Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I said yes.

If you've been "following" me for the past few years, you know my blogging habits are the absolute worst. I had this BIG idea too of landing my column in Glamour had I consistently talked about myself! Cindi Leive, you there?? One last call...

Still, my posts chronicle a lived-in life. That sounds more dramatic than I intended it to be... I mean, when I go back and scroll down I'll be able to piece together tiny moments that brought me wherever I am and wherever I'll be. Oh yeah, my mysterious vague ooooh tone is still going strong even if it's been reduced to only in my head.

Where do I begin?! Oh god oh god, you see I'm passed the "processing" stage of what is happening and also passed the stage where everyone finds out and you don't know how to hold a phone conversation (or in person) anymore. And what I'm in now isn't an official stage of getting married I don't think.

 Pause. Rewind. Play. *sound effect from Judy Hopps's carrot pen* --- of getting married I don't think.  

Here's a very fluffy and fast forward version of the past two years to get you up to speed (four loyal readers of mine): Once upon a time there was my brother's wedding in a far away land of India where cows roam free and chai is sipped 75 times a day - I got reacquainted with a boy I didn't think much of growing up. He also flew in to attend the wedding. I was myself the whole time; barely wore makeup unless it was a wedding event, never combed my hair, had the energy of a five-year-old at 4 am and as usual, stuck to my cousins like glue.  Perhaps he found my hyperactivity fascinating and "different" and set out to be himself in front of me, too. I knew him all my life but never knew him. We didn't even have each other's phone numbers and by chance, happened upon it on a joke.

 My cousins often call me "Zar" for short and he overheard it one day at the apartment we all camped in and came in laughing, "what is a Zar? Like the CZAR of Russia?" (I know it wasn't even THAT funny.) My cousin's stretched it more, never missing a chance to call me by my nickname in front of him. I chimed in saying that I like my name! I think it's cute when they call me Zar. "I will never call you that!" he kept saying. "Relax, you won't even need to," I fired back. The next day, I believe we used his new iPhone 6 plus or whatever for a picture and needed it to be sent to us. He was being lazy and told us to send it ourselves. I did, but hadn't added my contact info because I probably would't keep in touch. But then... to be funny, I clicked the 'edit' button on the right corner of iMessage and typed "Zar" where it said name.

Two years later, I'm still Zar in his phone. And we're getting married this summer.

I know it's hard to believe, but I've been a no person for most of my life. There was an editorial internship at the New Yorker and my school's internship coordinator asked why I don't apply?  Oh.. no, I can't leave Chicago. Few months later, I interviewed an editor at Glamour for my magazine profile writing class. I didn't email her about possible writing opportunities because Nah, that won't ever happen - also it's in New York. 

I live for adventure and serendipitous encounters and moments and I'm obsessed with the way the universe works. But there's a part of me (a much quieter part) that is terrified of change. I get attached to everything from a pin I collected at freshman orientation as easily as I get attached to my long distant relatives who visit for the summer. So to say I'm scared to leave home to move in with my husband... to leave Chicago... is to scrape the very thin top.

If I can offer the world anything.. anything at all, it's this. The story of how it is possible to love, to accept life... to change your course even when you swore you couldn't. Because when you're lucky enough to find and marry your soulmate, not much else matters.

So here begins a series of blog posts that I'm writing for me & you, about the beautiful mad magical terrifying hilarious realization of, "I'm getting married."

August 26, 2018: Well actually not an edit but an update. I NEVER CONTINUED MY PROMISED BLOG POSTS. In my defense (as usual), that was EIGHTEEN days away from my wedding. I barely touched a keyboard. I barely did anything but freak out over getting married, cry, laugh, be too busy being happy and having fun and most of all... being present. So much happened, so much... and it was magic. 

My next post will be a YEAR late post about our trip to Italy, mostly because I have a post already in drafts but also because I miss blogging. 

CIAO FRIENDS <3 (I've become a 15 year-old that's new to Facebook, apparently) 

Friday, May 13, 2016

It's okay to not know, okay?

Life is a little bit weird at the moment. Tomorrow, I graduate from college and I'm having a whole bunch of feelings. It's funny isn't it... for four years or more you know exactly what every next day looks like. And then all of a sudden, we'll wake up the Monday after graduation and it's a blank canvas. Granted there's an annoying 1% that has a job out of college, but most of us I'm sure will find a full-time position at job applying.

