The End of My First Journey.

As December swiftly runs past us and we begin to feel the weight of the year we are all about to leave, I have to say it packs more of a punch this year than it usually does. Today is my final day at my first college. Today is my final day at an awesome job that I have had for more than two years. Today is the tie up loose ends, say goodbye to everyone, and remembrance kind of day. When writing a couple of emails to a couple of people for a couple of things I have to clear up before I leave, I was written back almost immediately by one. And it read “Thanks for the update, Ashley. Congratulations on your graduation and best of luck on the next part of your journey!.” Which, made me realize that today I am completing the first part of my journey. And, isn’t that just terrifying and breathtaking and confusing and humbling. All this hard work and changing my mind and challenging myself actually accounted for something. I came to this school, got a new job, and once I graduate I wont be back. Today is the end of my first journey.

This part of the journey that is coming to a completion today, I believe, was about growing up, figuring myself out a little bit more, and learning to trust my instincts. Right before I got this job and began school I moved out on my own. I went from living with a rather large, loud and rambunctious family of seven to a small, quiet place with just me and my best friend. I also went from a soft little town with bright stars and limited dreams, to a booming downtown city where the dreams where massive and stars impossible to see. I also started college, got a new job and changed my major. Which, as one could only imagine lead to may tear filled nights, lost days and confusing choices. As you could also imagine, I had to pick up the run of the mill adult stuff like paying my bills on time, how expensive heat can be, how to not burn your apartment down, and how costly groceries are. But, I also learned the more meaningful value of being an adult. Things like learning to trust in yourself, having to make hard decisions, never letting fear stop me from attacking my dreams, and of course that you are never to old to call your mother crying asking for help.

Not only have I learned a lot about my somewhat new role of being an adult, I have learned a lot more about myself on a personal level. I learned that I am only responsible for myself and my actions, that happiness comes from within, and the true importance of being a good friend. I have learned to forgive even if someone has not apologized, learned to put faith in myself and the abilities I have and, that above all else my family is the most important thing in the world. I have learned that I love the bustling of a downtown area and plan on living in New York City one day. I have learned that I also require time outside where I can spend a moment figuring myself out. I have learned that yoga helps my clear my head, exercise keeps me from wanting to punch people, and eating healthy is a value that is important to me. I have learned that communication and trust are the most important things in a relationship and that learning to live with someone you love is a challenge but it is so worth it. I have learned that I love brunch on Sundays and sleeping in late on Saturdays and weekends filled with food, friends and laughter. I have learned the kind of movies I like to watch, the books I like to read, and the music I enjoy listening to. I have learned that while it is absolutely terrifying to go to school for something that you love, in the end, with hard work, determination, and never taking no for an answer it will all be worth it. I have learned so much about myself and the person I want to be. As the year is coming to a close and the curtain is abut to close I realize that today is the end of an era. The end of my very first journey. It has come with its fair share of hardships challenges and obstacles but, I have made some hilarious memories, wonderful new friends, and instilled an unshakable faith in myself. Soon I will be off to my last school with a new job and new sights in store.

