On New Year’s Eve, many of us reflect on everything we’ve experienced and learned in the last year. What would we do the same, and what would we do differently? My most recent lesson is that I struggle with goodbyes and letting go of the old in order to move into the new. I don’t tell people what they mean to me as I’m leaving, instead, I’m fantastic at surprise disappearing acts because they prevent me from feeling the deep sadness of parting ways, crying in front of people, or acknowledging how much those people and experiences have meant in anyway that might make me miss them more. True to form, a couple weeks ago, I decided it was time to leave Dayton, but I’ve felt paralyzed every time I tried to tell someone. This weekend instead of spending time with the people I care about in town, I packed. “Rip it off like a bandaid,” I kept saying, and then midway through packing I paused, and I realized I don’t want to leave that way this time, you all mean too much. I think I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find any words important enough to express the gratitude I feel for the people and places I’ve grown to love, or conversely, no words would come out, just tears, and that it would be mistaken as regret. Rather, I feel a deep sadness at not having all you amazing people right around the corner, but also feel so blessed for the times I’ve shared with all of you and what I’ve learned from you. I’m regretting that I spent the last week or so not spending enough with my friends, or that I didn’t share I was thinking about moving earlier, but I also realize I was trying to let go, and seeing all of your faces might have made it impossible to pack a single box… I was afraid I would change my mind, because I’ve never left a place feeling so loved. Thank you all for being you and for being the sparks to reignite my flames. I came to Dayton feeling defeated and lost, and I leave here feeling inspired, full of hope, and with the knowledge that I was always meant to meet all of you. Someone once told me that each person we meet has a divine purpose in our life, and I know that each moment with each of you was perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing.
So, while I’m currently surrounded by boxes and have a bit too much on my plate to really dedicate the time I will eventually to blog about the meaning, purpose, and love I’ve found in Dayton in the last two years, I want to at least sit down and share with everyone how much you all have meant and what my plans are. In acknowledging that I’ve lived in Dayton for two years, I realized that the four months before I go to Thailand are going to fly by, and that life itself flies by. A few months ago, I moved into this beautiful house, I had an art studio, a beautiful space full of light, and a incredibly kindhearted roommate, it was more than I could have asked for. My whole experience in Dayton has been the same, more than I could have asked for. Yet when Brian came to help move me into this amazing new home, and I reflected on my wonderful life, I realized I wanted more than anything to share it with him. Since we moved back from Hawaii, we’ve been almost three hours apart, there have been times when we barely talked, and I know that we needed the physical and emotional space to both grown as people and to understand that what we have doesn’t have to do with timing. Love waits. But this time, when he drove away, I realized this amazing house I moved into was someone elses home, and that mine has been waiting two years for me to return, and I’m finally ready. Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling, it’s the moment when you accept each moment and person as perfectly imperfect and fall in love with your life. Each moment in our life leads us exactly where we need to be, and I realize I needed these two years in Dayton to remember who I am, and to learn to love myself enough to love another unconditionally. From the warm acceptance of a community, to the inspiration and love of friends and mentors, and of course the joy of the children I was so lucky to work with, this place has grown me into a person I could never have imagined being. I have no idea what comes next, just that the journey continues, and I want every step I take to be one where I share the love I’ve found with the people around me. The people I’ve met in Dayton have reminded me to share who I am, to find my inspiration and let go of my fears, to believe in even the crazy out there dreams, and most importantly, taught me how to live from my heart. I hope that keeping my official decision to myself for a few weeks is not misunderstood, because living in Dayton and meeting all of you has changed my life in a million magical ways, & I love each and every one of you.