Monday, September 1, 2014

Thank you.

Last weekend, the day before my 28th birthday, one of my best friends in the world got married to an incredibly guy.  I stood as one of her bridesmaids, along with her two sisters, and our other 3 best friends.  

The night of the rehearsal dinner, the 4 girls and I gave a toast to E & J and to the future of their relationship.

In preparation for our toast, I was thinking back on the memories of my friend and her now husband and one of the ones that stood out most was when I first met him.  I had been down in Washington, D.C. visiting for New Year's and I spent a couple days staying with E and got to meet J for the first time.  This was a big deal as I was the last in our group of girl friends to meet him and I am also notorious to be the hardest to win over by my friend's suitors.  I think I've said this before, but my friends mean the world to me, and I think that they deserve the very best, so I've got high standards.  However, at that very first introduction, I could see what an amazing person he was, how happy they made each other and how well they complemented each other.  He got my total thumbs up approval after that very first night of hanging out and playing beer pong back in 2009.  And then fast-forward to last weekend when they celebrated the start to a beautiful marriage.

Photo stolen from KO's Instagram
That same "pickiness" and high standards that I have is not just in my friends' significant others, but really, with the people in my life in general.  As I write this, I feel I run the risk of sounding snooty or bitchy, and I hope it doesn't come across that way or that I do a good job of explaining myself.  I love people.  I love meeting new people.  I love seeing different personalities, ways of doing things, lifestyles, and learning from all these different individuals in my life.  I just don't have a lot of patience for phoniness or rudeness.  I don't have ANY patience for meanness or bullying.  I choose to not keep people in my life that only bring about drama or start trouble.  And I think you know what I mean.  Because the fun, silly, get-in-trouble-for-climbing-out-the-window-of-the-bar-onto-the-roof kind of trouble is welcome, just not other the kind of picking fights, talking smack, being fake kind of trouble.  And by the way, that "climbing out the window of the bar" thing may or may not have happened last night while out with a pretty awesome and good looking group of people...

The reason that any of this is on my mind, in addition to that toast I was talking about, is that I have been feeling overwhelmingly blessed by -- and grateful for -- the people I have in my life.  Let me try and explain a little bit of what I am talking about, starting with that wedding I went to.

E & J's wedding was such a fun and special weekend.  The two of them, and their families, are all such incredible people and their thoughtfulness came across in so many aspects throughout the whole weekend.  From the incredibly special gifts for the bridal party, to inviting their out of town friends for drinks after the rehearsal dinner.  From coordinating even the most complicated details of the day for us to providing details that helped make our decisions of what meals to choose for the weekend. I know it sounds silly, and we laughed about how detail oriented E is during the wedding weekend - but a few days before the rehearsal dinner, E texted or e-mailed everyone attending the rehearsal dinner to ask us what we wanted for a meal.  And as a reminder, she included in the messages what we had chosen as our meal choice for the wedding.  Since she told me that I had chosen the beef option as my meal for the wedding, I went with the chicken option for the rehearsal dinner.  It was a tiny detail, but the thoughtfulness in reminding me of what my meal choices had been, was so helpful!

And I guess the theme of this post shouldn't just be, "I am so great at picking really thoughtful and nice friends!" but more that I think the process of having the high standards for who I include in my life has paid off.   Now, everyone that I meet from these people, are just as wonderful.  Goodness attracts goodness I think.  It was apparent at the wedding, because all of E & J's friends and family that I had the pleasure of meeting throughout the wedding shared their incredibly thoughtful and kind natures.  J's mom planned such wonderful details for the rehearsal dinner, including some Rhode Island & Texas shaped cookies (not to scale) that stole the show.  

Even their precious little niece was the most happy and easy-going baby I have ever met, smiling and remaining pleasant as she was passed from person to person throughout the weekend.  And E's friend in Atlanta was so wonderful when I introduced her to my mom, assuring her that she'd take care of me when I moved down south.  It was such a fun weekend celebrating the two of them, being surrounded by loved ones, and meeting new friends that I'm hoping to stay in touch with.

Then the day after the wedding, which was my 28th birthday, my mom, friends in Albany, and so many others were so sweet with little details, cards, gifts and positive wishes that made me feel so special.  I am terrible at getting cards and gifts to people on time for their birthday, and my many friends who do such a good job of being on top of those types of things are so amazing and really make you feel special.  There is a special place in the world for people who remember and are able to get birthday cards to people on time.  You all deserve cake and cookies and hugs every day - I love you so much!

