Catchin’ Flights & Chasin’ Frogs

Growing up as a lifelong New Englander, there are things I love about the Northeast way of life. Efficiency, hard work, strength, and of course, resilience. I cannot say I don’t attribute a multitude of things about who I am to the work ethic and overall nature of my Northern roots. However, I tend to have always identified as a bit of a Northern brain with a Southern soul. (Hence my need to drag my entire family to Clemson in April of 2016. I was adamant my college years would be spent in Death Valley cheering on DaShawn Watson and chasing BBQ with Natty Light, but that’s a story for another day.)

My desire to go out of state for school was not to diminish my love for Rhode Island or the people who had made that place home. My affinity for the Ocean State has always been and always will be infinite. It was because one of my most distinct traits for as long as I can remember is the craving of adventure. Wondering what else is out there and how I could go about finding it. If you were anything like my tween-age self and adored Author John Green, you may remember his infamous line from the all-time classic book, Looking for Alaska. It reads, “I go to seek a greater perhaps.” While that sounds far more pretentious and intellectual than I intend it to, I felt that I, like many people, could relate to that. The dictionary definition of the word perhaps reads “used to express uncertainty or possibility.” While uncertainty is often terrifying, it is usually then you find your truest self. My craving to stumble upon an accidental piece of knowledge, to indulge in a new and unknown possibility is one of my greatest quests; and in order to do so, I had to take a step out from what was comfortable, and a step into my next “perhaps”.

Baltimore turned out to be the adventure of a lifetime, and that is a story too vast to attempt to unpack in this blog alone, but it was the first time I got a taste of making a new place my own. Where no one knew the person I had been before and simply saw me for who I was then. There is something incredibly refreshing about a fresh start, even if for just a small period of time. I came to find each new place, person, and experience helped shape the woman writing this right now. (I originally wrote girl there, but I was feeling powerful so I changed it to woman-HA!)

Much of my self-exploration came during my time abroad. Ever since my four-month Mamma Mia stint in Greece, my desire for traveling has only intensified. With 2021 bringing forth the promise of normal life, it was time to hit the road again. With the price of flights costing less than an Urban Outfitters crop top, I quickly found myself shooting whiskey in the streets of Nashville. Soon thereafter said whiskey was consumed, I also found myself singing “I’ve Got Friends In Low Places” at a dive bar upon being kicked out of our first Air BnB. We lasted a record-long 10 hours there… but hey, can’t win ’em all. I was determined to make sure my next trip didn’t end up in a $500 fine and found sometimes even your greatest attempts at a “perhaps” may in fact, cause you to learn the hard lessons. And let me tell you something…. you need those too.

I suppose after Nashville I was feeling in the mood to conquer every bachelorette travel destination this year because I recently returned from a five-day trip to Charleston, SC. Charleston was a Southern town I had always been curious about, and with $75 dollar flights practically shouting at me to be purchased through my laptop, I decided, what the hell. The best thing about booking last-minute, impulsive trips is that the group of people you will convince to come with you. The idea of attending on such short notice will always prove to bring the BEST people to travel with. There are so many times where I will have conversations with friends and we’ll say “Yes we’ll plan this” or I’ll get sent a TikTok with a message saying “We have to go”, and while that’s great and all, IT. NEVER. HAPPENS. I have found people are much more responsive and willing to tag along on trips if you simply send them your flight information and say “Come”. Trust me, there is no pain worse to a twenty-something-year-old female than a bad case of FOMO. Being the person to pull the trigger first will get the rest of the team on board much quicker, and if it doesn’t, then who cares, solo trip it up.

I learned early on it is never much about the place you go to as much as it is about the people you’re with and the people you find. People, in my opinion, make every place. While the architecture, beaches, shopping, history and whatever else you went there to find may be fantastic, it has nothing on the connections you make when visiting a new place. What I came to find out approximately 10 minutes into my stay was that Uber drivers below the Mason Dixon will never let the seemingly uncomfortable silence of strangers packed into a Honda, happen. You can find their car radios to be either down or off, as they would rather in engaging with you than hear another repetitive Maroon 5 song. No hate to Adam Levine, but enough. Our first driver, Keisha, prepared us for how to deal with a good ole Charleston rainstorm, and how the effects of being in “low-country” meant flooding was not only common but expected. She amongst a variety of other drivers provided sound, and also entertaining advice that we all didn’t know we needed to hear.

