Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Twenty Three

One year ago, I remember waking up with a bad cold. I was in the middle of tech week for my acting thesis and trying to figure out how to make my voice last through my six hour dress rehearsal that evening. Earlier that weekend, I had celebrated my birthday with the 4th annual Vermont party where friends came to a dirty basement to dance, eat Ben & Jerry’s and drink Magic Hat beer and Woodchuck cider. (Swarthmore is the only college I’ve heard of that will actually fund your own birthday party if you invite the whole campus). We wore paper hats with the John Deere logo on them and flannel shirts and tie dye.

Because we had celebrated over the weekend, I was surprised to enter the dining hall that Monday and find friends waiting with signs and streamers. There was an everything bagel with a candle stuck in it and bottles of champagne and orange juice. They gave me gifts of homemade artwork and books of poetry and a tambourine for our not-so-serious all girls’ acoustic cover band. I have amazing (and amazingly creative) friends. Those of us without class took a train into Philadelphia. We stopped at DiBruno Brothers for cheese and hummus and chocolate cake and went to Anthropologie to try on dresses we couldn’t afford. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and love for these inspiring people in my life; for my family wishing me well from afar, for friends to celebrate with, for the loving and close community I found on that campus.

At this time last year, I had no idea that I would receive a Watson fellowship. I had just finished my final interview days earlier, and had even tried to stop thinking about it as a possibility.

I had no idea that I’d be waking up one year later so far from that loving community and so far from those amazing people.

But here I am today, waking up in Friedrichshain, Berlin in the apartment of someone I met just over two weeks ago. There was no way to predict I would ever be here. Sometimes it all just feels so surreal.

I'm currently at Berlin Tegel airport. There's snow falling outside and my flight is delayed. Hopefully, in a few hours, I will meet my sister in Istanbul. Hopefully, we will eat good Turkish food and look at snowy streets and figure this whole thing out together. I will be twenty three.

In some ways everything has changed. I'm miles from home, whether that is Swarthmore, PA or Burlington, VT and I am very much alone. In the past year, I became a Watson Fellow, a college graduate, a sister-in-law.

But I am still overwhelmed with gratitude and love for these inspiring people in my life; for my family wishing me well from afar, for friends to celebrate with, for the loving and close communities I have found.

I like twenty-three. I like that it's an odd number and I like that it puts me more solidly “in my twenties.”

If I look forward one year, I have no idea where I'll be, but I'm starting to be more okay with that.

Thank you all for the love. I am one lucky girl.

I'm also sending love today to my birthday twin and grandfather today. This photo was taken many February 21sts ago during one of our many breakfast in bed traditions. Happy 88th birthday today, Papa, and happy 60th wedding anniversary to you and Grandma.


  1. Have a prime birthday!
    love from a balmy VT on your big day.

  2. Replies
    1. Happy birthday again and something to cheer you up a bit:

      It's about german names, which would be considered as a bad choice by most people - something to do with kevinism, I guess.