This next one may seem a bit off topic, but this Saturday I spent cheering on my friend Jenna as she competed in her first Half Ironman competition at the Big George competition.  It really meant a lot ot me to be able to be there for her as she is one of the people who is constantly doing nice things for others, such as hanging that birthday sign outside of my apartment that totally made my day when I arrived back in Albany after the wedding!  Jenna has been training and planning for this race for years and I was so happy that my schedule worked out to be able to be here to cheer it on.  Jenna has been dating one of my other best friends, Dave, for the past two years, and I had such a good time driving around with him to find Jenna throughout the 60 mile bike portion of the race and seeing how he cared and supported Jenna as well.  Their relationship has been so fun to watch develop from almost exactly two years ago after my birthday party when Jenna said to me, "You know, I actually had a conversation with Dave for the first time last night and he is pretty cool."  :)  Again, goodness attracts goodness and I am so thankful to have these two in my life, and that they two of them were able to find one another.

Then finally, it would be impossible to write a post titled "thank you" and not mention my friends that I have been staying with this weekend at their beautiful home outside of Albany.  I have had such a great time being here with them and its hard to put into words how grateful I am for these, and all of my friends.  On Friday, I spent the day with movers packing and moving out of my apartment in Albany, and at the end of the day when my place was empty headed out to their place.  I was pretty bummed, as leaving that apartment was really emotional for me.  It was the first place I lived alone.  The first apartment I fully furnished and decorated.  And the apartment where I truly learned about independence.   As well as where I apparently bought a lot of clothes and shoes and purses...

I moved into this apartment in a pretty challenging time in my life.  And I was determined to be independent, from the very first night I stayed there and haphazardly put together my bed single handedly.  And it was there that I bought a power drill and hung my own curtains.  There that I changed my car lightbulbs in the backyard for the first time. There that I learned how to cook for one.  And that I really learned how to be happy on my own.  I loved this home and in many ways wish I could pick it up and bring it to Atlanta with me, but alas, I said goodbye on Friday.

And when I arrived at my friends' on Friday evening, teary-eyed and exhausted, it made all the difference to have them welcome me in.  And they, as well as many others, have told me that I will always have a place to stay in their homes when I come back to visit Albany -- which, I will have to do often.

In the speech that we gave at the wedding rehearsal dinner, one of the things we talked about was the difference between the family we are born into and the family that we make for ourselves.  The past week, I am continually reminded of the wonderful family I have made for myself in Albany.  On Saturday morning I got up early and met Jess for a long run.  Hers, as well as my friends I am at now, are homes that I do not knock on the front doors when I arrive, but just walk right in.  Because they make me feel so welcome and it just feels natural.  Jess and I had a great 18-mile training run and then her husband and kids, and my friends, all met up and we went to lunch.  On the drive back to their house, I was squished in the backseat of the car with her two kids and while we were driving, one of cuddled up on my shoulder, and the other grabbed and held on to my hand.

These little things are what I am so thankful for in my life.  Friends, both young and old, who have taken me into their families over the years.  And another of those that I was lucky enough to see this week is my friend Taslim, who was one of my first friends I met 6 years ago when I moved to Albany.  Although from totally different backgrounds, Taslim has welcomed me into her family and culture and I have now seen her home grow to include two beautiful and happy children who I have been fortunate enough to see and babysit over the years.  Last week we met for our annual end of August dinner in celebration of Ramadan and it was emotional for me to think of when we first met 6 years ago.  Taslim's friendship has taught me so much and opened me to such wonderful new things and I am so thankful for her loving heart, kind nature, and how much she has brought me into her life and family over the years.

There are so many other friends and people in Albany whose friendship fills me up and for which I am so grateful for.  I can't stop writing about it on the blog because I can't stop feeling overwhelming appreciation for these people in my life.  And you know what?  More than once in the past week I have also had conversations with people along the lines of, "I wish I had known you sooner!"  I continue to meet such loving and great people in this area that makes me sad and it's hard to leave.

Tomorrow I get on a plane and I'll be traveling for a couple of weeks, then returning to Albany at the end of September for one final week.  Saying goodbyes have been difficult and I have been avoiding them as much as possible.

I've spent a lot of this weekend just relaxing with friends, and I love when you are at the level of friendship where you don't need to be doing anything to be having a good time together.  Or when you are comfortable with silence with friends.  It's odd to say, but it's really special.

Anyways, I guess what I want to say in the end is that I am so grateful for the people in my life who have welcomed me into their lives over the years.  You are all so good to me and I do my best to return that to you.  Goodness only attracts more goodness.  E & J thank you for including me in your wedding day. My friends I have been staying with this weekend, thank you for not even questioning having me eat your food and do laundry in your place and including me in pizza Friday and waffle Saturday.  Thank you to my friends in Albany who have been coming out again and again making these last couple weeks SO much fun and filled with so many belly laughs that I am wondering why I ever wanted to move.  Thank you to my family, who understands that I am sometimes not the best with answering phone calls and returning texts, but that you are so important to me and I couldn't do anything without you.  Thank you to everyone who supports me and gives me the confidence to be able to move to a new city in a new part of the country.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for always being there for me and keeping me smiling.

Here goes nothing!

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