Not to quote Ben Rector for about the zillionth time, but in his song “The Men That Drive Me Places”, he talks about how so much of his career and success is attributed to the men that drive him places and get him from Point A to Point B. There is an unspoken kind of love for these brief moments and interactions where for a couple of miles you get to share mutual wisdom, laughs, etc. I took a particular liking to my final uber Stephen, who momentarily convinced me I should elope in Joshua Tree, California, and teach high school math later in life. I admired his wit, his admiration for his wife, the Ohio State Buckeyes, and the intricacies of Geometry proofs as well. I mean seriously, who in their right mind can speak fondly of geometry? I got a freaking C in Geometry, it may as well have been written in Pig Latin. Nonetheless, Stephen totally rocked.

Aside from Uber Drivers, there were a few elderly people I took quite a liking to as well. My favorite duo, however, was Linda and Bill. Married 51 years, both in their seventies, the Virginia natives and I spent upwards of thirty minutes on a bench by the bay. They were in town celebrating their youngest sons’ 37th birthday. They asked me intriguing questions the average person doesn’t ever seem to. Nothing about what I was doing for work, or what my degree was in. They asked me about my interests, my love of dance, my go-to coffee order, and all the other random things that you never get to casually discuss with someone you just met. There was a warmness to the people of the Carolinas that I couldn’t get enough of, and suddenly the hour wait for dinner went from feeling like a pain to an absolute pleasure. When we parted ways as our tables were ready, we dramatically hugged and wished each other well. My phone was dead, my heart was happy and my hunger was forgotten as I had just gained two new friends.

On the other hand, there were some rather cool youngins we met along the way. My personal favorite? Auggie. Okay well, I am not sure his actual name, but he seemed like he’d be named Auggie, so that’s what we called him. We found him in the middle of the woods, attempting to catch a frog. He was outfitted in long cargo shorts, rubber water-proofed sneakers, a green t-shirt, a blue bandanna draping his neck, and a grey fedora atop his head. He was a modern-day 4th-grade version of Indiana Jones. I am also sort of convinced that if Junie B. Jones was real, she’d take a real liking to him. He was an inquisitive kid, with the sort of determination you only see in highly passionate people. If there was one thing he knew, it was he was going to catch this frog. My attempt to poke the pond with a stick was little to no help, but playing and exploring with someone who simply was in awe of his surroundings helped me be present in the moment as well. The entire time I was secretly hoping we’d catch the frog and name him Beans in honor of Fed-Ex (aka Mark) in Cheaper by the Dozen, but even my 8 years of girl scouts did not exactly make me the best woman for the job. Nonetheless, I admired his determination and sheer fascination with the four-legged pond creature.

I tell you these anecdotes not to explain my love for old people, or to discuss my inability to catch Amphibians. But rather to explain the refreshing nature of going someplace you have never been. The great reminder that all your day-to-day worries, problems, and stresses, in the grand scheme of things may not be that big of a deal. Sometimes a little perspective and the reminder that we’re all just humans in this finite period of life together turns out to be great for the soul. Me, Auggie, Linda, Bill, Keisha, Stephen, and all the others we met along the way; breathing the same old Southern air. Sometimes an hour away from impending phone notifications is often times the refresher you need. You never plan a vacation with the expectation of befriending someone who hasn’t learned fractions yet, of course not. But sometimes you do it for the chance to allow a random interaction, a mere unexpected opportunity to cross your path and change your thoughts, even if for the smallest bit of time. You’ll find yourself admiring a local small-town pharmacy that still sells Coca-Cola by the glass and PB&J’s for under $2.00. And it is this simple change of pace that helps to keep you evolving in ways you may not know you needed to.

