Monday, June 4, 2012

Better than fiction.

Prologue & Disclaimer: This entry only contains brief references to wedding planning. I have decided that in order to be able to post more I am going to write what I feel like writing about, which will likely often end up looping back to my wedding and/or my amazing lady and our relationship as we adventure down this path. Planning anything gets interrupted with life, a lot. I think that is the fairest and most honest thing I can say about this whole planning process (and adventure), and why "life" shall now become a bigger part of this blog. It's real.

Throughout my life I have always found "being me" rather entertaining. Not usually in the present (up until recently, anyway), but certainly in hindsight. As I have grown older and met new friends whom, usually after a drink or two, start probing further into the many adventures I have had up until I meet them, it has not been uncommon for, at the end of the long and oh-so-tangential, the new friend or friends to say something in the realm of,
"you could publish a book on this."

I always laugh this off. As, while in theory that sounds flattering, it isn't. Especially if you know the ups and downs of those many adventures (as most of those who read this blog do... if you have come across this endless ramble you have likely either heard at least a handful or, lucky you, been a partner in crime in them*).  That said, regardless of whether or not it is flattering, I do know that it is very, very true, so I have not ever and will never take offense. If the crazy pants fit, I wear them proudly. 

I have, admittedly, made sure my life never was and never will be dull. Sometimes I think that, as the years grow more numerous between some of the more ridiculous situations I have found myself in, I have embellished parts of the stories or increased the drama with each retelling. This weekend, after a seriously emotional start to packing up my life for the big move, I was able to reassure myself that this is not the case. I can't bring myself to say I was necessarily "comforted" by this reassurance and confirmation that each of these tales are, in fact, as odd, bizarre, crazy, or even appalling as they sound - but hey, at least I am not a storyteller. Well, fictional storyteller.

How did I get the soul-filling "joy" of confirming this? I have written in a journal since my friend Elisabeth gave me one for my birthday in 5th grade. Well, to be fair, in large blue totes in my parent's basement, you could find a smattering of little "diaries" with cute little  - yet always dysfunctional - locks on the front to "keep all the secrets inside" (my dog could have gotten in, let alone my intelligent brother, if that was the purpose). These, however, have only a sprinkling of entries and except for one priceless one I know by heart where I confide in my journal the absolute horror of the fact that I no longer am excited for the first day of school, like I always used to be (oh the disappointment I thought I was going to spark!) for so many years before (all three of them!).

First on my order of things to pack on Saturday, while my lady was out golfing, was all of the books - I have too many. There, I said it. So, first and foremost, let's thank all-that-is-good-and-kind for my family getting me a Kindle Fire for my birthday this year, regardless of how much I claimed to not want one all of these years. There is a reason that humankind invented technology and it is so that we do not have to lug hundreds, if not thousands, of books around from house to house, city to city, throughout our lives. Save paper and save your back. Buy a Kindle.

the original.
As I packed box after box (after box), I saved the best for last - all of my photo albums, Italy scrapbooks, and journals. What better way to spend a blustery Saturday afternoon than in your basement with your "previous selves" sobbing in the fetal position? I cannot think of a single one. Win. I also laughed hysterically as well as felt my blood boil out of anger - perhaps even a little steam out my ears (cartoon style) - it was certainly not all tears. Some were happy tears, some were sad (and some were just ridiculous, like when I read my graduation speech aloud to Jake-the-dog and myself in an empty house). I started at a random page near the end of my first journal - it had a green vinyl cover with a jungle scene all over it. This one spanned the longest time (except for the last one which still sits half empty thanks to the advent of technology and the infamous blog, "Will She Ever Learn to Type? The original and the sequel... and now this), from 5th grade until almost the end of 8th grade, or even early 9th grade, I believe. The span of time is very apparent just be looking at the handwriting, let alone the writing, from the first pages to the last pages.

I used to just love to write and by middle school I started writing at least two or three times a week - or of course when anything life altering (to a 13 year old) occurred (in case you are too far from that age to recall - and you haven't taught them recently either - that standard is not high). Reading through my writing I can almost completely transport myself back to the day (and all of the emotions that went with it)... thanks, in part, to things like my "top 5 hate list," "top 5 friend list" and "and top 5 <3 [love] list" that was included in almost every entry for many, many years. I also would end every entry with a poem - possibly the most awful poetry I have ever read, in hindsight, but certainly the kind that creates a visceral reaction in your stomach (particularly if you are the person who was in that state of mine to write it in the first place). Between these "features" and my ramblings I spent a good portion of Saturday afternoon as teenage Ashley Boven. I traveled through gossip worthy best friend fights, six year long crushes, many firsts, and many relationships - the short, the long, the made-up, and the very real.

I think what was most striking to me was how much my writing then still mimics my writing now, especially my writing style and thought process. On the one hand, it is frightening to know your level of maturity hasn't changed dramatically since you were in 10th grade. But, even more so (at least to me), because it reminds me of how quickly I outgrew what the world refers to as your "childhood" and took on the burdens, worries and fears of those years older.

After a few hours like those I spent on Saturday, I was never more thankful and happy to have found the person I love so very much and get to spend the rest of my life with. It was not always an easy or straight path to follow to get here (ha! no pun intended, but I'm still chuckling), but I am so incredibly lucky that I made it. And yet, even when it seems like the ridiculous adventures of me are nearing their final chapters, I find myself still stumbling into new ones of a whole new (and generally even happier and more joyful - which is impressive given how amazing my family was when I was young) category.

When I first started going to my therapist earlier this year he had me fill out his "intake form." It walked me through sharing about the significant people who have shaped my life up until this point - both those currently in my life and those from my past. This was not a short list, nor was the text that accompanied each (to be fair, given the length of each of my blog posts, we all know I am not one to be brief). It ended up truly being a short novel. As I walked in to see him for our first real session, he was still in the middle of reading through it (I got there early, of course). As I sat down he looked up at me and said,
"my Ashley, this is quite the story you have, I think you could publish a book."

Just recently I brought up someone that was included in that novel as we chatted a few weeks ago. Naturally, he got the mini-novel out and read their chapter back to me. Again, as he finished, he repeated his initial statement he made to me upon meeting me. As unsettling as it is, I couldn't agree more. It's one thing when your friends tell you you could write a book. Generally, that is an entertaining comment to hear. When it comes from your psychologist...? Thanks.

However, the best part? The shortest chapter is the current one. So many adventures left to have!

*Or, if your alias is Lashley Bomith, likely either heard or taken part in 100% of them...

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