A recap of where I’ve been and where I’m going.

I usually try to keep my blog light and friendly, with a little art and inspiration thrown in. I don’t like to use it as a soapbox to complain (who wants to read that?), and I try not to get too personal. But with 2010—one big, lifechanging year—coming to a close and so many new projects on the horizon, I can’t help but find myself thinking about where I’ve been and where I’m going. And I know I’m not the only one who’s doing this. So although this post was suited better for December, I thought that I’d share some of my own stories on where I’ve been and where I’m going to help get your wheels turning. Hopefully you’ll share your own thoughts in the comments section or on your own blogs (as long as you send me a link, please!)

So without further ado, my life lessons, told via cities in which I’ve lived:

Winston-Salem, N.C.: Where I first learned how to think, how to speak French and Arabic, how much I love post-colonial literature, and the power of friendship.  It gave me the confidence to sing opera and art song and a chance to perform both. It [literally] introduced me to Maya Angelou, Colin Powell, Donald Johanson,  and Isabel Bayrakdarian. It taught me some roommates will be friends for life and some friends make terrible roommates. I learned that religion is not for me, and that’s okay.

Edinburgh, Scotland: This is where I put into place Mark Twain’s famous quote: “I never let schooling get in the way of my education.” True, I skipped a lot of classes. But this was the first time I was out on my own, in a place completely new and full of discovery. I spent a semester with British comedians I called flatmates and said ridiculous things like, “but everyone has a dryer!” Oh dear. I stumbled a lot in the beginning, but by my last couple of weeks, British folks would stop me and ask for directions. I loved seeing their faces after my American accent helped them find where they were going.

Lille, France: I thought living in France would be like living in Scotland. Whoops. This is where I learned that foreign countries don’t like America, but they love Americans. Teenagers are teenagers no matter what nation, and they all want to know more about Brad, Angelina, and Beyonce.  My appearance in Lille’s neighboring villages prompted kebab shop workers to say “Vous êtes les premieres americaines que j’ai jamais rencontré [you are the first Americans I’ve ever met]!” It surprised me to see how big of an impact the United States made on France, and how little of France ever made its way back to America. I also saw my first real display of anti-Semitism on public transportation and watched French teachers become fools over how “America is run by the Jews!” But once I could shake that off, France is where I discovered that I can’t live without art, music, or history. (And where I thought I could never live without pastry—how that’s changed! I’m so thankful I went to France before I learned I couldn’t eat gluten.)

Washington, D.C.: Taught me that dreams can be rewritten, and it’s not so bad. It taught me road rage (an unfortunate lesson) and never to depend on public transportation to get me anywhere on time (something I never had a problem with in France). D.C. surprised me with the state of the nation’s capital and the many, many homeless people wandering the streets. But it also showed me that I’m driven and can make a plan worth sticking to, and that I’m incredibly suited for creative environments. I learned that long distances really do strengthen a relationship, and I think we’re better off for that.

Winston-Salem, N.C….AGAIN: Returning to Winston-Salem made me question my path. You make a plan for yourself, and 3 years later, you couldn’t be further from where you thought you’d be. I’m still working this one out. But beyond that, this place taught me that in marriage (and life), it’s okay to depend on someone. I’d been so set on taking care of myself for so long that I forgot what it was like to have someone there to HELP. And let me tell you—it’s wonderful. I’ve also learned to once I’m out of that creative work environment, I crave it, and that it will find a way to surface, even if it means starting my own business.

And that’s where my story ends, so far. What happens next? And more importantly, where have you been that’s put you where you are today? I’d love to hear your stories.

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