Of course, I hope to one day trek through the Himalayas and ride free on a Vespa down the Amalfi coast, but for now, I have come to find adventure in the ordinary. While people seem more concerned about my interaction with Kristin Cavallari (don’t get me wrong, she rocked), than anything else, I acknowledge it was these people who touched my heart during my small trip that I am more grateful for. I conclude this rather long and slightly all over the place blog by saying, you’re not going to catch a flight and immediately “find yourself”. But slowly, you’ll start to realize, little by little, with every little “perhaps” you may seek that you’re on your way to becoming someone pretty damn special.   

All my love,

Abby

Somethin’ I Don’t Know

June 16, 2021

Elementary school icon, TV personnel, and overall science legend, Bill Nye (The Science Guy) once said “Every single person you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” While his multitude of experiments and explanations of how atoms work never stuck with me, (Science is NOT my thing, Bio/Chem/Physics Majors you impress me to no end) this quote did. As a kid, you subconsciously think adults know more than you, and you know more than the younger kids and that’s that. But I have found that is not always the case. Sure adults may know how to file their own taxes, or how to powerwash the house, or even go to the dentist without crying. But they don’t always know how to question, create, imagine, and see the world through an unjaded lens as easily as children do.

I learned this lesson my first time babysitting. I was about 4’11 and 13 years old. So the three kids I watched didn’t exactly fear me by any sense of the imagination. Therefore, 8pm bedtime turned more into “once-mom-texts-me-shes-heading-home” bedtime. Regardless, during our extra late bedtimes over the years, I had come to learn many things from the little ones. They knew things that I didn’t. How to play roller hockey, how to play real-life Fruit Ninja (yes, it’s as dangerous as it seems), and even taught me how to be a master negotiator, a skill they seemed to have mastered by the ripe age of seven. It was then I realized that everyone I met DID know things that I was rather clueless about, regardless of age, background, interests, or anything else that may have separated us.

Learning and understanding this at a fairly young age is attributed at large to my willingness to talk to strangers. Yes, the opposite of what every parent to ever exist tells their kids, but I’m still here to tell my tales, so I think talking to strangers is okay. If you think about it, everyone you have ever come in contact with was once a stranger to you at some point,┬áso there’s nothing wrong with a casual “Hello-turned-explaining-entirety-of-love-life” to your bus driver. Not that I did that. Okay fine, I did that. But hey, Carl provided sound advice to me which I am forever grateful for. However, if you’re one of those people that does not feel compelled to pour your soul out to an Uber driver, then let’s switch the topic over to things you learn from some of the people closest to you, your friends.

I believe all strong friendships come by establishing relationships with a multitude of characters, each bringing their own dash of individuality to the table for the betterment of others. Below is a list I have compiled of the variety of different types of friends I have been blessed enough to learn something from in my life. In my humble opinion, everyone could use these types of friends.

First and foremost is the “knows-a-guy” friend. While growing up in Rhode Island made this a more common occurrence, these people are the ones who know the in and outs of just about everything. Wait times don’t exist for them and any time you bring forth a sense of panic, they simply cure all anxious thoughts with a simple, and fatherly-like “let me handle this” mentality. Need a cheap used car? They know a guy. Need a last-second prom date, they have two for you. They handle life’s inconveniences so you don’t have to, and don’t ask for repayment besides a meaningful hug and thank you text followed by an array of loving emojis.

Next is the handy-friend. This is the person that will kill the bugs, stomp the spiders and get their hands dirty. They’ll try to show you more than once how to fix your own showerhead, and even with your greatest intention of learning yourself, they’re always there for back-up because well, let’s face it, if you’re anything like me you suck at all things that involve a hammer, wrench or insects, this person is a lifesaver. Between their Cubscout┬álike knowledge and ability to actually understand an instruction manual, they prove to be helpful in more than one instance.

Then we move into the Type-A friend. As much as you may hate to admit it, everyone could benefit from a detail-oriented pal. Planning a trip? They have the reservations made two weeks early and have booked you the type of Airbnb that is perfect walking distance away from anywhere you’d want to go. I always tend to feel more compelled to get my shit together and do things more purposefully when around these types of friends.

