California Kids

For Memorial Day this past weekend, I had the privilege of returning to Southern California to see my friends and family. I’ve had a lot, and I mean A LOT, of thoughts about this trip, and so I think this post will be just a conglomerate of some of those thoughts. We’ll see if it makes sense, and I’m sorry in advance if it doesn’t.

First of all, when I wrote the first sentence of this post, I wrote “returning home,” but I changed it. The real and honest and kind of painful truth is that home isn’t California anymore. Technically, it hasn’t been since 2015, and for a few years I felt like I was homeless. Not in the sense that I didn’t have a house to live in, but homeless emotionally. I resisted calling Colorado “home” for a long time, partly out of stubbornness and not wanting to leave California. I tried calling Oregon “home” for a year, but it wasn’t out of authenticity; again, it was out of a stubborn desire to make my choice to move there seem “right.” (Whether choices are right or wrong is another post entirely, so I’ll have to satisfy myself with just putting that one in quotes.) I moved back to Colorado with, as I’ve said before, my tail between my legs and my pride knocked down several notches, and I’ve had to learn how to allow myself to embrace this state as home.

I’ve insisted for awhile that I’m going back to California eventually, that that place will always be home, and Colorado is temporary and it’s not where I’m really supposed to be and it’s just an interim phase of life. Of course, none of us know what our futures really hold, and we can plan all we want, but life rarely turns out exactly how we envision it to be. But out of stubbornness and a bit of rebellion and thinking I know what’s best, I’ve tried really hard to reject Colorado, but I think God has been trying real hard to communicate lately that this place is one where I can abide, whether or not it’s the landing place. It’s not just a place where I wait in the meantime, but it’s one where I can live and grow and thrive. We are put into seasons of “waiting,” sure, but we need to learn how to think of these seasons also as times of growth and learning too.

But second of all, this past weekend was jammed full of quality time with my friends (and quality time is my love language, if anyone was wondering). For somebody who needs recovery time after being with people, I’ll be honest, it was a bit difficult, but goodness gracious was it good for me. I have only a few friends here in Colorado, and so going back to a place where most of my friends still are is surreal. This weekend was filled with a ton of laughs, meaningful conversations and moments, and all the things that build relationships. California isn’t “home” for me anymore (the number of times I got lost in the city I grew up in was EMBARRASSING), but these people are. It’s always difficult for me to determine who to spend my time with when I go back to California, because I’m only there for a short period of time and I feel like I have to make the most of that time and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by not hanging out with them (as if my presence is valuable?). I’m grateful, though, that the people I got to see this weekend are the people who build me up, who invest in me and my heart, who wish the best for me. (This doesn’t mean that the people I didn’t see don’t do those things.)

I have a lot of thoughts about friendships and devoting time and energy to the relationships we deem most important in our lives. I think the hardest part about spending time with people who live in a different state from me is recognizing that, even with text messaging and video chats and the beauty of telecommunications, it’s really hard to invest in people who aren’t physically with you. It’s hard to foster and cultivate relationships when they aren’t literally in front of your face. It’s hard to remember everything that has happened to you in the past year, and even harder to articulate those things in the few hours you have with someone. Is it worth it? With these people, absolutely. But it’s still difficult and draining and an emotional roller-coaster at times. And it’s a little sobering and saddening to recognize the people who, for whatever reason, simply aren’t interested in investing in you or maintaining the relationship you share when distance comes into the equation. The realization and recognition of the people who are in it for the long haul more than makes up for that, of course.

Third of all, if you didn’t know this already, since December 2018, I’ve lost about 70 pounds. A few of the people I got to see commented on that weight loss. Compliments are nice, sure, but what I appreciated was that most of those comments weren’t about how pretty I am now. They were comments like, “You look so much healthier and happier and more confident,” all of which are true, and they are comments on the deeper psyche surrounding losing weight and not about superficial beauty. (The few comments I got about how pretty I look now were irritating too, so, consider this a PSA to not say that to someone who has lost weight.)

There’s another side to this coin, though, and that is the comment that I’m somehow more of myself now that there’s less weight. Somehow, my identity is more concentrated, more apparent. I look different, sure, and maybe for some people the change is disorienting, but these kinds of comments imply that I’m a completely different person now, that losing the weight makes me as a person better, beyond the fact that I’m actually healthier because I make smarter choices with what I put in my body and I exercise and I focus on sleep and other aspects of health. Because I’ve lost weight, only now am I the real me? Since now I’m at the weight I was when I was, like, 12, am I finally the authentic Meredith again? (By the way, 12-year-old me was a TERROR, so no, the authentic Meredith is definitely not the 12-year-old me.) Of course, I recognize that most poeple are not thinking these things explicitly, so I have grace for people who make these comments, but the message our society tells us is that we are not valuable unless we look a certain way. Media and advertising tell women in particular that without perfect hair and makeup and a slim body (but with curves, because that makes total sense!!!), we’re less than. These kinds of comments and attitudes perpetuate that message. Long story short, if you’re going to comment on someone’s weight loss, please be conscientious of what you say and how you say it. The number on a person’s scale isn’t their defining personality factor.

TL;DR: California was amazing and I already miss the people I was with, and I’m growing up in recognizing that California isn’t home for right now and Colorado is a beautiful place in which to grow and listen to what God wants to say to me, and it’s also really important to be conscientious of the things we say to one another, particularly in relation to physical appearance.

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