Ahh, right. The nostalgia factor. I am good at that. I do remember dates, and days of the week, months, years, things people said to me, the seasons of my life. I do remember all of those things quite well.
I remember exactly what I was doing last year on February 11th. It was a Saturday, I had just worked a 9-5 shift at East Holly Starbucks, a thing I hadn't done for six months. It was my first day back with my company, and the first shift back at my old store, and the first weekend I was back in Bellingham. Last February, I worked every day of the month. I worked five days a week at the office I was working at in Seattle, and I worked weekends at East Holly Starbucks, transitioning slowly, but surely back into my hometown. My happy places were all still in place: "the guys'" house, my store, Boulevard, the Little Cheerful. Everything was just as I left it, save a few new baristas at the store that I didn't really have the chance to meet on my first day back. The customers were the same. I hugged so many people that day. I think I cried. I worked all day with one of my favorite golden haired angels, and we went for margaritas with that feisty, brilliant, handsome man I bickered with so much the first time I worked at the store. The one who surprisingly (not to him, I'm sure) held me together during my move back to Bellingham.
And the people who matter are never out of your life, truly.
My ex-boyfriend had just broken up with me, but the two of us were still very much in transition. I didn't go a whole day without talking to him in one form or another, and "coincidentally" he was moving back up north, as well, so I stayed with him a few times that month, discussing shit we should have worked through while we were actually dating, and spending far too much intimate time together considering he was my "ex" boyfriend.
I was a mess last February. I started falling back in love with one of my Life's Big Loves while I was trying to fall out of love with the other one. I was working two jobs in two different cities. I was trying to move the few belongings I had up to my new Bellingham apartment while cleaning my old Seattle apartment. I was meeting all of my new coworkers and reuniting with my old ones. I was unsure about my decision to move back here, to work for Starbucks again, to "regress" fully in my life. I made the worst decisions in forms of pot brownies, sleeping with exes, sleeping with best friends, drinking far too much cheap beer and well liquors, haphazardly moving into an apartment with someone I barely knew who would no longer be dating one of my best friends very shortly after we signed the lease.
You know what I was last February? 24 years old. That is really all it was. When I advise girls younger than I am, especially in ten years when I will be a lot more emotionally, financially, and mentally stable (RIGHT?!), I will reference February (through September) 2012 as my Greatest Learning Experience. I have no regrets.
At the end of November 2012, I was finally happy about my choice to move back to Bellingham. All of my former negative Bellingham ties had been cut. Work looked so much different than the first time I was a shift supervisor with the company. My living situation, though not ideal, felt like home because I live with a girl I love like a sister. I had lost all of the weight I had gained since moving back to Bellingham and not taking care of myself at all. I looked, felt, and actually, genuinely was happier.
It took quite some time for me to say that, but I have been reflecting all month. I have never been happier than I am at this moment in my life.
No, I am actually not dating anyone, but I have strong feelings of love for plenty of people, and yes maybe one of them is the aforementioned brilliantly talented pain in my neck that I adore so much. Yeah, sure I still live in a shitty college apartment that I pay way too much for, but if I barely raise my voice to yell across the hall, the response I get comes from that same girl I love like a sister, so this place still feels warm when it is cold outside. Yeah, I am "still" a shift supervisor at Starbucks, but I just spent the morning helping one of the best dudes I know with a paper he is writing on race.
And sitting here right now, February 11, 2013, ours is one of my very favorite relationships I have ever had in my life. He is none of the things I thought he was (well, he is white), and I have learned not to stereotype, not to assume. I love talking to him, learning through him, and in turn, teaching him "my side" of growing up. Open-mindedness! Who knew that was a thing I was capable of?
Walking out of the store with my boy, I said hello to five people by name, and realized I didn't even feel like I was "at work," I just felt like a part of my community. My job allows me to be a part of one of the most heartwarming communities I can imagine. I used to say I was a "big city girl," but I had no idea how small town I could really get. I love feeling comfortable enough to walk into a bar or a restaurant completely alone because I know I will know at least someone there. I love time spent alone writing or reading in various other coffee shops because I feel comfortable anywhere in this little town. I love being in Bellingham, so much so that I genuinely think I might never leave.
...I mean, I have that New York City urge in me still. The Carrie Bradshaw-ness is still very much a thing.
Being back at East Holly feels like coming home for Christmas.
Being home is my sunshine on a cloudy day, and my home has a lot of those, so.
Which is fun. :)