I'm three months into a semi-adult life and so far, it hasn't exactly been the stuff of my Ralph Lauren ad-esque dreams. This is probably good, as so many upturned polo collars and chiseled cheekbones would be disorienting, not to mention intimidating--but still, a girl can hope for better things. As it turns out, I'm still me--two inches shorter than I'd like to be and squeezing the toothpaste from the middle, for better or worse. I won't say my fears about entering this next phase of my life were unfounded, because believe you me, they weren't. Lots to be concerned about over here, but hopefully getting a little bit better every day. I've given up trying to think about leaving New Orleans and moving here--of leaving the world I made, leaving the friends and the familiar places, to be here. I'm saving that for later, another time, when I can face my mourning head on and without hesitation. Right now I can only tentatively move around the periphery of that sadness, can only grasp blindly at a target that is always just out of my reach. Denial, my old friend, is here again. I never quite learned how to be happy in the present while thinking about the past, and maybe I shouldn't have to. Life is a series of trade-offs, you know, so if I'm to live happily here I cannot dwell there. I can't, or won't, until that complex tangle of emotion lives only as a momentary dull ache in my chest when I walk into a bar that reminds me of Cure, or smell something cajun-y, or see a magnolia tree.

Every now and then I roll a sentence around in my head that I made up a long time ago--I never wrote it down but it comes back to me sometimes, like a song lyric or a mantra. It's Portland raised me, but New Orleans made me. On paper it doesn't look good, it's an ungainly sentence that's too obscure to keep in any piece of writing that's quality. But it does sound good in my head, and really, I think I like it because it's been the best way to remind myself that even though I leave somewhere, it will never leave me. You can never stop being the accumulation of all the people you've ever met and all the places you've ever seen, you'll never stop being the sum total of your experiences. That's what that says to me--Portland raised me, this city I've been a part of for so many years. Portland gave me my easy-going spirit, my Northwestern heart. But New Orleans made me--made me understand things a little better than I used to, with a little more compassion, and always, always with a drink in hand.

When I say I'm still me, it comes with a feeling of relief. I told my little sister once--I think we were talking when I got home from Senegal--I told her that I'm not afraid of being alone, because I always have me. I'll never do anything, go anywhere, without the comfort of my own company. I rediscover this in every new venture, and I think is part of the reason why I seek out change every few years or so, as a challenge. In a way, I'm seeking myself out. It's too easy in my every day life, I think, to become complacent in the company of others. I think being alone is one of the more challenging things in life, and the most rewarding. It is something I haven't been doing enough of--you can always tell, because I don't write hardly at all if I'm not by myself. Now that I live with my older sister, though I love her so, I am shadowed--or I am shadowing, I'm not really sure which. Either way you slice it, it doesn't exactly lend itself to introspection.

Today though, after talking with my two best friends from school, and a nice long afternoon of me, myself and I, I thought, well I should write a blog. And so I did. My Dad said that I'll have too much to catch up on, too many months to cram into one post. But I won't try and rehash, I don't think, only move onward and upward. Everything will resurface in time, I'm sure. Probably when I'm least expecting it, and when it's most inopportune. But then again, I won't even be surprised--of course it will be, I'm still me, after all.

xoxo, Lauren