I’ve neglected this blog for far too long. Life has been insane, though. School started in August and went full steam ahead with SO much homework, projects, etc. We’re still working on the house, though the end is finally in sight. We just need to finish painting, get a little more organized, and take care of our front yard. It’s not bad by any means, the previous tenants just never trimmed any of the plants, so they’re a little overgrown.
But I digress. House and school is not (exactly) why I’m writing today. I’m writing because today, November eleventh, two thousand and thirteen marks six years. Six years ago today, on a slightly chilly Sunday morning, I arrived at my aunt’s house here in Arizona with my mom and sister and all of our things. I was sad and angry and I didn’t believe we’d stay more than a year – I hoped we wouldn’t stay more than that. I missed my school and my friends in Missouri and having already lived in AZ twice left a bad taste in my mouth. I started at a school down the street about a week after arriving and, from the get-go, hated it. We had to wear uniforms with our shirts tucked in and I got made fun of for carrying a purse (a big shock, since purses were all the rage at my old middle school). I desperately wanted to go back to Missouri, but it slowly became okay. I planned on still going back one day for college, but as I made friends and got adjusted to life here in Arizona, my wanting to go back lessened. Most days were spent with my then-best friend, Whitney, hanging out, watching movies like ‘Across the Universe’ and ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’. And Juno. Sometimes, I found myself still sad about having left Missouri, but it was mostly because of the plans I’d had for my life. I was all set to go to North Kansas City High School, enroll in the IB program, continue in choir, and become a teacher one day. Instead, I found myself getting ready to go to Glendale High School, home of the Cardinals.
My freshman year of high school marked a couple of big changes in my life. Whitney moved to another high school and, although we still hung out, we began to drift. Now, we’re Facebook friends and although I haven’t seen her in almost two years, she’ll always be the first friend I had out here. I soon became friends with Nikolina, who would hold the title of “best friend” for the next few years. In January of 2009, just over a year after moving to AZ, living with my aunt, bouncing between her house and apartments with my mom and sister, my mom was no longer able to take care of us, so my sister and I moved in with my aunt. For the first time ever, my sister and I each got our own room and we decorated it how we wanted. I was in choir, on the school tennis team and no longer dreaming of returning to Kansas City one day. I knew my life was in Arizona and, for the first time, began to hope we’d actually stay.
Sophomore year was a hard, hard year. I’d auditioned for – and gotten into – Vocal Ensemble (the highest choir at my school), but all of the girls hated me. I was ostracized and bullied because they mistook my shyness and quiet demeanor for being snobby and weird. In December, an argument (I won’t go into details because they aren’t important) led to me almost getting kicked out of my aunt’s house and getting taken out of Vocal Ensemble and dance for the next semester. I was extremely depressed and, in the midst of it all, my grandma, who had basically raised me the first four years of my life, was dying. I’ll never forget the day she died and when I heard the news. January 3rd, 2011, at about 3:00 in the afternoon, my mom (who was staying over because my aunt was in Kansas City) came into the fireplace room and simply told my sister and I that grandma had passed away. After that, I became extremely angry at God. I hated him. I hated that He’d allowed me to get taken out of my favorite classes and that He’d taken my grandma away. I refused to pray or acknowledge God in any way and, from the time I’d left school for winter break, had not cried. This lasted until January 13th, my 16th birthday, when I finally broke down and cried. Some sweet sixteen, huh? The next semester was hard. I was in classes I didn’t like, with people I didn’t know, and music, which had always been my source of comfort and happy place during hard times, was gone. I could barely go into the choir room without crying and I did cry when I went to the choir concerts that semester. I just felt so alone and so without happiness and hope that I did, for a time, contemplate suicide. But instead, I made a little calendar on a piece of paper and, every night, crossed off one more day until the hell would be over. And before I knew it, it was. It’s not to say, though, that sophomore year was without its blessings and fulfillment of dreams. I never thought I would have braces and yet, I got them that year. Second semester, one of my saving graces was the fact that I met my to-this-day best friend, Mallory, at youth group. She and I got along so well, so quickly and I am so thankful for God bringing her into my life because I honestly don’t know where I’d be without her. I visited ASU for the first time, after having decided I wanted to be a choir teacher, and began dreaming of the day I found myself there.
Junior year was, by far, the best year of high school I had. My sister had moved out of my aunt’s house, so it was just me. Being the only kid in the house stunk sometimes because, when I was in trouble, there was nobody to come along and mess up (and thus take the attention away from me). But when it didn’t stink, it was REALLY, REALLY awesome. I often had the house to myself to play music, read, write, etc. I was back in Vocal Ensemble and had a lot of friends. When I asked my aunt if I could throw a Christmas party for VE, she let me. I made invitations and cute “margaritas” made of candy, decorated the house, and we ate, played games, and had a Secret Santa gift exchange. I was doing well in school and life was good. The day after school let out, my aunt, cousin, her kids, and I left for Kansas City. We drove and spent a week there, having a reunion with the family before I drove out to Illinois with my sister and her baby to spend a week at one of my aunt’s and uncle’s. My aunt came and got me after that and it was sad, leaving my sister whom I hadn’t seen in about ten years, but it was also cool to spend two days in the city, going to Navy Pier and museums. We flew back to Arizona, which was my first time on a plane and I spent the rest of the summer doing summer homework and just being lazy.
