I just turned 25. Enter stage left: Ms. Mid-20 something! By all accounts, this year is supposed to be one of the more fabulous ones in a woman’s life, so I decided to start it in style.
After living in Monterrey, Mexico for nearly four years, I quit my fantastic full-time, stability granting, career-woman job to go and chase after some of the world’s most impractical goals before later moving on to start a Master's degree. Get a Mohawk. Learn two more languages. Travel Europe for five months on a three-month tourist visa. And of course, (sorry Mom and Dad – I recognize I may not have been completely upfront about this next one) visit the nudest of nude beaches.
The list continues, but these are some of the more pertinent items on order. For information on the origin of this list, please see footnote A.
I should also point out that the vision for this plan came into being prior to the world’s decision to turn into a giant pit of quicksand and economic turmoil. It’s important to note because when the U.S. government decided to inject its first $700 billion into America’s financial system last October 2008, the dollar flexed it muscles around the globe, strengthening against other world currencies.
Within four months, my hard-earned savings from the past three years were devalued by nearly 30% against the dollar. I’d been gathering my travel fund in Mexican pesos. But now, just like the monopoly money poker bets placed on Wall Street, the exchange-rate value of my pesos took an unexpected hit.
Things just got…
…a little more interesting.
While preparing to leave Mexico, I sold nearly all of my belongings for enough money to purchase a one-way ticket to Stockholm, Sweden. I cut my hair (not a Mohawk yet, but still shockingly short – enough to stir up that “I ain’t nobody’s woman” feeling I would highly recommend to any girl in her mid-20’s. Piercings, tattoos, and drastic wardrobe changes can also do the trick, however I tend to suggest the less permanent options for us beginners).
The week of my 25th birthday was my last one at work. I packed my boxes, handed over the keys to my cubicle, said a few teary eyed goodbyes to the people who’d become my family in Mexico, and set off driving toward the Texas border. Cowgirl meets wild new frontiers.
I am in every way, "Caught in the Middle." Mid-twenty something girl quits job, enters radical transition phase between steady work and steady schooling. I am caught in the nasty wire transfer from pesos to dollars. In the middle of a rabbit-hole plan. Between countries, cultures, and languages, and I’ll bet that in some way you are too.
Welcome to my collection of stories for people who are mid-way there. For those who are in the middle of a big decision, people caught mid-discussion, for half birthday enthusiasts, middle children, and middle managers. I hope you’ll find pieces of yourself here, between things old and new, near and far – somewhere between birth and death, because ultimately we’re all somehow… Caught in the Middle. And what matters most is how we choose to work it when we're walking that middle line.
Footnote A: It’s 2am in July 2006. One of those perfectly warm Kennywood cotton candy midnights in Pittsburgh. No better time to take a dip in our backyard pool with my sister and our childhood friend, and frankly there’s no better time to do it in our skivvies. No one’s watching – I can almost hear our neighbor snoring through his second story screen window. I follow my sister’s lead, the path of strewn socks, t-shirt, and shorts leading up the back patio stairs toward the pool deck.
The three of us run around the edge of the pool, giggling, still a little performance shy. Splash! Sister takes the plunge. I follow. Friend follows. We all get out, skipping around the pool deck. Fairy-like. Laughing, cackling really. Splash! Here we go again… in and out, up and down. Little Gollums running in the night. Whoosh! Down the slide – cold, wet fiberglass against the back of my legs and on my hips.We play like fireflies, and we send our laughter up to the universe. And it is the truest laughter I have ever released, the kind that splits through all sadness and forces you to discover things. In this moment, my sister’s freest of free spirits inspires me. My friend’s courage fills me. It is one of the happiest memories I hold onto in my life. And if something so simple could bring me that much closer to myself, why not make a list of a few other simple goals to bring me closer still – a few more adventures to help grow these girl bones into woman ones with just a little more grace… and a little more style.