I do wonder though, what is it with the "real world" that scares us? I've been neurotically scrolling my LinkedIn connections that I've collected over the past year, but how do you even ask someone you're connected to to connect you to someone at MSNBC because they have a 3rd degree link with them? Is that allowed? What's the point of all this!
My friends and family keep telling me I'm going to be "fine." My best friend tells me no one has it figured out but at least I "know what I want." My mom most likely believes in me so much to think my current internship at WGN in Chicago will turn me into a high flying reporter the day I graduate. And my professor Sharon sent our Echo Magazine class a video of Oprah and all the greats revealing what age they were when they broke through. (Fun fact: At age 23, Oprah was fired from her first reporting job. It's oddly comforting knowing successful people once failed at something.)
Truth is, I'm terrified of stepping out of the safe, comfort of the 2nd floor lobby in the Journalism department. But at the same time, I'm jittery and excited because after I get my degree, I can do whatever I want... because I did whatever I wanted without it, too. You did too. We chose a career path, we chose our friends in college, we chose what internships we applied for... which people we followed up with via email, what made us happy. We can still choose and actually -- choose more. I don't mean to be that cliche, corny, obnoxiously optimistic person, but if I learned anything the past month is that by worrying about what's to come, you're not even absorbing what's in front of you now. I actually haven't even taken my graduation cap and gown out of the bag since I picked them up because I don't think I'm ready yet. I know I know, I'm being dramatic. But I'm also being ungrateful.
*Here is the part where the recent grad finds the true meaning of life and purchases a one-way ticket to Thailand.*
I took a Peace Studies class this semester and Dr. Silverstein is the most wonderful dreamer I've ever met. The last day of class his wife, Paula, came by to teach us a lesson or 1000 on life. We all stood around in a tight circle around an empty chair, and one by one took turns sitting in it and telling each other what we wanted. Some wanted happiness, some wanted adventure and a few wanted love. When it was my turn, I quietly said, "mine sounds selfish compared to theirs---" and Paula cut me off. "We do not judge. Not others, and most importantly we don't judge ourselves."
So I told Paula and my classmates that I wanted to be a successful journalist. And then everyone gently touched my shoulder and gave me affirmation. "You will be a successful journalist," they said a few times. "You will make a difference," we said to my friend, and "you will have adventure," we said to another. It was wild. And that was my last class of my undergrad career. (Basically we have a cult made of pixie dust and sunshine)
Do you think we're afraid to admit to ourselves what it is that we want? Maybe because we don't want to face the reality of how hard it might be to get it.
I genuinely think we should all take Paula's words to heart. There's nothing wrong with owning up to what our passions are regardless how far-fetched. Let's just face it straight up, we're graduating, jobless (and broke) and we don't have an answer for "what's next after graduation?" But we're okay. And we're going to figure it out on our terms and our watch.  Am I painfully cliche yet? I hear it happens upon  graduation. Also I hope someone gifts me Dr. Seuss's "Oh the Places You'll Go." I've always wanted a copy in the context of starting a new chapter in life.
Having gone to an art school (which is usually uncommon for Indian, Muslim girls...), I know what it truly means to live what you love, even though I stole that from Columbia College Chicago's many mottos. In my experience, college not only enforced what it is that I love and want to do, but it flipped my perspective on everything. It wasn't just what I thought anymore. Because when people of different backgrounds and different passions come together to work creatively... to make the effort to hold conversation, their way of seeing and thinking is transformed. We've all transformed from a nervous freshman to an overconfident sophomore to a reality-checking junior/senior, to someone who has grown and been blessed with the ability to connect and express, and the humble chance to learn and be a part of something bigger. And if you're reading this and have come this far, well done you. You've obviously learned tolerance and acceptance, ha. In all seriousness, someone once told me that it's good to be nervous, because it means you want it that bad. Imagine graduating college and feeling nothing?

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Things that happened in my life this year

So maybe this is becoming a thing. And maybe I secretly love that it is. At the end of every year, I have this strange pit in my stomach similar to the feeling one might get late August, realizing what an unproductive summer they had. I don't know about you but before every summer, I expect to land an internship with Vogue or CNN or something. Anyway, I digress don't I?

