Twenty-One: London Style

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Just one of the three cases of cupcake options at Primrose Bakery in Covent Garden!

As a lot of y’all know, yesterday was my 21st birthday! It was not nearly as exciting or over-the-top here in London as I imagined. I guess it’s because it’s not as big a deal here, since the drinking age is 18.

I want to go ahead and say thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday yesterday, and made the day fantastic. Thanks especially to my friends who I got a chance to FaceTime with (y’all have no idea how much that made my day)…mom, dad, Jackson, Jordan, Meme, Cate, and Erin. It was so great to talk to the people who I miss so much.

My day started out like any other: I got up, got dressed, grabbed breakfast, went to class, and went through my new London routine. We talked about Twelfth Night in class, and it got really feminist and I just loved it. Then, Sarah and I went to Primrose Bakery to get some cupcakes, thanks mom!

Sarah had dinner with a lifelong friend, so I went back to my dorm to take a quick nap before I went to dinner. I got to FaceTime a bunch of the aforementioned people, and popped a bottle of champagne to enjoy with my cupcakes to celebrate my turning 21. It was nice to get to catch up with my hometown friends while celebrating.

I’m not going to play innocent here, the drinking age in most of Europe is 18, so going out to a bar and ordering myself a drink on my 21st birthday wasn’t my first time doing so. (I’m still excited for my “first legal drink” in the United States when I get home in December.)

I grabbed a drink with a few friends before they left, then waited for Sarah to meet me (she was going to meet all of us for drinks, but everyone else decided to cut the night short early I guess). It was a little weird just sitting there in the bar by myself, but I guess that’s what being 21 and adulthood are all about, right? Getting outside your comfort zone and being confident and going places by yourself?

What struck me the most was how different this birthday was from any other birthday I’ve had as an “adult”. When I turned 18, I took the SAT, went to rehearsal for the school musical until 7PM, went home and went to bed. When I turned 19, I was just a baby college freshman with only a few friends. We weren’t close enough for them to throw me a party or anything, so my mom and my brother came up and took me to get dinner. When I turned 20, I almost pulled an all-nighter the night before to study for my history midterm. I went to my classes, took a nap, spent a few hours in the library, and went to dinner with my friends. We celebrated with cake and a movie night the following weekend.

This year, I didn’t feel the same love surrounding me that I had the past three years – that probably has a lot to do with the fact that I’m in a foreign country pretty much by myself, and my favorite people are over 4,000 miles away. Getting to FaceTime with some of those people was helpful, but it was nothing like having my roommate/best friend wake me up at 5AM by jumping on my bed to my favorite Rhianna song.

dsc_0012I understand the validity of my feelings and that I’m allowed to miss people when they’re an ocean away, but I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea: I LOVE LONDON. I am loving my study abroad experience and everything it has brought into my life, but it’s tough. It is teaching me so much about myself. There are just a lot of emotions that you encounter when you study abroad that I don’t think anyone prepares you for — especially when you do a program where you don’t know anyone at all. 

I really did have an amazing birthday – champagne and cupcakes and getting to FaceTime some of my favorite people was really all I could’ve asked for (other than them all being here but for some reason, I don’t think that would’ve worked out so well). Going out when I didn’t really have a group of people to go with or solid plans made it feel a little more awkward than I intended.

I am so thankful for every single person who made me feel loved yesterday — y’all are the reason I’m having the time of my life over here in Londontown. Without your support, I don’t know where I would be.

Cheers to 21 years!


lydia.

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Changes

I sat down elevent minutes ago and wrote an entirely different post. Then I realized that those words aren’t the words that I need to say today. Those words have their time, and they have their place, but it’s not today.

Today is for change.

I have been really busy this semester, more than I ever thought I would be, but that hasn’t stopped me from getting it all done.

But one thing I realized in these past few weeks is that I have neglected Thinking in Fragments. This was supposed to be a journal, a honest place where I could remember exactly how I felt at almost any given moment.

Somehow, I found myself pinning stuff to a secret blogging board about SEO and how to have great content posts. That isn’t what I want. I want a blog where I can put my true feelings out there, where I can just let some stuff live and grow. Maybe post some of my writing, start to build a portfolio for whenever I figure out what I want to do. Maybe then I could tell people I have a blog and I wouldn’t feel my face get hot as soon as the words leave my mouth.

This blog moved from being my true feelings to something fake. Not that bloggers who blog for a living are fake or anything. I think that what they are doing is fantastic, and I wish I had the dedication, time, and heart to do that.

I want Thinking in Fragments to be something where I can just put my soul into words and figure out how I like those words to sound together, and move them around until I find the way that flows the most honestly and beautifully to me.

