Long time no see! And now, I will silently apologize to every single blogger I've ever been upset with for not keeping up with posting a new blog every single week - it is HARD.
I have probably seven blog posts that I've started or nearly finished that I will get around to posting at some point, but for now I figured I will just write a life update.
A lot has happened since I last wrote; I left Utah, spent a month at home, moved to Idaho, decided I was going back to school, worked in Idaho for two months, my dog died, there was a mass shooting in my hometown, I visited home for a week, finished up three weeks in Idaho, moved back to West Virginia, visited Grace in Maine, went to Connecticut to a music festival with Jules, and now here I am in my apartment bed resetting while on fall break.
To start, we ended our stay in a Utah a couple weeks short, it could've been the turmoil with fellow employees or that we wanted to see our families, but I'll leave that up for your own imaginations. The month at home was refreshing and much needed. I spent time with family and friends, and my dog, which at the time I didn't know it would be my last month with her.
On May 14th I packed up everything into the classic big red lacrosse bag and moved again. God forbid I stay in the same place for more than three months! This time it was off to Idaho. Well, Salt Lake for a night and then Idaho; we couldn't head to Idaho without four full growlers from Squatters, come on now.
Stanley was a special place. It was nestled in the Sawtooth Valley with a population of 101, and a 360 degree view of the Sawtooth Mountains. It was a town filled with river guides, ski bums in their off season, and of course, mormons, because that is exactly what Jules and I are drawn to. We spent three months at Redfish, with our days consisting of long hikes, lake days, trips to Salt Lake, and concerts in Boise. It felt similar to Yellowstone, a place that brought special people together with nature at our fingertips and a plethora of freedom.
Redfish was no where near the dark days that were Utah, but there are a few hard days that stick out from this summer. I was working on May 29th when I got a text from my dad that read "It's Bert, she's very sick. I hate to say it through text, but wanted you to know". I was planning to go home in two weekends anyways for Ellie's graduation and silly me thought I could see her to say my goodbyes then, but little did I know that she actually had to be put down the next morning. I never really understood losing a pet, I would see people's Instagram posts about their animals passing and think that was sad and then shrug it off, but when it's your pet, it really hits. It makes loss very real. I hadn't really lost anyone besides my grandpa in 5th grade and then my great grandma freshman year, but when anyone dies, it makes you realize that nothing really is forever, no matter how much you think it is. I'm grateful for my years with Bert, she was so special. We gave her a loving home for the last years of her life and knowing that, and that she is resting easy made it a little easier.
Another day that sticks out was July 4th. I have a blog written more in detail that I'll finish up soon and post about that day, but you never think it will be your town and favorite local breakfast joint on television while the headline reads "7 dead, dozens injured at mass shooting during Independence Day parade in Highland Park, IL". And being in Idaho, where when people find out this happened they respond "that's why I hate Chicago" or "you must be proud", is not the place you want to be when it feels like your entire reality has been shaken. I sat in my dorm with refreshing the news with tears streaming down my face for days. You never think it could be your town until it is.
Inevitably, I spent many nights debating whether August 14th should be my end date, or if I should just skip out on school again and stay the entirety of the season. I decided that if I didn't return back to school this semester, it would be me waving the white flag and that I would likely never end up returning. So, like clockwork, three months after I arrived in Idaho, I was moving again. With the red lacrosse bag in hand, I took a redeye to Pittsburgh and arrived in Morgantown the day my classes began.
I'll admit it's a little weird being here. I've had my fair share of meltdowns and nights where I stayed up staring at the ceiling contemplating all my life decisions, but I've tried to make myself a home here.
It's funny, when I look back on my experience in Southern Utah now, I have rose-colored glasses. I think about all I had the opportunity to do, and feel confused how I could ever complain about it. But, our brains have the tendency to block out the bad parts, the parts that made me want to come back to school in the first place.
Part of me has debated transferring to University of Utah, I felt stupid for coming all the way out here when a lot of the people I love are all back out west, and the surroundings I love are out there also. After many tears, I realized I wanted to come here to prove something to myself. I had always gone on these ventures of mine with someone else, whether it was Liv or Jules or whoever, but coming back to WVU was doing something by myself. I felt like I had to prove I wasn't a follower, that I could be on my own without my best friend attached at my hip.
Turns out being alone and doing things by yourself is hard. Who would've thought! I neglected the idea of going to Utah because one time someone told me "I think you only do what Jules does", this was said to me in passing some five months ago now, but I think about it almost everyday. I always felt so sure of myself in my decision to take a gap year, going to Yellowstone, Zion, and Idaho, and for someone to say that I only did it because Jules did it really hurt me. I was venting to my parents about this and my dad told me a story about how a man he knew a named Pat convinced him to teach English, and that my mom's friend Nancy is the reason she decided to teach. He said "its unnatural not to have influences. Doesn't make you a follower. Makes you a learner".
A few days after this conversation with my dad, I was reading my sociology textbook and it said, "the changing images of self we acquire throughout our lives depend on the social relationships we develop". I now have a post-it on the back of my door that reads "we are all puzzles built with pieces of everyone we've ever met", the first thing I look at after I wake up and the last thing I look at before I go to bed. A reminder that being influenced is not a weakness, it is a sign that we have good people in our lives that inspire us to pursue our passions and find out who we really are.
Now, you know as well as I do if I actually would end up leaving or transferring, but I feel like I have a better perspective on it now. I don't have anything to prove, and if I do end up making that decision it would be because that's what I think would be best for me, which is still up in the air and likely will be decided after a few more listens to the "Leigha's sad day" playlist, pages filled in my journal, and calls home to my parents.
On my normal timeline, my three months would be up in November and I should be moving somewhere new, but my only plans for November as of now are going home for Thanksgiving break. I'm working to make a home here; socializing more, going to classes, joining clubs, so we'll see how this season works out for me.
Photo by Jules (@yellowsummr / yellowsummr.com)