Tomorrow marks a year since I left Tennessee. I can’t believe it’s been a whole damn year already. It’s been so fast. Just a year ago I was getting no sleep, finishing packing up my things, and wondering how I would say goodbye to the man I still loved. The morning I left, he packed my car for me and turned his head as I tried for one last kiss. I pulled out of the driveway and watched him in my rear view mirror just like every country song I had come to love. It was over.
I went and picked up my best friend. She had a long goodbye with her new husband, and I held back tears as I gave him a hug goodbye. Everyone in that town had become close to me. I knew everyone, everyone knew who I was. It was a small town, I had grown to call it home. It’s still one of the few places I consider home.
We went on our way, first stop? Starbucks in Murfreesboro, TN. To begin our long drive across country, I decided to accidentally scare the living hell out of Kayla by almost getting into a car accident! I’m sure that made for a suspenseful ride the next 3 days! Sorry, Kayla.
The sad part is that, on the day that was supposed to kill me, I had the happiest day of my life! I was supposed to be heartbroken, but I wasn’t. I was excited for the road trip, and I was the happiest I had ever been when I visited Graceland. Seriously, I’m not even sure I’ll be that happy on my wedding day! Unless, of course, I get married at Graceland.
As one lifelong dream was coming to an end, I was experiencing another just beginning. I was about to travel across country with a best friend. I was walking where Elvis Presley once lived. I couldn’t help but be the most happy I had ever been. I was bouncing all around the place, giggling. I had Kayla taking pictures of me everywhere! I was so incredibly happy. It was a bittersweet end to my time in Tennessee.
Kayla is a small town girl. Grew up in the town she still lives in. Never been on a plane, never been bar hopping downtown. So, to try and get her used to the city I took her out on the town in Little Rock, Arkansas. Bless her heart, she was so uncomfortable. But she survived. It was the biggest city she’d been in other than Nashville. Which scared me a bit, because it was not a big city. Was she in for a surprise when we finally made it to Phoenix. The city that never freaking ends.
We made memories I’ll never forget on our trip. We sang songs I’d never in a million years think that sweet girl would ever listen to! (Ass, ass, ass, ass.)
She made sure, in every state, that I could turn around if I wanted to. I didn’t have to leave my Tennessee. But she also knew, I had to do this. It was the only way I could save myself. I had to go back home, there were things left unfinished. I wasn’t meant to be in the country.
God, I didn’t want this girl to leave me! She had become such a great friend in such a short amount of time. I’d gotten used to seeing her every damn day. She is the sweetest, most loving person in the world. She helped me through one of the most difficult times of my life. I love this girl!
What have I done in this past year? I don’t currently have a job, and I’m not in school. It’s easy to just glance at my life and say that all I’ve done this past year is spend money and drink copious amounts of coffee. However, I have lived my life.
I went out on the weekends. I was a wing woman for my best guy friend. I danced with strangers, I learned how to two step, and I learned how, for the most part, to manage my drinking in a healthy way. Although, at some point I forgot that little bit and decided it’d be best to just quit drinking all together. But I’ve had some 21year old experiences that I don’t regret!
I wore my red dress that I wasn’t allowed to wear in Tennessee. My ex was furious that I bought it. He decided it showed too much and I couldn’t wear it out. Well, I went to a fancy Christmas party and guess what. I wore my damn dress. I put on my highest heels, and did my makeup. I felt absolutely gorgeous and I loved every minute of it. Also, this photo was taken to send to him. Gotta remind ’em what they lost, right girls?
I spent time at coffee shops reading. I did what I enjoyed, without feeling guilty for it! For the first time in about a year, I was able to relax and do what I truly enjoyed. The simple act of reading at a coffee shop made my day. I can still remember how happy I felt in that moment.
I visited Bass Pro Shop a few times. Even though I’m happy to be in the city again, I do miss my country life. Being able to come here lets me feel like it’s not so far away. It gives me memories of the good times, and sometimes I buy a little keepsake to remind me of the country girl that lies inside my soul.
I attended cosmetology school. One of my passions, but not my life’s purpose. I ended up withdrawing, but I didn’t go down without a fight. I gave it my best, I enjoyed every moment I possibly could. But at the end of the day, it was time to let this dream fly away. And I’ve grown so much since I let go of this part of my life.
