You want to know what happened.
I spent the summer away from blogging to rejuvenate my social life. Pry myself from the comfort of my bed and Netflix binges; remember how it felt to find thrill and wonder in the world. I would hop on planes, attend concerts, reacquaint myself with dresses and high heels, perhaps I’d even get laid. All I had to do was dust off the “social” aspect of my “social introvert” personality and possibilities would fall at my feet. In one short summer, I’d go from dull spinster to lively bachelor girl.
Here’s how my summer kicked off:
Memorial Day Weekend in New Jersey for overdue bonding with my big brother and sister-in-law. I also took a solo jaunt to Manhattan to hang out with my longtime Internet friend, Amaris (of My Table for One). We walked Central Park, traded dating war stories over drinks at Tao, and toured the Meat Packing District. Over a cathartic conversation about everything from the madness of Twitter to the benefits and woes of being support professionals, I discovered how people fall in love with the Big City; especially if marriage and parenthood aren’t in your play book. (And I experienced the glory of Shake Shack burgers while sitting on the floor at Penn Station.)
The following weekend, I flew to Philadelphia for The Roots Festival with my two favorite travel companions (a pair of extroverted, but conscientious Aries who always respect my need to recharge). It turned out to be a historic show, featuring one of Mobb Deep’s last performances before Prodigy’s death a few weeks later. Also featured: SWV performing the Pharell-produced “Use Your Heart” with The Roots band. (Yes, I threw up my hands and squealed like a delirious R&B loving auntie would). Oh, and I ate chicken and ribs during the Solange set with one of my favorite rappers, who is as witty and cool in person as he is in his music.
I spent the rest of June back in Cleveland trying and failing to top that whirlwind week. I took a lot of pictures of the lake and spent way too much money in local bars and restaurants. As much I love discovering local treasures, dining out every weekend wasn’t what I had in mind for my remarkable summer. I had to find alternative forms of entertainment.
In July, I had an epiphany.
My beef with the dullness of 30something life was a matter of perspective. Based on the monolithic nature of my social media feeds, your thirties look like this: engagements, weddings, baby showers, child rearing, home buying, expensive pairs of shoes you can finally afford, international travel (complete with staged photo shoots), black tie events, trendy brunches, kids’ birthday parties, and nauseatingly nuclear couples outings.
I was agitated with the world because I experienced it through the narrow prism of my cellular device. If I wanted out of my rut, I had to remove the filters and see the world. From there, my summer shifted from proving #ImNotWashed to rediscovering the wonders of raw life.
I still did fun, party things. Went to #TrapKaraoke (had a blast). Saw Bruno Mars in concert (for free, at that). Think I may have worn a dress and heels on two occasions? And there was the one night I skipped down the streets of downtown Cleveland drinking a tequila-spiked Baja Blast from Taco Bell Cantina. (Best. Idea. Ever.)
But I went a little deeper.
First, I cut back on social media. I spent ten blissful days Twitter-free, during which I recommitted to journaling. I wrote every day, for three weeks, cataloging my thoughts and observations for an audience of one and reconnecting with my unedited mind.
I attended Literary Cleveland’s Inkubator Conference, a free, day-long event for local writers to hear craft talks, participate in workshops, and commune with fellow writers. I didn’t say much that day; preferring to be a fly on the wall. During one of the talks, I scribbled “Storytelling >>>>> Content” in my journal and vowed to incorporate more craft elements into my blog writing.
I did touristy stuff. Toured the Observation Deck at Terminal Tower (one of the best views of the city), wandered street festivals by myself, and tried frog legs for the first time (they didn’t taste like chicken).
Until this summer, I hadn’t attended a church service in ten years. After years of passive curiosity, I visited Unitarian Universalist services and remembered how it felt to spend quality time in the presence of forces larger than myself. While I’m not ready to be part of a religious community, I agree with their values and approach to religious life. It’s nice knowing there’s a place for me if I want to join a community of like minds and hearts.
I signed up for my first fundraiser, #NAMIWalks, an annual walk for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, with an initial fundraising goal of $100. To date, I’ve raised $600. (There’s still time to donate if you’re interested).
One Sunday afternoon, I drove by my childhood home. I remembered the quiet, bookish little girl who lived there; a girl who dreamed of the world beyond her block. That girl? She just wanted to grow up on her own terms. She didn’t want to do everything, she just didn’t want to be told what she couldn’t do. By society. By a man. By circumstances. She wanted a degree, a good job, her own money, and to ride down the street in the summer blasting her favorite songs. The 33-year-old, single, childless, gainfully employed woman who drove down her old block with the sunroof open, blasting Master P’s “Bourbons and Lacs” was my hashtag GOALS before I let my feeds tell me what 30something life was supposed to look like.
Yes, that woman often prefers her bed and a Game of Thrones marathon on a Saturday night to parties at the House of Blues where she might catch people having sex in a bathroom (That actually happened. Awkwarrrrd).
I spent the summer away from blogging to prove I’m not washed. In the process, I discovered at best, I’m a curious explorer; looking to see, hear, taste, smell, and touch as much of her world as possible. I’m a craftswoman; in love with and in constant awe of the power of the written word. I am unencumbered; free at any moment to transform or alter the course of my life without permission or negotiation.
Washed or not, I am exactly who I wanted to be when I grew up.
*And I did manage to get laid.