Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Honeymooning in Hogsmeade

Hogsmeade was always that little village by my home--the home I knew through books and through movies. The Harry Potter experience was given a second chance to breathe life into a generation that may not otherwise be as deeply exposed to the series as I was, and for that, I am truly grateful.

(We got to see some Diagon Alley construction, as they gear up to create the Gringott's addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.)


















I remember a time when I dreamed of this moment. That I could experience the world within a world that I read about for years; the place I always escaped to; the place that I always wished I would be a part of. Like many children, I often forgot I was just as much a part of it as it was a part of me. For where would this world be without the ones who visited it so often and longed for more? We certainly wouldn't be able to visit now as I have, and many others. There is so much to this world that I got to see firsthand; I'll never forget this trip.

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Some highlights to this trip included Moaning Myrtle moaning and whining in the bathroom while I tried to pee, having dinner at the Three Broomsticks, getting Luna Lovegood's wand, getting a Ravenclaw stein, getting a Ravenclaw hat, getting a Ravenclaw journal--all three Ravenclaw things, of which, go with my Ravenclaw scarf that my friend Amber bought me as a graduation gift back in December--drinking butterbeer and pumpkin juice, and, well, everything. Just everything. 

Dare I say, it was magical.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Here We Are



February 21, 2014, Trey and I got married. There were other pictures taken, but I haven't seen any of those yet. The ceremony was short and at the courthouse, but it was just what we wanted. We spent the rest of the night entertaining family (and a few close friends) at a reception way down south at his parents' house.

Now, here are some pictures I do have of my best friend and I, and the courthouse group:





I am now married, which is a little weird to say, but it doesn't feel any different. It just means I get to be around Trey 24/7 now so I can constantly annoy him.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

To Be Continued...



In two days I will be married. Not only will I be moving out of a life I've known for 23 years, but I'll be moving away from a place I've known for 23 years. Even still, I cannot wait.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Life Just Is



My dreams get weirder the older I get. I've found myself dreaming about living in distant lands, or places at home that look nothing like home. I dream that I'm still a student, or that I'm a warrior. I've even dreamt that I was on my way to Hogwarts upon the Hogwarts Express. (God, how I desperately wished that one were true.) Experts say that the dreams we wake up remembering are sometimes a mashup of the several dreams we have throughout the night. While the science behind dream exploration is interesting, I find it more interesting for it to be just a mystery. Why did I have a man that rivals Bane when he's had a shot of the Titan serum coming after me in one dream? Why did, the very next night, I dream that I was in Seattle with the Beatles? These are things that probably don't need an answer, much like life.

I hate to subscribe to "everything happens for a reason," though I do believe it. I believe in fate, but I also believe that life is full of many experiences, losses, gains and mishaps that cannot always be explained. Life itself is unpredictable. Those who spend too much time trying to predict it aren't spending enough time experiencing what is. Bad things happening to people doesn't have to do with whether or not that person was good or bad. Sometimes, the wrong move, no matter how subtle, can inadvertently cause a bad thing to happen. That's just how consequential and uncalculated life really is. I can be a very spiritual person, but just because I am doesn't mean I believe my life will pan out like a fairy tale. It already hasn't. It just means I have comfort in knowing that I can handle whatever comes my way.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day



Sometimes during our darkest times, we have to examine what it is that makes us happiest. It's better to accept the bad and move on than it is to dwell in it. Among many things I have learned in my life, that was probably the hardest lesson to learn--and I'm still learning it. People take journals for granted. You can freely say what you are feeling; the words are only for you.

I try to not write about what hurts but hope for better things to come, or words that are full of the love and happiness I can presently be thankful for. And if I do write about what hurts, I eventually move on, because I can't afford to hurt more than what's healthy for me. And only you can decide that for yourself.

It's Valentine's Day, and even though I do not celebrate it much myself with Trey (it's just so hard to even go out when the roads are swarmed with chocolate and rose-buyers trying hard to impress their loved ones), I do appreciate that, in some way--even if Hallmark has a bit to do with it--there is another holiday devoted to love. It's kind of comforting.

"Wherever you go, go with all your heart." - Confucius

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*If you have not purchased Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year by Demi Lovato, you should. It's a very good book for staying positive and following your heart and appreciating others.

**Also: I'm getting married in one week!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ice, Ice Baby



I woke up to white on the ground, but it wasn't the soft anomaly from last time. And I say "anomaly" with the same amount of appreciation as before. Georgians are more accustomed to ice than we are snow, but the ice sometimes comes in a white blanket that we call "snow." It's all we have. So when we do get actual snow, it's a blessing in disguise. The dogs remembered the fun from last time and ran outside to enjoy the icy ground--they didn't know the difference. It was nice seeing them enjoy something and not nitpick at the particulars of it. In a way, I learned something from their giddiness today.

The only real downfalls of an ice storm of this magnitude: power outages, 20 mph winds, trees falling down and, of course, ice everywhere. I'm just praying that everyone hit today with the ice storm stays as safe as possible.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Caffeine and Exhaustion



I remember rushing after class to meet them for coffee. One a fabulously gay man, the other an ex-sorority girl whose dog stole my heart just as much as she. "Venti iced coffee with half-and-half and a shot of toffee nut," we both said. I got that order from Allison. She would always order the same thing, and it made me laugh. When she would switch it up, she usually only changed the flavor shot. She was predictable in that way, but I loved it. We had our coffee routine. I spent so much time outside of class and the office with Allison and Anthony. Anthony was the routine-breaker. He would be the one to order something a little different once in awhile, but he, too, had a fondness for iced coffee. I think the large iced coffees became extensions of our arms for awhile; I even felt withdrawals without them. But a college schedule rarely leaves room for sleep. On good or bad days, depending on perspective, I could even be seen with a trenta. The size of the cup even frightened me the first time I dared to order it.