I don't exactly sit down when midnight strikes to reflect on my year or write down resolutions (I don't believe in them anymore) or stare into the sky wishing I did things differently. It's really not dramatic, but when the ball drops I do get overwhelmed. At the thought of a clean, new year and the idea that like the previous year, so much could happen. So much you don't know and haven't prepared for. But that in itself is silly, too. There is no way to know. On the flip side, if you just look back and THINK of all that already happened and all the life you experienced, it's a very filling feeling. You acknowledge that you had a purposeful year contrary to the lack of tangible things you've collected or earned. You know? It's extraordinary how many moments happen in 12 months. And for someone like me, who helplessly measures life and happiness by what was "accomplished," it's a comforting and exciting realization that even though nothing earth-shattering occurred, I still LIVED. A lot. So, before I squiggle off into an unnecessary tangent... here are SOME of the things that happened in my life this year. I'm having goosebumps wondering what could happen if everyone on earth made a list, too.

1.   I got an internship at Comcast Sportsnet Chicago. Last year between November and January, I pretty much applied for any and every internship in the entire city. And I had only two, perhaps qualifying resume tidbits to rely on (Columbia Chronicle reporter and an UNpaid internship I did with a fancy, Gold Coast magazine that made me want to jump in a pile of mud). So after a month of sitting at home (jobless and wasting away), I applied for the creative services department before the Spring semester began. I got called for an interview and remember sending a screenshot of the email to my brother within a second..... it was wild! I wore high heels to the interview.... I can barely walk bare feet so you can imagine how far behind I was walking from Justin, who would be my boss two weeks later. I didn't prepare for the interview because I knew Chicago sports and hoped every question had to do with the Bulls or the Bears. Justin and Jim (other boss) asked me about.... me. My likes, my dislikes, what I want to do in life and why really I'm sitting here. It was so honest. And actually, if I wasn't nervous as nervous as I was, I probably wouldn't have gotten the job. (Also, four months later, I asked the Digital Director if I could also get a shot in their department. And I'm still here!)

2. Taylor Swift birthday. "I don't know about you but I'm feeling 22...." La la la la. Confession: While I got ready for the day, I had "22" on repeat and sang at the top of my lungs. Luckily no one else was home but I don't think it would have stopped me. Twenty-two has been adventurous to say the least and not just because of my internship or India for my brother's wedding, but the amount of feelings I felt in ONE year. I loved 21, too... in fact, I wrote a blog post on turning 22 because I was having attachment issues with 21. I'm a mess. A happy, free, confused and lonely mess.

3. Best friend got engaged. I knew the day was bound to come some day, but when one day it actually does come, it's such a slap in the face. I can't tell if it's a possessive thing or if the whole growing up situation is just a lot to handle because it wasn't long ago that we were biting teenagers who vowed to be together forever. Whatever prompts the Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding falling off the bed reaction even though you were relatively  prepared... THAT. It all happens so fast! AND she's getting married in two weeks..... SARA don't leave me! (I know this is a very hyper reaction to an otherwise exciting time, but I no joke. Why do people have to get married gosh!)

4. My brother got married! It's nice to write that now because last year I said he got engaged. The best part of this was that it was really such a big fat Indian wedding. The Akbarbagh "flat" we all stayed in, the shopping, the last-minute auto hails to pick up lace, the lights...... ALL the things. And no matter how much I try not to be a sap, I truly cannot wait to spend the rest of my entire life with my new sister.

5. India trip what up! Hope that didn't make you squirm. This is separate from my brother's wedding because it was SUCH an adventure it almost felt like two different worlds. The wedding part separate from the late nights at Ram-ki-bandi parts. Sometimes literally because we'd slip out of our wedding gowns and into any random kurthi, squish into Akmal bhaya's car and drive off into the sunrise. Once, we ended up somewhere in Jubilee Hills at the top of a cliff overlooking all of Hyderabad. And that very morning, I got to do something I thought would never ever happen, ever. I ran through a gentle flock of birds.... and it was in fact one of the most magical moments of my entire life. Barbeque Nation, an exquisite land of all you can eat shrimps and fish and char boiled chicken and lychee cakes and pots of "firnee" and dancing mariachi servers, was also something I crave on the weekly.  I wish I could drop my memories in a Pensieve and have it mystically translate to words so I could justly capture the essence of our month in India. But for now, just know that it took me two whole weeks to recover once I stepped foot back home in suburban Illinois. (Ew, why did I have to say it like that?)

