I was texting with my friend Ali this morning about our visit yesterday. Yesterday, Ali drove from New Jersey to Sleepy Hollow, NY; I drove from Massachusetts to Sleepy Hollow, NY and Samantha drove from Pennsylvania to Sleepy Hollow, NY. We’ve never met. I’ve been texting separately with both of them for months, but they had never talked to each other. We met through Instagram.
Our plan – check out the farmer’s market, get brunch and do whatever touristy things we possibly could.
What happened was a lot more.
Yesterday left my heart full and this morning I felt different. This past week was a pretty good. It wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t expecting it to be. I just wanted it to be better than previous weeks. I wanted to feel a little happier, a little less tired and more like myself. I’ve been saying that for weeks – I want to feel like myself. I think part of it is, I want the old me, the before all this crap happened me, but the truth is, I can’t go back to that me. So now it’s figuring out how I can be a newer, maybe more sparkly me.
This week, I met some amazing people – some for the first time and some for more adventures. It took me to three different states. I drove through five states. I ate doughnuts and burgers and had excellent coffee and walked and talked and lifted and laughed.
On Tuesday, I met Kolbie. She lives an hour and half away from me in New Hampshire. She’s a full-time law student and we share a passion for lifting and bettering ourselves. She has a take no shit attitude and clearly said, “I will decide when I’m too skinny” when talking about a family member who said she was getting too thin because she was getting to a healthy weight that her family hadn’t seen her at before. She has big goals and a plan to accomplish them. I got the chance to meet her at her gym – no, we didn’t workout together, but checked in while going our own routines. Again, we have different journey’s and different plans, but we can still throw some iron around in the same room.
She told me about her coach and how he supports her and how working with him was the best decision she’s made. We talked about our goals for the upcoming year and there’s a chance our paths could cross on the stage.
We went out for coffee after our lift and we sat there for almost three hours. I didn’t leave until dinner time and it was pitch black. I still had to drive home and I had never been more thankful for packing a protein bar. On the drive home I thought about how happy I was that her and I got to connect in person. We’ve been following each other online all year and only recently started talking to each more regularly. I left New Hampshire thinking about how much I wanted to connect with more people. Get to know them better than the photos they post online. Hear their stories and someone help them figure out their paths.
I met with my therapist on Wednesday and I told him about meeting Kolbie. I told him how the weekend went (wedding weekend) and how I hoped the rest of the week would go. We talked about a plan for when I get back to work at the end of the month – what I can do to keep my focus. I felt good about what we discussed and I think it helped set me up for the rest of the week.
On Thursday, Liz and I got together to lift in the morning and then adventure down to Providence, Rhode Island. We found out that there’s a new doughnut shop there and we figured we could build a day in the city. Liz and I usually have solid adventures when we get together, but checking out the exhibits at RISD, showed me that how we interpret is very similar. Art’s purpose is to give you a feeling. Everyone is impacted differently by different pieces of art. How I feel about impressionism is different than how someone else feels about watercolor. The conversations we had throughout the museum made me so much more excited to know Liz.
We have fitness in common and we love trying crazy food – I mean, doughnut adventures are a must, but Liz has been a huge part of my life, especially the past few weeks. We connected through Instagram in the winter/spring as I was in competition prep for the Cutler. We talked about the at the time upcoming surgery – she’s had a tummy tuck before. We talked about lifting and goals, but we also talked about our boyfriends and work and our personal lives. But we didn’t meet until this summer. I remember JP asking me who she was and then he just declared that she’s going to be Holyoke Liz – even though that’s not really where she lives, but I guess it’s close enough. There’s an hour distance between us, but only a few seconds via phone. Liz’s background is in psychology, and there have been a few times that I’ve found myself calling her to be talked down from an attack. She has experience working with clients who have anxiety and her patience has been key more times than I want to admit.
I’m just glad that her boyfriend, Dan, let’s me steal her sometimes.
