Status Update

Okay, so here’s what’s happening.

My body did me so good for the past three months.

I never got sick through all of the hummus and pita, repelling off of waterfalls, smoking my first cigarette, jeeping through Jordan…the list goes on for 90 days.  I made it through all of that without a sniffle and in the last couple of days I’ve officially crashed and burned.

Not a pity post.

The point of the above information is that last night I wrote a blog about how much I miss you guys; my family, lovees, hawkeyes, greenheart babes, and my new people here who I haven’t cafe’d with in a week because I’ve been in my bed. I wrote the post, some people read it, and it sounded really sad.

I’m not sad, I’m sick!

I’m sick and I wanted my big bed, own room, American chicken noodle soup (I tried to make my own here, it tasted like carrot water), and wrote a post about everything I’m realizing I’m really missing, which is all of you.

I wrote about how with you, my stone cold pack of weirdos, I have found people who are letting me be all the sides of me I always kept away, the sides I didn’t know existed, the sides that are ugly and weird and uncomfortable, and I get to be those sides and smile right now because you love me more for them.

I’m sick, I was listening to all of my sad, quiet music on iTunes, and I wrote a somber post.

In a couple of days I won’t be binge-watching Gilmore Girls in my bed (I’ll actually be bike riding through northern Israel stopping for wine and cheese along the way, for real) but I’ll still miss all of you.

Squeezes are coming, February 2016, and I can’t wait.

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Because I’m Happy

You probably read my posts and think, “She has no idea how lucky she is…”

There have been a lot of times throughout the years when I do think, yeah, things are good, but somethings missing; usually, most of the time, that something feels like it should be a boy.

Right now, it feels like everything is there.

After weeks of planning and days of wondering if I was crazy, I said be seeing you, got on a plane, and left my whole life in Chicago. To a lot of people, this move looks like a pause from reality, some time to mess around, live in a foreign country, and work towards figuring out what I think I want to be when I grow up; and they are right.

But the bigger reason why I picked up and left everything was because I had (probably always will have) a lot of things to figure out. Some I’m just starting to delve into, some I won’t even get to before I leave.

It’s the normal issues we all have, that most of us have, and never talk about; so they feel like these big secrets until you open your month to the right person about them and see that you really aren’t alone. This awakening began before I fled North America, and it has continued in the most positive way since landing in the Middle East.

My blogging mind isn’t ready to share all that I’m learning about myself, all that’s changing and growing and forming, but I will tell you that this 23rd year of my life has been the most freeing, refreshing, and vulnerable couple hundred days.

I’m thinking some of you have experienced this stage in your life as well, and if you haven’t, know that it’s coming. Static and stuck in your ways is not how things have to play out. Find your person, or if you’re like me, your people, and start talking.

How much more could you squeeze out of life if you weren’t so afraid to show all the weird, ugly, confusing, quirky, not so #flawless sides of who you are?

I’ll tell you, for me, it’s more than I thought possible.

I know how lucky I am.

Who Run the World…

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These are the girls I play tennis with every Monday and Thursday night.

They come from different backgrounds, religions, households, and socio-economic groups. You don’t see a mix like this coming together and laughing at YouTube videos or taking snapchats during this time of extreme divide. This group of teenage girls break all the rules from 6-8 PM and are an example to all adults who advocate for this terrible separateness.

Two nights a week they come together to escape from the trouble that is their daily lives. The conditions they live in (the neighborhoods I avoid once the sun sets), their single parent homes (because Israel does not recognize some of their fathers as citizens), the necessities they are missing, extracurriculars they can’t afford, and the lack of a safe place to be themselves that I took for granted as a 14, 15, and 16 year old.

The goal of the program is to make them feel empowered. On Mondays they sit in a circle and speak with a woman about different topics like feminism and sex ed. Once all the awkward giggles are out they move on to strength-training and kick my butt in all things exercise. After I catch my breath, we walk to the courts and goof around for 45 minutes. Their first session on Thursdays is a lesson on nutrition and a chance to ask which cereal is the healthiest. Some of them sit next to me and translate the discussion so I can make a fool out of myself and pick the wrong answer to whether or not fat can turn into muscle (they all knew the right answer).

I’m constantly impressed by their intelligence and resilience. These girls are changing my life and they have no idea. I’m worried about not having enough time to adventure around the entire world; they just want to know what candy corn tastes like and if Halloween is as cool as it looks from 6,000 miles away.

You don’t need to know their whole story to learn something from them. Take that picture above and check out all their smiles. They’re not growing up like we did. For most of them, there is no escape from life except the tennis center. Own all that you have. Remember the years you spent slamming your door and pouting over your cellphone being taken away. Look at where you are now. Think about the weekends you get to plan. All that your futures hold. The door you get to walk out of and return home to every night without the slightest bit of dread. Those girls up there are going to rule the world. They’ll get their taste of candy corn and use the voices they’re developing these two nights a week and make a positive impact whether in Israel or beyond.

For now the tennis center is their safe place.

And they are my escape.