6. Cut my hair reaaal short. And since then, my entire family double-takes me for Fareeha, who is 14, at least twice a week. So anyway, I wanted to get a bob around my birthday (you know, new age new look etc etc) but my mom intensely talked me out of it, saying I would stick out more in India aka the land of misfit matchmakers. (Just kidding. A little.) And I too would have hated not being able to do cute hairstyle for my brother's wedding. Anyway! In September, I woke up one day and decided it was time....I was going to chop my hairs off. *dramatic build-up on purpose* My hair was past my chest and after it wasn't even touching my shoulders. Snip snip and down went my security blanket.... isn' that true? Our hair is something we so easily hide in. I felt so new and fresh and different, almost like I signed a sparkly new lease on life or something. I would get a haircut everyday if I could.

7. I made a new friend/mentor! Never thought I'd actually use the word "mentor." Siera is one of the new TV anchors at CSN and since meeting her, we started a sort of book club and have promised each other we'd find and eat every donut Chicago has to offer. I never thought I could connect with someone who is where anyone would dream of being. Not just because she's on TV, but because for a person who has "made it," she's as grounded as it gets. And... first Latina sports anchor in Chicago? You bet. She's been such a great outlet for all my last-semester-of-college doubts and anxieties. I hope she never reads this.... or if she does, hi Siera! just don't tell me you read this.

8. New family members! My couins Amir and Naushad got marrried, too! Wait wait, not to eachother. And just like that, we have two sister-in-laws that clicked so well it hurts my heart. In the best way a heart can hurt out of fullness.

9. I realized what it means to move on. Okay, now this one is kind of ambiguous and slightly dramatic but I don't know, I just felt like last year I naturally developed this habit of holding on. Dadi passed away last November.... and of course I'll never let her go and there'll always be an emptiness inside of  me, but because of that experience I went into 2015 with a stronger grip on life (if that makes sense). I used to cry in the bathroom for months, but I like to think it's a normal part of the recovery process. But at the same, I hated keeping it to myself. So I slowly started opening up to my cousins and my mom and said 'no, I'm still not okay'... even 8 months later. And it helped, a lot. Talking it through, accepting life.... meant I was moving on. But it didn't mean I was letting go.

I know I missed hundreds of other moments, big and small. But in the end, and probably always... every year is just miserable and magical...at the same time. (10 points to Gryffindor if you follow every T. Swift reference ever made.)

Happy New Year, my three readers!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Beddinge and Kindred Spirits

A couple weeks ago, (when I started to feel okay about being back from India... took me a minute) we went to Ikea to find my cousin a futon/bed situation for his studio. Ikea is the only thing that can come close to steering me towards the idea of 'settling down' someday.... but it escapes when we walk out the door, bagless and broke, licking a swirly frozen custard cone. But anyway, (see, I'm already out  the door) after we picked out a beddinge frame, located the components and lugged our cart to the check-out, I was convincing him to get a bamboo plant for himself, as it will add a touch of serenity to his place. (Btw, Beddinge means bed in Swedish. Just don't look it up.) He wasn't having it... so I said alright, I'll get you one myself and off I went in search of the perfect bamboo.

Little did I know, I'd find something so much more. (Does this make you want to read on? Just asking cause I'm trying that "building up suspense" thing with my writing.)

So I walk over to the bamboos and overhear a woman asking out loud, "how do you even pick the perfect one?" I'm still not sure who she asked or if she just kind of asked the universe, but I chimed in anyway.

"I know how!" I said and tilted my head towards the mysterious voice to find a face. She was an adorable middle-aged lady with a pixie cut. And so it began....

I told her how I have a curly bamboo myself and how I like to pick them. The spiral ones, also magically named 'Lucky bamboo, have lots of personality and thrive on virtually no maintenance. So she too decided on a spiral plant. But three seconds into scanning the bunch, she turned to me and excitedly said, "You pick it!"