In contrast, you also need the Jump-In-Puddles sort of friend. The person you take out and they end up in the corner of a bar talking to an older couple from the Midwest simply because they love spontaneous meet-ups and learning from all types of people. They never check the weather forecast because well, frankly, nothing is going to rain on their parade. They’re the type to convince you to go to get mimosas as you’re deathly hungover and still have last night’s mascara decorating your swollen face. To them, it ain’t nothin’ they can’t handle, and every day is a good one, whether it means a trip to Target or a trip to the Maldives, they’ll seize it all the same.

Then there’s the underrated, “It’s Not That Bad Friend”. This person shows empathy like no other and reminds me, that sometimes you just want to be reassured that whatever you did, whatever you snapchatted someone you were supposed to be ignoring or whatever pimple you have protruding off your face worse than Lewbert’s mole on ICarly, that “it’s not that bad”. While I know this is a band-aid solution and often times you need people to cross-check you with a sense of reality, I’d be lying if I said these people didn’t hold a special place in my heart. Besides the Uber Eats driver with my Sausage, Egg, and Cheese, they’re the first person I want to see on a Sunday morning to cure any scaries and simply remind me, it’s really, truthfully…not that deep.

Lastly is the New York Times friend. The friend who knows about current events, fashion trends in Europe, and can pretty much cover any topic from Crypto to the Kardashians with you. They keep you in the loop and are your very own news source. They are great to bring around all parents as they know how to find common ground with just about any person with any interest. These are the people who love to learn and inspire others to do the same.

Now I didn’t get to touch upon the friends who are skincare gurus, ultimate foodies, the ones that get your butt to the gym or tell you to pack a jacket because you’ll probably get cold, and all the other types of awesome people you meet in your lifetime. People who are better (and worse) at a lot of things than you are. However, I think it’s important to realize other people’s strengths, the insights they bring forth either from personal experience, interests, and everything else in between. Friends, family, strangers, and yes, even the four-year-olds down the street can teach you things if you’re willing to embrace them with open arms.

So the next time you’re with a cousin, a close friend, or a middle aged-gentlemen at your local Starbucks; attempt to be present, turns out you may just learn somethin’ you don’t know.

With love on this warm Summer Wednesday,

Abby

Firsts and Lasts

June 1, 2021

When I rolled over this morning and saw that my phone read June 1st, I thought, HOW. It’s already June? You know how when you were a kid and days in the summer always seemed to have fewer hours, and weeks fewer days, simply because you wanted them to last longer? How school would end and suddenly it was the Fourth of July and then time to pick out a new backpack? Having those feelings as a one-week-old college alum, it feels the same…until you remember that for the first time since roughly the age of three, you won’t have to pick out a new backpack. You won’t have to make a last-minute Staples run to buy that one blue folder that will function as a home for all five of your classes and the speeding ticket you got last week too. Now, summer will come, and school will not. Weird right?

You see, lasts are usually as terrifying as they are because they imply a first is coming. Firsts means, something is sweeping in and throwing off your life as you know it. Now there are great firsts, like the time I tried my first Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich (out of body experience, truly) or getting your first car, even though it may be older than you it has more character than half your high school class so it’s pretty special. But then there are the scary firsts. The first time you take the SATS or have to travel alone without your family. Things that seem tough, but are actually not so bad. Then, there’s the ultimate first. Your first day in the real world.

I spent my first day in the real world, May 23, 2021, hungover, eating pulled pork and forcing champagne out of a squirt gun down my throat. Some may call that avoidance, I called it coping. Did I want to leave a community of people who had understood my hit or miss humor, inability to drive without waving a friendly hello to a curb, and unspoken personality trait to never turn down a cheeseburger? Of course not. Did I want to leave the place that nourished my hunger with $6 boxes of fried chicken and let me show off my thirteen years of ballet training in a nightclub filled with desperation masked by denim skirts? Of course not. But as they say, all good things must come to an end.