My Friday plans were changed a bit, but only for the better. Because that brings me to Saturday. Samantha and I had been planning to get together for a few weeks. She’s about 40 minutes outside of Philadelphia and we figured out that Sleepy Hollow is our half way point. It’s about a two and a half hour drive for each of us each way. Well, on Friday, I was talking to Ali on the phone and I told her about getting together with Samantha on Saturday. Ali and I were going to meet for lunch on Friday on her way to Boston, but her Boston plans fell through. I told her Sleepy Hollow was only an hour and a half away from her and I could ask Samantha to see if she could join us. She said she didn’t want to crash, but I told her not to worry and I would ask. Samantha said that was fine, but she may need to warm up.
Well. I do believe there was no concern of warming up to each other.
We met at the farmer’s market and managed to drink both wine or gin before 10 am. We found ALL OF THE CARBS and each bought a treat to bring home. I found a black and white cookie, just the white with sprinkles – of course I did. We split a Belguim chocolate and coconut almond brownie three ways because it was the size of my face.
Our second stop was brunch and it was amazing. However, I don’t think I’ve ever had bad brunch. We sat there for two hours and Samantha convinced us to have a second round of mimosas because we parked our cars and were walking around the town anyway. Burgers and muffins and bacon and booze, all before noon. There was more than just eating. We celebrated Samantha’s engagement and meeting new friends. We laughed and talked loudly. If you were walking by us, you wouldn’t have ever guessed that it was the first time we’d me in person.
We did what all good tourists do – hung out in the cemetery. The weather was perfect and the Old Dutch Church sits on a ridiculous hill that can oversee the town. We walked through headstones and looked at the years. So many pre-date 1900, and there were some that had been so weathered that they had nothing on them at all. While we were walking through we passed a few crypts and Samantha decided to knock to see if anyone was home. I think we all were nervous that someone would knock back. Thankfully, the dead were asleep.
We took a bunch of photos, mostly cheesy, but all excellent. There’s a photo of the three of us and I said to Ali that she looked so happy in. Her smile is so big. She said she was genuinely happy. I think we all were. There was something about the day – it was cold when we met up at first, but as the sun got higher and it got warmer, there were more laughs and it felt like we knew each other forever. There was so much building up to meet Samantha and Ali – originally separately, but then even more build up knowing we would all get to hang out all together. Samantha and I had been going back and forth on brunch places, but our conversations date back to my surgery when we played wayyy too many rounds of Words with Friends. Ali and I have recently exchanged numbers, but we’ve been emailing for what seems like forever. Both are hilarious and open minded and tell stories in the best ways possible. Driving home all I could think about was how great the day was, I didn’t want the feeling end.
My heart was full from the day and from the week, really.
Last week brought some clarity, it brought some personal heartache as JP and I are still navigating life living together and making decisions together. But overall, it brought a full heart.
Maybe it’s because it’s November and that we’re going to be stuffing our faces soon and pulling thankfulness out of the air, but I feel grateful for those who I’ve had the chance to meet while I’ve been on leave. I’m grateful for those who have helped me fill my time in between journaling and therapy appointments. I’m grateful for those who were willing to share their stories with me and trusted me enough to share them with all of you as well. At a time where I felt I lost my purpose, so many have helped me find it and create a path for myself.
Every day I receive messages saying that I inspire you, but I don’t think you realize that so many of you inspire me, encourage me.
Trust me, I’m sure you’ve seen my annoyances, but the bigger picture is that there is something that connects us all and brings us together. Whether it’s making friends over peanut butter – I’m looking at Sarah and Alicia. Or having common ground in our views – hi there Ali. Finding out that you have made a friend who is willing to be weird with you and not judge you – I love you Samantha. A friend who will invite you to their home and sit for hours talking – Oh Jen. Lifting and coffee and adventures and doughnuts – Lori and Liz and Kolbie. I really could list a bunch of people.
This is my fifth week of leave, fourth week of my lifting program and JP is gone on business. I have therapy like normal, I’m working on a paper for class and Jen and I have lunch plans tomorrow with her husband. I imagine that my heart will stay full and my belly will be happy, but maybe not as happy as this past week.
I can’t wait to take you on my adventures and continue this ride.