Seventeen and Crazy

I’ve never cared too much for the typical hullabaloo that is a birthday. Truthfully, that surreal day centered on oneself was shattered when I was seven. I doubt I’ll ever forget that birthday. Chocolate chip muffins. A four hour car ride. Wondering about why the sun reflects off the pavement to look like puddles. Seeing my mom in the hospital. Talking with her on the phone as I opened birthday gifts that evening.

 

 See, that summer that I turned seven was a difficult one. My mother spent most of it in the hospital with a life threatening post surgery infection. After a few weeks of such, my sister and I went off to my grandma’s for several weeks, returning on my seventh birthday. So at that young age, I realized that birthday are something that are meant to be special – but not perfect. No. Birthdays were not meant for self absorption and fancy ways, they’re meant for the simple things that make you smile all compiled into one day. And birthdays are especially made for reflection.

 

 Therefore, here I am. Reflecting on a year that I will entitle “The Year of the Firsts.” {P.S. Titling years is really fun} In the last year, I got my drivers license, started college, got my first job, shot my first weddings (second shooter or reception), got my first internship, and well, that’s a lot of firsts.

 

 Now some of my reflections I shall save for myself or else you’d be tricked into reading about ten pages of different things that happened this year and I have cheesecake waiting for me at midnight (self started tradition 3 years running!!). I will say, that this year has been full of surprised and mostly good surprises. Of course, one terrible surprise stands out: losing Austin in February. That will haunt me as another addition to the year of first – the first person my age that I personally knew to die. While I know he’s paint balling in heaven, I miss him and I still get tears in my eyes when I think about all the time that I missed.
 See, I could reflect all day.

 

 But I shall leave you with the thing that I look forward to the most about this year: being able to say “I’m seventeen and crazy.” Yes, because seventeen is an anticlimactic birthday wedged between 2 big ones (being able to drive and being able to date/being an adult – GREAT things if you ask me), the one thing I looked forward to since junior high was being able to quote Clarisse from Fahrenheit 451. This quirky, outcast who inspires a man to completely rethink the way that his life operates introduces herself that way. “I’m seventeen and crazy.” I’ve been in love with that phrase for years. Now it’s finally mine.

 

 I’m seventeen and crazy.

 

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The Handwritten Letter

I must have looked like a crazy person, digging inside of every notebook in Target’s isles to see which one had the prettiest paper inside for the best price. The post office worker offered a look of surprise when a teen came in and asked for a dozen stamps. My shopping addiction comes in the card section, fawning over cute note cards and pretty envelopes endlessly. Smashstick pens are a source of constant conversation as I gush about my fabulous $3 pen that has glue at the end. Because really, who doesn’t love glue?
 There’s something about letters that are indescribable. I’ve yet to find words for the feeling you get on a terrible day when you look at the counter to find a letter from a dear friend, it pouring out her very life story and soul onto pieces of notebook paper in a way that’s heartbreakingly beautiful. I’ve yet to find words for the feeling you get when you raise the flag on the side of your mailbox or open up the handle of the blue box. So instead of trying to explain away something spectacular, I push my pen against my paper and keep on writing.
 I’m not alone. As the ebb and flow of my mailbox has increased over the summer, it’s not only there that I’ve found friends. The odd thing is, a community of people who believe in handwritten hearts also like to hang out onthe corners of the internet. I picture them in a coffee shop, grabbing in their bags for their latest stationary to show to the others crowded around the table. They have a map in front, marking with little “x”s where their letters have gone.
 Tonight, I witnessed this community reach out and embrace one of our leaders in a giant bear hug. Hannah, the queen of the love letters, got to share her vision and the vision that we share – that letters are as valuable as gold and have the power to change the world. She did so through this video, one that we hope the whole world rises up and applauds, hopefully joining us in the task ahead.
 What a blessing it is to see twitter being filled with people uplifting and loving each other. I’ve known the sting of seeing personal insults on twitter feeds and how much sweeter is it to see inspiration! I’ve found such peace and solace in the love letter writers, the twenty-something bloggers, the “huggers”, and those that seek to use the digital for some good.
 We band together to make this world brighter; to show the world that we care.
 We open up our hearts onto tweets and onto scraps of paper.
 We stick quote filled post it notes on our college campuses and we write on facebook walls simple words of hope.
 We believe in letters. We believe in love letters to the world in whatever form they come.