While college is a great place to further study things that interest you, let boys sleep over without your mom knowing and become a master of curing hangovers, there are so many great things to learn that you’d never expect. I’ve compiled a list of things I’ve learned in my four years that I plan to take with me to the real world to further kick ass and takes names, they include:

  1. You don’t actually have to separate your whites and darks as long as the water is on cold. You probably should, but you really, really do not have to.

2. A white comforter is never a good idea. I don’t care how neat you are, how much it matches your aesthetic, or if Mr. Pottery Barn himself hand-designed it for you. It will get ruined, you will get upset.

3. Working while in school actually benefits your productivity. Now I understand this may not be the case for everyone, but with the amount of free time you’re exposed to in college, it’s easy to procrastinate. Working will not only give your more flexibility to have a drinking fund, but can also help manage your time more effectively.

4. Never EVER date a boy who is rude to Uber drivers. Now, this is not to shade anyone I’ve ever dated (all of them were fabulous to anyone in the service industry, shoutout you guys), but in general, it’s a good rule of thumb. How he treats people that come into his life temporarily, is a great indicator of how he will treat people in his life permanently.

5. You’re supposed to mess up. A lot. This is one I had wished I realized earlier on, as easy as it is to be hard on yourself, just know the point of college is to grow, whether that be as a student, a friend, girlfriend, or general human. As long as you own your shit when you should, time will heal most things. (Unless your a total asshole who deserves their comeuppance.. but I’m talking hangxiety, “probably shouldn’t have said that” things and such.)

6. Be a go-getter. The chance to go to college is a privilege most people would love to have. Don’t waste it by being unmotivated. Ask questions, reach out to mentors, and show up when you’re expected to work, ready to learn something you didn’t already know. I’m not saying be a hardo with no life, but try and better yourself, however that may look like to you.

7. Learn to embrace filth. If you are going to come into college expecting to keep your white Vans clean and your hair nicely curled, please exit the premises immediately. College is supposed to be filled with rusty bathroom sinks and sweat, lots of sweat.

8. Be a YES-MAN/WOMAN. There will be a lot of times when you won’t feel like it, whatever “it”  is but I can wholeheartedly promise you you will never regret spending time with people you love. Netflix will always be there, your friends won’t always live down the street.

9. One is silver, and the other is gold. If you’re like me you remember all of those campfire songs from Girl Scouts that used to ring through the halls of elementary schools everywhere. If you remember the song about friends you’ll know that the lyrics will hold true through the rest of your adult life. “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold.” Never be too busy, too cool or too caught up in your own new life to forget about your home friends, childhood friends, family friends, and all the people who knew you before you knew yourself. As my favorite man, Ben Rector says, “You can’t make old friends”. You know who the important ones are, maintain an effort.

10. Lastly, you can only plan so much. Anyone who has ever lived with me knows I’m not the most type-A person out there, but I am indeed a Virgo, and I tend to enjoy a bit of a plan. I learned the hard way that most things will not go as planned, and that is the beauty of things working out the way they should. As the past year showed us all, you make your plans, and God laughs. Embrace chaos and things that don’t seem to go as you’d hope. Redirection is a huge blessing.

As I conclude my wannabe older sister bit, I leave you with my first “That’s What She Said” blog. I created this because as I was reaching a new ending, and I was in dire need of a new first that brought me joy. My first passion project, and first attempt at trying to take what’s in my chaotic brain, and turn it into a digital diary of sorts. One I plan to share with the world because I’m an open book and a chronic over-sharer, so it just makes sense. As I embark on my new beginning, I may not have school to go to anymore, but I can undoubtedly say I will be doing my best to learn and grow every day until I’m old and wrinkly. Even then I’ll still probably be bothering every salesperson at Costco for some entertainment. Although most of us probably peaked in college, our twenties still await with more excitement and adventure than we could ever dream up right now in our childhood bedrooms.

So if you’re like me, sitting in your childhood bedroom wondering what’s next? Or if you’re struggling with any sort of ending, remember you and you alone get to decide what your new beginning looks like, and I couldn’t be more excited for you.

Cheers to your firsts and lasts and all the walkin’ in between. 

Abby