On Gator Balls and Tax Returns

Something strange is happening to me.

Coming home from work today, I stopped at the grocery store so I wouldn’t have to eat take-out (again). I got a movie from RedBox, then I bypassed the liquor store and came straight home. Realizing that my W2 had finally shown up in my mailbox, I promptly put my groceries away then pulled out my laptop to access TurboTax. Grabbing my accordion file folder with the rest of my tax information in it and accessing my “Charity Receipts” gmail folder, I quickly knocked out my taxes. Despite the fact that Tax Day is April 15th, I completed my returns 76 days in advance. Then I cooked dinner, and here I am.

Sometimes, it feels really good to be a responsible adult. Isn’t that odd? The best part about being an adult is that, sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get to choose what side of being an adult you want to be. Tonight, it was nice to be able to choose “Responsible Adult.” Yesterday, it was nice to be able to choose “Irresponsible Adult.” Maybe not irresponsible, per se, but exercising the ability to Choose Your Own Adventure.

Instead of being “Responsible Adults” and doing things such as cleaning the house and paying bills and doing laundry, The Mister and I went to a movie. We went bowling with booze. We ate gator balls, cheese curds, and wings. We stayed up too late watching TV that rots our brains. We did two “Responsible Adult” things all day – The Mister went for a jog, and I gave the dog a bath. This was a perfect reason not to go jogging.

Ann Perkins jogging

Ann Perkins would have bathed the dog with me. She knows the truth.

Sometimes, you need to be a Choose Your Own Adventure Adult. Other times, you need to be a Responsible Adult. It’s nice when you have the option of which Adult you want to be. Though growing up can be hard, it doesn’t always have to be The Worst. When you can choose how you want to be an adult, that’s when it is fun to actually be an adult.

There’s No Place Like Home.

Despite the chaos of being picked up by a tornado, dropped in a fairyland, and melting the crazy green with who was chasing her, Dorothy’s life was fairly simple. She knew where she was from, and even though she wasn’t always sure where she was in Oz, she had a clear yellow path to follow, and she knew where she was going – home. Why? Because there’s no place like it.

While that is a lovely sentiment to be sure, it’s not that easy for all of us. Sure, there’s no place like home, but you have to know where your home is. For the first time in my life, I don’t. I’ve left home several times before, but those times always felt different because I knew no matter what Lexington was my home. It was always where I felt the most like me.

This past visit was different. While there really is nothing like waking up in your childhood bed, and seeing my family and best friend was just what my heart and soul needed, I didn’t feel like I was able to slip back to being just a southern girl, because that’s no longer who I am. The roads I used to know by heart and the routes I could drive almost in my sleep were suddenly foreign. I had to think about how to get to places I’d been hundreds of times. I no longer took comfort in driving down small, tree-lined back roads. Even going to the mall seemed like a foreign experience. I feel as if I have outgrown my hometown, and I don’t know how I feel about that.

Just as I’ve been growing up, so has the rest of my family. I wouldn’t trade a millisecond of the time I was able to spend with them, especially with my parents who were generous enough to take time off work to be with me, but we all have our own lives now to worry about. We will always be family, but once you start creating your own family, your original one naturally becomes less of a priority. I’m obviously just as guilty, as evidenced by how often I go back to SC.

And this is my conundrum. Where is home for me? Brookdale is my parents’ home. I visit twice a year if I’m lucky. It’s my childhood home, but it’s no longer my home. At the same time, where is my home in Denver? Though I have definitely transitioned from a Carolina girl to a Colorado girl, I’ve lived in five places since moving here four years ago. Those were my houses, but none of them were my home.

I think that’s a main reason I’m ready to make the Big Move with The Mister. If home is where the heart is, I know where my home is. It’s with him, in our house. It’s why I enjoy spending time at his house right now – it’s the closest thing I have at the moment to my home. I don’t know if growing up ever gets easier, but it certainly hasn’t been boring.

One is Silver and the Other Gold…

Make new friends
but keep the old;
one is silver
and the other gold

Those of you who were Girl Scouts should recognize those lyrics. It’s one of the first songs you learn as a Daisy. Make new friends, but keep the old. It seems simple enough, but it rarely ever is. However, just because you lose touch with someone doesn’t mean that they are out of your life forever.

My visit back to South Carolina this week had two specific agenda items:

  1. Visit my family
  2. Visit my best friend

Everything else was just ancillary. I really only wanted to see the people that truly mattered to me, but an old friend I recently reconnected with mentioned that I should consider reaching out to someone who played a large role in my past, someone who knew and loved me through ALL the awkward, someone I hadn’t talked to in at least six years: my best friend from middle school, Laura. A new agenda item was added to my visit.

Looking back, Laura and I had a complicated friendship. We went to the same middle school but ended up at different high schools. We remained friends through the switching of schools, but our friendship didn’t even survive a year of college. That is when we drifted apart to the point where we lost communication.

Since I was home, I figured it was time to get in touch with her and at least attempt to close the six-year gap in our friendship. I didn’t have high expectations for our meeting; I certainly didn’t expect our friendship to pick up where it left off in the 11th grade, and to be honest I was just hoping she would return my phone call.

We had lunch today at noon.

Meeting again was pretty much what I expected it to be. It was both extremely awkward and extremely comfortable all at once. It was comfortable because Laura was My Person for so long; she was the one who knew me and and all my secrets during some of the most important years to have a best friend, and vice versa. It was awkward because it was painfully obvious that neither of us are still the same people we were all those years ago. It was still a good lunch. We caught up, talked about our current lives, touched briefly on the people we both knew, and reconnected.

Will Laura ever be one of my best friends again? No. Nor will I be hers. This doesn’t break my heart, this doesn’t make me sad, it doesn’t even make me nostalgic. Because that’s part of life – you grow up, you evolve, and you change, and sometimes your friends don’t change with you. I’m not sad that Laura isn’t part of my life, but I am grateful that she was willing to take the time today to briefly make me a part of hers.

They Wish They All Could Be California Girls…

Today, The Mister and I talked briefly about moving to California.

The odds of this actually happening are slim, but it is certainly something I wouldn’t be adverse to. California has always held a particular appeal to me, and not even a disastrous short-lived residency in Los Angeles was enough to cool that ardor. Plus, my CA driver’s license picture was gorgeous. Maybe I could recreate that magic.

Katie California

I mean, right? THAT is a driver's license photo.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Colorado, and I am quite happy in Colorado, but I could also see myself being quite happy in Southern California. Not L.A., but one of the beach towns.

There are so many pros to this:

  • I could keep my job and just transfer offices.
  • I could actually drive my car year round.
  • The beach.
  • The sun.
  • The Mister would be back home.
  • It’d be a new adventure.
  • My wardrobe is much more warm-weather friendly.
  • I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about not knowing how to board or ski.
  • I would be tan.
  • My hair would turn blonde.
  • And so many, many more.

Like I said, the chances of us moving to California (at least in the foreseeable future) are so small as to be negligible, but it is a change I would certainly be open to.

Who knows? Maybe one of these days I’ll be a California girl after all.