Classes were interesting with them. I picked up new routines I had no idea I needed. I found new ways to define all-nighters. We had our own nook in the library that we called home. I let them into the office to hide from the outside world, like the rest of the editors often did. We confided in one another, we made each other laugh.

"I'm not used to having a swarm of friends, anymore," I said. "I think sometimes they mostly just like me because I'm the editor so they are kissing up." Allison laughed, but she could tell I was being serious. "I mean, yeah, probably," she said honestly. "But they probably like you, too. You're fun." Allison saw that vulnerability in me and wouldn't let me give in; she was a friend. I saw inside her world; it was a vortex of Greek letters and the rattiest bars in Remerton. I never did feel like one of the sorority girls, but she had friends on the other side who seemed tame. They let me into the weird dramas of their regular life and I thanked the stars that that wasn't me. "Where do they find these girls?" I asked. They would laugh at that.



"She thinks she's going to steal my boyfriend or something," one of Alli's friends said while we sat waiting for the barista to call our names. "But she doesn't realize that we're pretty much gonna' get married."
"Yeah," Alli added.
"Yeah, I mean.... It's like a done-deal," the friend said again. "Everyone knows it."

There were sagas and chronicles to these stories and I often had to play catch-up to find out more, but it was entertaining, at least. I knew I would always hear about it again in the library or at Starbucks. We frequented both of those places so often I knew the regulars and the workers well. Alli and her friends spent much of their time in both places and had long before I met them.

"I've been here for too long!" Allison and Anthony would exclaim. "It's been like 7 years." They made that joke regularly, but it wasn't a joke. They really had been in school that long--in some way or another. Anthony had taken time off and Allison had switched majors and had to take classes over. They saw the university at its best and worse.



"No!" Allison said to me one day. "You have no idea..." I was vulnerable again, and we were facing a swarm of overwhelming finals. Graduating often leads a bit of doubt in the back of your mind if you're worthy of such a diploma.
"Yeah, Jen," Anthony interrupted. "You're so good."
"You can tell, just the way the professors look at your stuff compared to others," Allison said. "There's a huge difference. You were meant to do this."

Part of me wanted to assume they were just being nice. That was something, without reason, I always assumed of people. But I knew that they were being sincere, and it couldn't have come at a better time. "Thanks," I said, slightly blushing, and took another sip of my coffee.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Catching Up



I knew that this was the right time to see them again. Melody and I had planned it all out with Katie and Ellen. We sat in the car--a very short drive, not but five minutes and we were there. We used to make the drive--or walk--a lot, years before. That was before we fell apart; before we started to find ourselves. It's hard to hold onto friends when you seem to be all going in different directions--when you're everywhere but by each other's sides. But those old sayings that seem to portray time as a cure-all for anything must be right, because here we are, in Ellen's driveway. I felt my stomach flip a little. I almost couldn't believe we were doing this. So much time had passed, and Melody and I had discussed this so much in the past, that it was hard to think that we could possibly be leaving ourselves wide-open again to what we originally walked away from; but the minute we stepped through the door, we hugged and couldn't seem to let go.



No time had passed, we were frozen, we were ourselves. Perhaps that happens when you've known people for so long--so much history, good or bad. We swapped stories, reminisced about the years we have missed full of stories and trials and triumphs in love and loss. "I'm so glad we did this," Katie said over and over again. I was happy, too.

Throughout the night there was music and dancing--mostly bad grooving and a session of the Cupid Shuffle. Katie, Ellen and I drank a bit of booze, while Melody, still feeling off with a cold, watched as Ellen fell further into a stupor (which made the Cupid Shuffle more entertaining).  The night was chilly, but hardly too cold to bear. We stepped outside and realized just how nice it felt, how much the color of our cheeks needed a reprieve. By the pool was time for "girl talk." There were stars everywhere in the sky above us; I missed that most about Ellen's house. Her neighborhood was never polluted by lights, you could see everything. I took a deep breath and felt the air wash over me. The cold cement relaxed me. Katie told us a few "secrets," and we laughed together.

"We were only together for less than 24-hours and we were already swapping secrets," Melody joked the next day in the car.
"Yeah, that was great," I responded. "And none of our secrets were really secrets, either."

We knew each other too well.



Well into the night we sat on Ellen's bed talking and listening to music that Melody and I both knew they hadn't heard. "We need to swap music, guys," they said. A plan for another time before I leave. A chance to reconnect again and call them my best friends. Another chance to hug them and say "I love you" and mean it.

In the morning, we ate cold slices of our leftover pizza and talked some more. I woke up to rustling and saw them all slowly rising, too. We talked about religion, church, politics, girls we knew in high school who are pregnant, have boob jobs, are married, or all three. With Katie, Ellen, and always, Melody, I felt at home. And the word meant more to me than it ever had. Not because soon I'll be miles away, but because I was reminded how wonderful it is to have something to call "home."