My entire life, I’ve said that honestly is truly one of the most important things to me. If you’re honest with me, then we can eventually work out any troubles that may come between us. And I feel like I haven’t been very honest on this blog. I want to be completely honest and myself and use Thinking in Fragments to help me figure out what else is important to me.

And I want to figure out what those “fragments” in the title are. I want to figure them out and help them find the rest of the words they need to become the complete sentence that they have the potential to become. Because I want to become my own complete sentence. And honestly, this is the only way I can think of to do that.

I’m tired of trying to put on this front. I want honesty and truth, and I want to be able to figure it out myself. So there are probably going to be some changes coming to Thinking in Fragments. I hope you’ll stick around to help me see what they are. If this isn’t your groove, that’s completely fine. I just want to learn how to be there for myself, and I hope that by piecing together the fragments, I will be able to.

lydia.

Four Brown Chairs

In my favorite coffee shop, there’s a corner by the window. Currently it houses…

Four brown chairs.

Three cups of coffee.

Two empty plates.

One friendship.

We live in a world of cliches. I am thankful for cliches. Friendship is often considered a cliche. Why though? Why is something that is so important, something that keeps so many people alive, well, and happy considered a cliche?

What would we want to consider something so beautiful and so important a cliche? A cliche is something overused, reoccurring. Rarely are cliches considered a good thing. I, on the other hand, love cliches. I love the cheesiness of it all, I love the obnoxiousness of it all. I love it all.

I love my friends like I love cliches. I love the cheesiness that comes with squishing four faces on an iPhone screen to take a selfie. I love the obnoxiousness of laughing and crying with your friends when watching movies. I really just love it all.

A lot of the time (more often than not), I’ll just get bursts of affection for my friends. I really love these bursts of affection, because it shows that the little things really do matter and really can be a genuine reminder of how much I love my friends and how much I love being around them.

I got one of these bursts today. I got one just now. We aren’t doing anything special. We aren’t even talking. We’re sitting at our favorite coffee shop (it’s like our own little Central Perk). We each have our own little brown chair (I’m next to Jordan, across from Erin, and diagonal from Kelsey). Between the four of us, we have three cups of coffee (almond milk latte for Erin, chai latte for Jordan, and french vanilla flavored house coffee for me). On the tables between us, there’s two empty plates (from Jordan’s cherry muffin and my chocolate chip scone).

But the most important of these images is one you can’t see. It’s not the way Erin is sitting sideways in her chair, reading her favorite book. It’s not the way Kelsey is listening to music, focused on her reading for art history. It’s not the way Jordan is filling out her job application for this summer, sitting up straight and determined.

The most important of these images is the air of friendship between us. All that we’ve been through, and all the memories we’ve made in the short time we’ve been friends.

I can’t simplify any friendship into simply meanings and symbols and ideas and thoughts and memories. But I can tell you about some of the most important things through those symbols. I can tell you about how I feel in this moment, sitting with my friends, at our favorite place.

I’m thankful for this friendship, no matter how cliche. I’m thankful for this place, where so many of our memories already have been made, and where I know so many more memories will be made.

So in simplicity, I’m thankful for these four brown chairs, the three cups of coffee, the two empty plates, and this one, amazing friendship.

Thanks guys,

Lydia

That Awkward Year

Nineteen.

It’s an odd year. I’ve been nineteen since October, but it feels just like eighteen. I’m not exactly a teenager anymore (despite “teen” being in the name, I think the real teenage years with all the angst end after seventeen), but I’m not a twentysomething yet.

It’s a bizarre age. I can do all the things I could do when I was eighteen…buy a lottery ticket, go see an R rated movie, I think you see my point.

Nineteen sort of feels like a holding cell, or waiting room for the capital R “Real World“. Because twenty-one will be the last age with a sort of reward for getting older. And that honestly scares me. I really, really like the age I am now. I’ve loved the age I have been since I was seventeen. I feel like soon (probably three and a half years) this waiting room of ages is gonna empty, and my name will be called to cross the stage (hopefully at graduation) and enter the Real World.

As afraid of the Real World as I am, I think it’s just something I’m going to need to embrace. There is no reason to alter anything just so I can deal with this Real World, but I need to dive in headfirst, whenever the Real World decides to present itself.

Thankfully, I have a few more years before the Real World is actually coming. But in college, you’re surrounded by people who are really about to enter the Real World, and that makes you very aware of it.

I have ten months left of nineteen, and then the teenage years will be behind me.

Who wants to help me decorate this waiting room and live it up until my name is called? We’ve got three and a half years to make it count.

~Lydia