Senior year. Looking back, it’s hard to measure how difficult senior year was. I don’t mean school wise, but life wise. Three days into senior year, I moved in with my mom and it was such a shock. I went from living with someone who could give me what I needed and/or wanted to someone who expected me to be able to provide for myself because she couldn’t. I was working, but convinced my mom to let me quit so I could do the two theatre shows that year. I did, like I promised, get a job mere days after the second show was over in April, and enjoyed it a lot. I worked with Mallory and a bunch of her friends. We were all the same age and a lot alike, so it made going to work fun. I was stressed – I was going to school every single day and working twenty hours a week, while also having to go (and pay for) grocery shopping, clean the house, do the laundry, and cook dinner when I was home. But none of that really mattered. I’d taken my SAT and ACT and gotten an 1860/28, had applied and been accepted to ASU, received a scholarship, and my aunt had started taking me to orthodontist appointments again. That summer, I worked and worked and, on August 17th, said goodbye to Glendale and headed out to Tempe with my things.
Freshman year, I moved in a day early and was appreciative of it. It got me on my own and gave me time to get situated before my roommate arrived. I met Allie, who I am still friends with, and had dinner with a girl living on my floor. Before I got to ASU, I’d been praying that God would lead me to a church. The second morning I was in my dorm, I was heading out to the bookstore when I got stopped by a girl who asked me if I wanted to take a survey for some free Gatorade. I seriously must have stared at her for forever. I was debating if I had enough time to take a survey and if I wanted a Gatorade. I finally decided to take the survey and saw it was just some simple check marks of what I was interested in. I checked off that I was interested in church, to which the girl responded that she belonged to a church and asked me if I would be interested in checking it out. I said yes and, the next day, found myself at Hope Christian Church. We went to eat at Smashburger after and I met a bunch of awesome girls including Sarah. I hit the ground running with Hope – getting involved quickly and deeply. My first roommate was not so awesome and, a month after school started, found myself in a new room down the hall with the best roommate ever (of that year). I became close with my CA and Peer Mentor, Casey and Allison, who served as role models, advice givers, listeners, and friends. Allison was, and is still, such a good person and friend and always willing to listen to me and help me figure things out. I became extremely good friends with Allie, Litzia, and Ann, and was constantly hanging out with them. For winter break, I went home to work, which sucked, but second semester quickly arrived. I rushed, accepted a bid to, pledged, and became an active member of Omega Phi Alpha National Service Sorority. Sarah and I became good friends and I found myself with an older ‘sister’ I could really look up to and get Godly advice from on pretty much any area of life. I auditioned for, but did not get into, the music school (though that was really first semester).
The summer between freshman and sophomore year, I moved back with my mom and boy, did that stink. I had gotten so used to my independence and only having to be concerned with myself and, suddenly, my mom expected me to contribute to a place I was never at. I basically worked all summer and slept at her place. Work was crappy, but I met two great girls, Nikki and Bailey, the latter of whom is like a little sister to me now. I was just counting down the days until August 1st (you can read about that in my last post).
Now, it’s sophomore year. School is harder, but it’s manageable. Living in a Hope house is seriously the best decision I’ve ever made, tied with the decision to go to ASU. I love my roommates and, for the first time almost ever, I look forward to go home every day. I can’t wait to go home most days. I’m growing and maturing by the day and I can see so clearly where I want to be six months, a year from now. Though auditioning for music school has been put on the back burner for now, I’m not disappointed. I am content to wait for what I want most in this life (when it comes to careers, at least). Sorority life is wonderful and I’ve found an amazing friend in Rachel. My line is growing and I love every single one of them. I miss my LOA sisters, especially Allison, but the times I get to see her are just that more special. I’m learning to deny myself what I want now so that I can have what I want later and, in all, life is good. For the first time in a long time, everything is going well across the board. I’m not saying I don’t have bad days, because I do. Just, in the grand scheme of things, those days don’t affect me as much as they used to.
I’ve been waiting for this part of my life since I was 12 years old. And if someone had told me six years ago that this is what my life would look like, I would’ve called them crazy and I would’ve tried to imagine how on earth that could happen.
But I don’t have to imagine. It’s here and it’s more than I could have ever asked for.
The time is six years. The place is Arizona. The everything is my life.
And I love it so.