Crap, I thought. SO much pressure. I didn't doubt my bamboo selecting ability, but for some reason I really wanted this woman to be pleased with whatever she walked away with. Like it was my life mission that day to make sure Mary finds the perfect bamboo.

After picking up and examining (again, under a TON of pressure mind you) at least seven plants, I finally decided. I made sure the leaves were long and full enough and didn't have a trace of yellow. She asked me why this one... and I winged an answer about the size and curvature of the stalk.

 I then told her about my theory that bamboo plants thrive off of your energy, but also give off their own. Feng Shui principles actually claim that bamboo attracts happy and good chi energy and since the plant is strong, it can energize your space and soul. Not sure what's true or not, but Mary and I believe there's no harm in seeking positivity.  We talked about this for a few minutes until she had the sudden urge to ask me what I do. And I didn't mind, I wanted to tell her. And in return I learned that her mother and father were political journalists in Washington, D.C. in the sixties. In fact, her mother was an actual IRL example of someone who fought for workplace equality during the feminist movement of 1960.

I geeked out, oh man.

Near the end of our chit chat, she knew something most people do not. My actual dream job, buried beneath many other dream jobs... that are really just easy answers for that very question. She told me how people these days are so "over" everything and it was refreshing to meet someone who wasn't. And inside, I went DUDE ME TOO.

My cousin was at the check-out so I had to hurry back with his bamboo, but I was so sad to cut our conversation short. I didn't know how to tell Mary I loved talking to her, because that reaction when you meet someone new is so generic now. Almost like it's a default reflex, even if you hated talking to that person. But... she said it first after adding in a bit that melted my heart to sipping chocolate. "Now every time I look at my bamboo, I'll think of you." Aaaaaaaaaaaaagh.

And then asked if she could hug me and you can guess how that ended.

I also said I live for these encounters... so random, so unplanned and accidental, but so fulfilling. And she said something about the universe that confirmed she is in fact, my kindred spirit.

I skipped back to my cousin and brother and told them every little detail over and over. On the way out, in the car, over lunch, all the way back home.

I couldn't get over it. A middle-aged woman in Ikea, a complete stranger... someone I felt connected to. It's so odd... so freakishly odd.

Of course, I do so hope to meet her again someday. I know she feels the same because she turned back around after I said bye to say just that.

One last also, I hope her bamboo grows forever and ever.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Adventures Await! But first... let me figure my feels out

HI! Pat on the back for me for coming back to this corner of the woods however many months later.

Well, I'm going to India this Sunday! My brother is getting married and all of us (yes, all) are packing up and heading off to an adventure. India --well, Hyderabad (because India India I have yet to explore) is a very interesting place. I love it and I never want to leave, but then at the same time I'm itching to see the Taj Mahal or the exquisite palaces of Rajasthan. But Hyderabad is where the heart is, yeah? Also where my brother's wedding is so I should just shut up and continue.

As you may know, I have severe attachment issues. (See previous blog post on attachment issues with one self. Weird, I know.) To tell you the truth, I'm still dealing with the loss of Dadi. More and more lately because I cannot help but think if she was still here and mentally healthy, how over the stars and moon excited she would be. Ramadan was tough, too. I kept remembering how my mom would hand her a khajoor (date) during iftar and she wouldn't know what to do with it. I miss her too much.

Our little trip is almost like the tangible "moving on" and "letting go" I've been struggling with since November. It's a new chapter for my brother, and an expedition without Dadi for us all... something that hasn't exactly happened before.

But I digress.

Back to my attachment situation.... *reader rolls eyes* Do you ever, in the midst of having the BEST DAY EVER, suddenly get quiet because you remember it's all temporary? That a month in India will be over in a snap and it'll all be back to "real life." (Whatever that is, I can never tell.) And then you remember that you have work the day after you land and then school starts in a week and it was all just a dream.  I get so sewn into the moment I'm in and the place I'm enjoying or the people I'm lovin' that I legitimately fear the end of it. It's so stupid isn't? I actually ruin the moment for MYSELF just by thinking thoughts.

 I'm a teensy tiny bit nervous that my energy levels will fluctuate between the above basically psychotic mind-frame and the aftermath of too much chai.