While I was in school I got to be a makeup artist for a professional photo shoot. I got to accomplish one of my dreams before I left. And while I loved being able to say that I did that, I knew it wasn’t where I was meant to be. I was meant for more.
I traveled. Alone. I went to Flagstaff, AZ for a weekend and enjoyed myself. I enjoyed breakfast alone and I enjoyed reading at a coffee shop. I had a great time just being myself and exploring, standing on my own two feet. It was nice to be back.
While at the time, I didn’t support him, I went to a Bernie Sanders rally. Expecting to stand in the back and have it be pretty much pointless that I was there, I had another thing coming. My friend and I met up with his friend and we walked past all the little gates. All of them, until we found ourselves standing with some of the most powerful voices in local Arizona politics. It was a great way for me to deal with my anxiety in large crowds, and a wonderful once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.
And then, I traveled some more. I traveled back to my true home, San Diego. I visited with my best friend since kindergarten and her husband. I drove out there alone, and had a wonderful weekend with them. I had planned on moving out there, however I feel my life is better off in Arizona at the moment.
I burnt my hand. I got 2nd degree burns from holding the wrong end of a curling iron. I had to have my friend go with me to the hospital to help ease my anxiety. I powered through it. And while I felt a little sorry for myself that I had no one to help me take care of it, I managed to take care of myself pretty well.
Also during the time of the burnt hand, I lived out of hotels! I had been kicked out of my parent’s house. See, I told you it didn’t go so well. And I had no where to turn to. So, I stayed in two separate hotels while waiting for my apartment and still continuing attending school. I felt kind of badass for having made it through this tough time, although I couldn’t have made it without Friends. The TV show. And, well, one certain friend that helped me get the hotel rooms and made sure I was okay. He even brought me coffee one day.
By the time it was May, I moved into my own apartment. For the first time in years, I had a place of my own. No one can kick me out (as long as I pay my bills) and no one can make me feel ashamed for the way in which I live. I’m on my own, with the help of my grandparents. But at the end of the day, I stand tall on my own two feet. Proud of the home I have made for myself.
And then, I got a fur baby. His name is Warren. I named him after the county in Tennessee that I lived in. As all my previous dogs have been named after places I’ve lived. Just a few short days after adopting him, we headed out on an adventure.
And, not even a year later I went back to Tennessee. I stayed with my Tennessee gay best friends, and their friend who was also crashing for the weekend. We went and got tattoos and we drank too much alcohol. They were there for fun and laughter during what was pretty much a divorce. Also, I almost got hit by a car driving through a wall while eating my breakfast. So, thank god that didn’t happen.
Most importantly, I grew closer with my family. My dad and I speak almost every day, my mother and I get along better, and my grandmother calls me each day to make sure I’m doing alright. I’m beyond blessed with the family I’ve been given, even if we aren’t perfect at all.
I started dating. Pretty much for the first time. I went to things like Oktoberfest and to fancy dinners. I met a lot of interesting guys, some not so interesting. While it was nice for the time being, online dating isn’t for me. Which is okay, because I got me a date with an old high school friend tomorrow and that’s much more exciting than some random I’ve never met before!
I became a contributor on The Mighty. My writing has reached over 1,000 hearts. I can’t even describe how it makes me feel to know that I’ve finally made an impact on this world. Small, it may be, but an impact nonetheless.
I’ve welcomed my new little niece into the world. I watched as my sister’s little belly grew into something huge. I visited the day she was born, and the next day I got to feed her. She’s another little miracle. I’m so glad that I was able to be apart of this.
And finally, I hung out with old friends. I reconnected with those that once meant everything to me. They still mean the world. I was able to be myself, feel like the girl I was in high school. I felt loved, I felt wanted. I was actually invited to hang out with people, something that doesn’t actually happen often.
I’ve grown so much, I’ve overcome so much. I’m so much more strong than I was this time last year, when I had to be the strongest I had ever been before.
I finally know who I am. I finally realize my life’s purpose and my goals. I’m happy with who I am, and I’m finally in control of myself. It’s such a great feeling to be at this place.
Thank you to all of those who have made sure that, without a doubt, I stayed alive.