Year 2| A Week in Greece #10: I TURNED 29!

I had a pretty amazing week, mostly because I gave myself a lot of downtime to socially recover.  I mean, I think I did, but when I look back on my calendar, I realize that I had a GEM work dinner on Monday, Greek lessons and K-Drama Club on Tuesday, and went to Cap Cap with Ellen, Olga, and Luciana on Wednesday.  Honestly, I think the biggest rejuvenator was Thursday, which was one of the BEST days I’ve had at HD yet.  All of our participants were present, plus two interpreters, and I used my (failed) argument with my landlord over an electricity bill to be the example for my anger management class.  We acted out the scenario according to various ways NOT to handle conflict, and we were cracking up with laughter throughout most of the lesson.  It was such a great way to see our individual anger issues with grace and humor while also seeing how counterproductive they are (“How did you feel when she interrupted you?” “Like I wasn’t ever going to help her with her bill, and maybe I was going to kick her out of her apartment too.”  “So interrupting…?” “Does NOT work.”)

But the real highlight of the week was my birthday on Saturday!

Ellen and I were going to start the day by getting manicures, but since we hadn’t thought to make an appointment, we wound up getting tea instead, discussing effective activism and the benefits and costs of labeling mental disorders.  Real light birthday fare!  My serious side was satisfied, which meant it was time to go to the movie theater to see Beauty and the Beast.

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Short story:  it was SO GOOD.  This movie created all of the feelings that Disney inspires at its best.  It made me believe that with courage and sacrifice, a world of magical adventures is possible, and that with love, the ugly and the ordinary can be transformed.

Long story:  it was SO GOOD.  I giggled througout scenes, I gasped in delight at the slight changes (“G-A-S-T…I think there’s another T…I’m just realizing I’m illiterate and have never spelled it out loud before…”), and I watched with tears in my eyes as the story I know so well was played out in front of my eyes exactly as I remembered it…only bigger and bolder and NEW.  Disney was cashing in on nostalgia, and I don’t care.  They can take all my money.

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After the lights came up, I clapped out “It. Was. So. Good.” multiple times at my friends, and yay!  I now have friends in Greece who are familiar enough with my obsessiveness that they allowed me to spend most of our mall wanderings elucidating my theory that Gaston is a perfect character for young girls to see…because he is the embodiment of toxic masculinity that initially looks charming and buffoonish but, when its pride is struck, quickly turns violently aggressive.  More light birthday fare!

We headed downtown for dinner on a rooftop garden.  Several more people joined us, and we got meat platters and salads and wine to pass around, all while sitting beneath the lighted Acropolis.  After we ate too much food, the introverts scattered, leaving me and the extroverts to head through Monastiraki to Da Vinci, my favorite ice cream shop in Athens. We ate and talked until late, at which point I headed home to enjoy the USian well-wishes on Facebook.

This was everything I love in a birthday – I forced friends from different parts of my life to hang out together, I had profound and silly conversations, I ate a lot of good things, and I felt…at home.  These friends are real friends.  I feel comfortable with them, and that oft-repeated refrain this time last year (“No one really knows me – I have to hide the silliest parts of myself!”) is now officially retired.

That said:  BEAUTY AND THE BEAST WAS SO GOOD.  Go watch it!

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I’m 28 Today!

I was talking to Dina the other day about marriage and singleness.  She said that in Greece girls are encouraged to get married when they graduate from school – from HIGH SCHOOL, and that there is this underlying belief that a girl’s purpose is to get married and have babies.  I said the same thing existed in the States, although the pressure happened when graduating from college.  And then I said, “I wanted that really badly when I was in college.  But if I’d gotten married, I would probably be living in a suburban house in Illinois or Tennessee with a husband and kids.  I wouldn’t be here now.  I doubt I’d have a Master’s in Counseling….I’m so glad I didn’t get what I thought I wanted!”

All of which is to say:  my 27th year was a CRAZY one, and a great one!

While 27, I:

  • graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary with a Master’s in Counseling
  • lived with my grandparents and parents for three months each
  • raised $27,000 in fundraising to move to Greece
  • went on a month-long roadtrip to 17 states
  • worked as a nanny, secretary, and librarian
  • saw Hamilton the Musical
  • moved to Greece
  • learned basic Greek
  • visited New Orleans, Disney World, Seattle, New York City, and Berlin

Putting everything in list form, I don’t know how being 28 could possibly top last year.  BUT, well.  I’m in Greece!  A stone’s throw away from weekend trips all over Europe.  And House Damaris is about to begin, and I’ll get to work as a counselor/teacher/secretary/fundraiser!  And I get to figure out if and how I will stay here after my visa expires…

Life is wonderful!  I mean, it’s also scary and overwhelming, but that’s a pretty good indicator that I have chosen a life of adventure.  I can’t wait to see what good and beautiful and heartbreaking and exciting things happen now that I’m 28!

Happy Birthday to Me

Today I turn 27!

This is one of those ages that seems absolutely perfect.  I like being an odd number, because 27 feels more significant and mature than 26 or even 28.  And being 27 puts me in the exact middle of my late-20s, and which is the time of life where everything (supposedly) starts falling into place.

Has everything in my life fallen into place?  Yes and no.

I started my 26th year with no clue where I would wind up after graduating from DTS.  I start my 27th year knowing I’ll be in Greece.  For how long?  I don’t know that part, but the uncertainty no longer feels so scary.  Before, it felt like there were twenty paths laid out before me, but I didn’t know which one to take.  Now, I’m walking on a path, and although it grows dark a few steps away from where I am, I have the safety of knowing I’m going somewhere.

So much of my 27th year is a mystery.  But an exciting one!  I can’t wait to settle into a new home, make new friends, and create new memories.  I’m excited to stretch myself, to learn new skills and grow deeper in my faith in God.  I’ve grown into a person who accepts challenges and says yes to adventures.  I’m so glad to be alive, and I’m so grateful that God continues to keep my life interesting.  I love who I am, and today, on my 27th birthday, I’m ready to love who I will become.

The Story of a Friendship: Tricia and Her Mom

Today is my mom’s 57th birthday!  She was born thirty years, twelve hours, and one minute before me, and I am so grateful that of all the moms in the world, she is mine.

Families are weird.  DNA and experiences tie you together in a messy ball of weaknesses and strengths.  Although I have inherited my mom’s insecurity and self-doubt, I have also inherited her gentleness and kindness.  I admit that at times I have resented my mother for being human, but I am learning to be grateful for the ways she has shown grace and courage in being my parent.  Continue reading