I expect too much, maybe just enough.... but still a lot. I think I just need to step away from myself and dig inside my head for that serendipitous, universe-believing freak I tend to be. That's my preferred version of me. Currently I might just be experiencing the side-effects of packing suit cases at 1 a.m. and when your Biscoff helplessly drowns in your tea. Not sure if that made sense but I think maybe I need a nap. Oh yeah, lately I'm referring to my "sleep" as naps. Dunno.

(Jeeeeez, 22 is weeeeeiiiiiiird.)

There's a whole adventure out there waiting to be captured by all of us. By out there I mean Hyderabad, of course. And if I could just get myself to TRULY FOR REAL go into it all with nothing in mind, I'll have done something right. And then maybe I should stop sounding like a crazy person. That would help.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I don't about you, but I'm (still feeling 21)"

It's not odd is it, that I'm more confused and (sad) about my birthday than I am happy and giddy? I don't know, maybe I got/grew attached to my age. Out of all the ages I've been, I think I liked me most at 21. Something about that number is so....errr, unstable but in the most normal and honest way. At 21, you aren't supposed to have it all figured out and sorted. You're supposed to just be and feel fresh, young and adventurous. You have to make silly mistakes and continue being awkward. I'm not sure which book these "supposed to's" are written in, but they're out there and it's very refreshing to know.

Even though I can convince so many people that I'm 17 or 18 on a daily basis, (but really that's generous because my face looks 15), being 21 felt good! And it made sense to me. I experienced so much life in the past year, so many feelings and moments... and also death. Maybe, a part of me is quietly realizing that for the first time ever, my grandma isn't here on my birthday. And because so much has been left behind, I'm hesitant about moving forward as a new age. Yes, age is JUST a number.... but it has so much power over you. When someone asks your age, and you say a number, it's like you catch yourself off guard. Really... that's how many years I've been alive? Like when 19 rolled into 20, it was such a whoahh moment because when we were 11, 20 seemed SO OLD. But life just happens and you don't even feel it moving. I think that's what's scary about growing up.

Every birthday (just like every new year in general), I used to complain about "being in the same place" as the year before and blah blah blah I suck and I'm unproductive and I'm going to rot in a loser hole. And sometimes it kind of was the case -- I cannot even begin to describe the length of my failed to-do lists. What I'm getting at is, for the FIRST TIME EVER, I actually did stuff! I landed my dream internship (one of), I learned how to deal with feelings and how to apply my spiritual center to the worldy part of my world....and I know exactly what career I want. I also feel better as a person....and I have this even more indescribable fascination with human beings. I love people. (Bleckh, sorry it's all MEEeeee. But it is my birthday. lol.)

 And a tiny part of me possibly thinks that 21 is just a good one for me, and when I move on from it....it won't be the same. Am I insane?

I especially loved 21 because I felt so freeeee. Particularly because I believe I've discovered the art of maintaining a conversation and weaving it into an actual conversation that goes beneath the surface (not, "I'm Zareen, nice to meet you!" (I mean...you really haven't met them if they know only your name and nothing more) More like: "Hi, I'm the the new intern! It's actually only my second day and my hair refuses to cooperate. Please don't look at my head!"- actual real life event. We are now work buds.)

I swear, it's a life changing skill. We should put "conversation enthusiast" on our resumes instead of exaggerated job descriptions.

Anyway, I'm having attachment issues, that's really what all this is about. So strange that we can even get attached to ourselves.... the version of us we actually like and want people to see. Not that age changes that.... but I think it's a normal fear. (I hope.)

Birthdays are still nice, and I like the idea that my birthday is not only mine. My mom was there, too. :)  *insert also, that recurring bit of how birthdays are not unbirthdays therefore special by default*

Okay but quick confession, I do plan on setting my alarm to T. Swift's song.

Because yes, everything will be alright ifff we just keep dancing like iiiit's....twentyyyy twoo oooh oooo. (Even if you feel 21.)

Be honest, all of the above is a side-effect of growing up, isn't it? Yuck.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

I'm having a confusing time saying goodbye to my orthodontist

Five years ago, I walked into my orthodontist's office an insecure and scrawny soon-to-be senior in high school. (Yes, I got braces pretty late and had to endure the awkward years probably longer than most.) My teeth were horrendous-- the two front ones kind of turned in on an angle, and though that sounds worse than they were, at that age even the slightest insecurity is huge. 