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Expiration date

As the chill in the outside air grew colder and everyone around me bundled up. As the colors of the leaves began their last marvelous show and everything became pumpkin flavored, I knew it was time. The date of expiration was nearing me. I remember the issue date, or to a 16 year old me, the best day on planet earth. Though I was sneezing and coughing and had the worst kind of flu, nothing could rain on my parade. After the nerves settled and I managed to park the car back in the lot, I knew that I finally earned my ticket to the freedom my 16 year old self so desperately desired. I ran inside, and with a nod of my head a mob of screaming, hugging, and excited family members surrounded me. I had the largest smile any human could have produced and that smile stared up at me until my 21st birthday this year. Something I also remember thinking about that day was the big, bold expiration date listed at the bottom of my pink ticket to freedom. I remember thinking of the year 2014 as if it was a land far far away, a time so distant and so unattainable I had no idea what the world had in store for me. Of course I had the bigger questions of things like, would my country still be in war, how would technological advances affect the children of the time and would we be able to cure cancer, but lets my honest here I was 16 so I mostly thought about me.  I remember spending hours upon hours attempting to imagine what exactly the world would be like for me in the intimidating, far off year of 2014. Right before I went to go exchange that picture of a doe eyed child for an adult woman, I was forced to reflect on the time spent between issue and expiration. At the ripe age of 16 I would not in a million years have pictured my life how it is today. I would not have seen any of it coming. The struggle of losing my grandfather with such speed in knocked us all off our feet. The way my mother and father can now be in the same establishment and even shake hands. The car I am driving, the place that I work and the nearing end of my college experience. I would not have foreseen the loss of some friendships and the making of new glorious ones. The meeting of the love of my life and my very best friend. That by the time the expiration date grew close I was planning a June wedding and looking forward to the challenges and adventures life has in store for a 21 year old me. At 16 I had the world at my feet, no fear in my eyes or dreams that were too big. And, while some realities of the world have set in as I am crossing over into my 21st year, I am proud that I still have  large dreams and an optimistic outlook on life. The things that I have accomplished in those years between those bold dates make me proud. The things I have in store for my future, the goals and dreams I am working toward achieving and the understanding that there is no way I can predict what my life will be like between issue and expiration makes be believe that in some distant universe where time is endlessly existing, I have made my 16 year old self very proud.

The Future

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The Future

Who knows exactly where we are headed in life. All I know are these things. All I know is that I want to move people and more importantly move myself. I want to love on a large scale and love myself on a larger one. I want to do things with so much heart that no one can repay me for.I want to travel the entire world and in turn be thankful for everything in mine. I want to be remembered as the girl who was always smiling and the one who never gave up.I want to forgive the people whom don’t ask for it. I want to write until my hands wont allow me to do so anymore and I want to take photographs and videos to remember the wonderful life I have been given when my memory doesn’t cut it. I want to make my family proud and more importantly I want to be proud of myself. I may not know where I am headed exactly, but I sure do know what I’m after.

A Lifetime Apart

They were already there when we found a place to sit at the other end of the long worn down leather bench. I sat on the bench and you sat across from me just as she sat on the bench and her husband sat across from here. A simple bench length separated a lifetime. As they were eating and chatty quietly a couldn’t help but to sneak a peek. I began to see you and I at that age, I began to see our future flash through my mind like a reel of a movie. In five minutes the extension of our lives played for me like a prime time movie. I saw myself walking down the aisle in an overpriced lace gown toward you. I saw myself tucked quietly beside you in our large and cozy bed. I envisioned you and I dancing around our new home with smooth wood floors and a colorful doorway. I saw us drinking wine in Italy and taking pictures by the Eiffel tower. I saw our hair begin to grey and I felt the way your dark skin began to feel after holding mine for 50 years. I watched our lives, or rather my hopes and dreams of our lives play in rapid speed across the well traveled free way of my mind. When reality forced my derailment off the free way, I finished with a look at the people on the other side of the bench, hoping that one day, 70 years from now that would be you and I.

During her soft discussion with her husband over lunch, she couldn’t help but to take a sneak peek at the young couple at the other end of the bench. While her husbands voice began to tailor off her mind went into rewind. She saw the  first day she  met him on the crystal summer day on that beach in July of 1940. She saw the long days and nights she cried over her bed waiting and praying for him to return from war. She saw the way he grabbed her by the waist and gave her that kiss that would forever burn on her lips,  in his sailor uniform the first day he got home. Her memories flew through the time he got down on one knee on that beach 5 years later and asked for her hand. She saw herself walk down the aisle in her mothers soft dress and the new home they saved up for. She saw their first child being born and the over worked hand that he still holds hers with. The reality of the restaurant snapped her back into the world at hand and stopped her black and white rewind reel. She stopped her husband mid speech and held his hand. She gave him the same look that she gave him that blue sky day they met so many years ago.

Each couple secretly sneaked peeks of each other from the ends of that smooth leather bench over lunch that day. One woman looked at the end of the bench and her mind flew into fast forward, one into rewind. Both not knowing that the other is wishing for their beautiful lives.