her jewelry box.
8. Our class guinea pig has babies. I am giddy when I have the privilege of taking them home for the weekend. They are so dirty and smelly by the end of the weekend that my mom has to help me bathe them in the bathroom sink. So many squeaking, squirmy little bodies. Suave shampoo does the trick. They smell like strawberries after.
9. We move, only five miles away but a different state and school. I like 4th grade. On my first day, my nemesis tells me my favorite sweater is ugly. She is mean for the next 8 years. Last I heard she works as a sales clerk at a Banana Republic.
10. I am in my first play with a speaking part. On stage I am terrified and alive. I can make people laugh. I am playing a singing, dancing dragon. This will be the first of many roles. I am the tallest girl in school.
11. I have a crush on Eric who lives in the house behind ours. He has red hair and a crooked front tooth. He falls off our swing set, lands on his back and can't speak. I'm certain he is dead. I burst into tears. He just has the wind knocked out of him. Later he kisses me on the cheek.
12.I sneak into my parent's closet and swipe my mother's romance novels. I read them at night with a flashlight under my covers. They are confusing and intense and thrilling.
13. My parents separate. I tell my friend Yvette the next day, as we jog in circles around the gym. She looks at me wide eyed, unsure of what to say. So am I.
14. Freshman year. I don't want to get out of bed. Home is a mess, family is a mess. I am a reflection of this mess. The laundry has piled so high in our basement that my grandmother takes trash bags of it home with her to wash for us.
15. I have a bedroom wall covered with pictures cut from magazines, boys, boys, boys. This year is better. I smoke Marlboro Light 100's with my friends in parking lots and strange college guys' apartments. And then go home and watch Mary Poppins with my brother. This is teen life in the suburbs.
16. My dad takes me and my friends to see U2 on their Achtung Baby tour. It is the best concert in the history of my world. I feel I will never love a band as much as I love U2. This will change with their next album.
17. I am madly in love. I get my heart broken for the first time. I will graduate soon. I want to be a journalist or an actress or a professor or a writer or a I have no idea. I just want to move out and yet I am petrified to be on my own.
18. Playing Trivial Pursuit down the hall with my coed dorm mates, I get drunk on Wild Island Boone's Farm. My teammate is Ben, Asian-American ROTC student, 6' 2", and two years older than me. He doesn't drink and helps get me back to my room after. I am giddy with our triumphant win. His lips are soft and he has no hair on his arms.
19. My grandmother dies of cancer. She is at home surrounded by family. I leave RA training at KU to return home for her funeral. I am devastated and certain that the heart of our family is gone.
20. As an RA, I observe a totally nude girl eating a burrito while perched on a radiator in the communal bathroom. She doesn't even live here.
21. I go sailing with my dad. It is a late summer evening and getting dark I steer the boat into our slip, we are going a little too quickly. Dad jumps off, grabs hold of the boat with one hand and the dock with the other, trying to slow the boat before it hits the end of the slip. His bicep muscle snaps. I hear it pop. He has to have major surgery to reattach it. I don't sail the boat again for a long time.
22. I am dating my best friend, Joe. He is smart. He reads, he's curious about the world. He loves art and architecture. He could eat macaroni and cheese everyday. He has wavy dark hair and a sarcastic mouth. I can tell him anything. He is funny. I want to spend every moment with him. We go back and forth between dating and just being friends. This goes on for awhile.
23. Africa. I spend July traveling all over the Ivory Coast with an art history class. It erases my desire to join the Peace Corps, yet easily the most amazing travel experience of my life.
24. I move to Philadelphia. Joe and I share a very long, skinny, non air-conditioned apartment over the shop where he works. I work as a foster care social worker. It is a brutal, difficult, enlightening job. The areas where I work in Philadelphia look like war zones. Evidently I pronounce "car" and "Barbara" funny, according to my foster care kids.
25. We spend two weeks in Stone Harbor, NJ. I am a real Philly resident now, heading to the shore with Joe's Aunt Suzy and her family. Sun, reading, The Ugly Mug, Carmen's, mini-golf, walking to Springer's, sleeping in and lazing around on the beach, it's a perfect vacation and we are moving back to Kansas City in one month.
26. Outside, under a huge tree covered in twinkly lights, with 130 of our favorite people, Joe and I get married. It is the single best day of my life, so far.
28. I have the second panic attack of my life, staring at the stack of mortgage papers we are about to sign. "What if the house floods? What if I want to move to Fiji? What if we get divorced?" I am not normally a commitment phobic person. Joe is the picture of calm. This feeling passes and I breathe again.
29. I am sitting on the floor surrounded by eight layers of peeled wallpaper. I am a home owner. I loathe it and love it. The paradox hurts my paint fume filled brain. But we have a yard, so we put a cute guard dog in it.
30. I turn 29 again. This time with lots of friends and family and mango rum drinks. I end the evening standing in the kitchen, my brother-in-law and I taking bites directly off of the enormous birthday carrot cake.
31. We host our first Thanksgiving in our own house. Lots of relatives come to town including Dave, Joe's cousin, who shaved his chest hair into a heart shape. This is the only photo we have from Thanksgiving. Isn't that odd?
32. Joe and I, along with our good friend Tara, embark on a fabulous trip to Italy. Somehow we end up iced and snowed in in Philadelphia, endure a death defying cab ride, Tara accidentally attempts to kill Joe's grandparents' dog and we end up driving back to KC.
Joe and I in Rome, just a couple of weeks later.
33. I find myself working in the nonprofit world again. I feel like I've come home. I think this job was made for me.
34. Today I bought tickets to see Modest Mouse with Joe in July, working on #21 on the list! I am excited, really, really excited. I will commence listening to nothing but Modest Mouse for the next three days. Oh, and I got a purple pedicure. I like 34.