So for two and a half years, I regularly walked in and out of Dr. Golden's office. Sometimes to get my braces tightened or to get a tighter set of rubberbands, or to get the wires adjusted and brackets changed (still annoyed I never got colored ones... I think I thought I was too cool.). It was a monthly ritual, a very regular part of my life. 

It's a cool feeling to be a regular at some place. I've always wanted to be a regular at a quaint little coffee shop, but maybe it's more about belonging somewhere than it is about everyone knowing your name. 

I got my braces off a couple years ago, which is the tell old tale for everyone who has ever had braces. It's such a surreal and memorable moment --I remember licking my teeth and freaking out because I felt naked. And even after Dr. Golden's job was technically done, I returned every few months for the past two years so he could evaluate my retainer wearing and adjust them if needed. Just a month ago actually,  I even got new retainers made, something that doesn't happen unless you break your original pair. (obviously I was their favorite) They're bright gray and sparkly, and my intention was totally to redeem myself for all the boring bracket choices in appointments past. A part of me couldn't help but think it was a parting gift, and come to think of it, what if it was? Maybe they read my inability to let go and attempted to make it hurt less?? It's possible. 

So it was indeed time, I had my last appointment this week. I'm kind of big on lasts and firsts, I'm not entirely convinced it's a healthy thing to obsess over but it gives me something to mull over and I don't know...come up with more life theories or something. 

It was very definitive; Dr. Golden knelt down beside my chair and handed me a letter and said how much he enjoyed being my orthodontist and that he can't be around forever. I promised him I'd continue to wear my retainers for the years to come to which he responded, "Please do. They're too good to let slip away." And we talked about school for a few minutes and he said good luck about five times before I finally broke free from my adolescence. I'm painfully dramatic, you have every right to send me tweets/comments about why I'm such a loser. 

And then, I walked out after waving a (hopefully not too cheerful in an effort to mask heartache) goodbye to all his assistants, who I'd grown pretty conversational with. I really hope they meant it when they said they looked forward to my visits and that it's so sad that I won't be needing them anymore. Welp, that's not true!! I DO NEED YOU. 

 I think I'm actually having attachment issues with my orthodontist, like an actual, legitimate issue with moving on. It's not that surprising though, I had a similar sadness when I got my braces taken off. And that's something that's not supposed to happen! A lot of it was because I got so comfortable having them, they became a big part of my identity. I had them when I finally started loving highschool and became friends with people I'd never talked to and when I graduated HS and felt the weight of the "real-world" as everyone darted their own ways once the summer was over. I had them when I went to India for my cousin's wedding, where a peculiar lady came up to me and straight up said I didn't look good and that I should take "those" off. I didn't even know who she was. I had them on in my first semester of college when everything is new and terrifying, and when I took a singing class for funzies. I'm a shower singer... note to world: the shower is a magical place where you might even sound like Beyonce. You are not Beyonce in the  classroom. But I loved that class! It was the bravest I'd ever everrrr been in my entire life. 

But anyway I digress...I was saying how I could hide behind my braces. Kind of even as a symbol of imperfection and the idea of being "out there" in the world as a metal mouth had its ups (psychologically I mean...if you can be super confident and collected with braces, you can do that and more without em).

 I've always been comfortable in my skin, even if sometimes insecure. Without braces, I was just another person with "nice teeth." Wow, I'm both a snob and a sob story. So sorry. 

I liked that my ortho knew me as an awkward teenager and as a semi-confident college student. Moving on felt wrong.... scary and so official. And maybe because our 20-somethings are complicated years to begin with, any sort of change has us hanging on to the normal and regular and things that have always just been, unchanged. 

I love putting my retainers on at night, and with that statement I will claim loserdom. But it's true, I'm very low-maintenance when it comes to my appearance-- makeup for me means an eyelash curler. So yes, my teeth are my accessory in a weirdly literal way. 

My orthodontist was someone who changed something about me I didn't like. No more appointments to get this tweaked or that tightened. Now it's just me. As I am. Or as I've become.

 (insert laughing-crying-tears streaming-down-face emoji as a metaphor for entire post because I actually seriously IN REAL LIFE just wrote about my orthodontist)