Good morning New York and good evening Wales. I am here (in Wales) with my family to celebrate my little brother turning 21.
Birthdays are a weird and wonderful thing. People have such varied reactions to them and their feelings about them are always so strong. Conner – my little brother – is going for the “ugh, I don’t know, I don’t care” response (like many men I know). He of course, does know and does care, but it is like pulling teeth trying to get this kid to celebrate. It’s also extra challenging for me because I am obsessed with my birthday and I can’t imagine not caring (somewhat obsessively) about this day. Family is about learning about different people sometimes and Wales is pretty much all about family for me. The great majority of my mother’s family lives in and around a small town here. It’s a beautiful area tucked between the Irish sea and Snowdonia National Park. My family has been living here for years all the way back to my great, great, great grandparents.
Family teaches me a lot and it continually challenges me. Whilst I’m home I make sure to spend extra time meditating and staying grounded in the things that are important to me. Going “home” pulls on all of your old frameworks and sometimes makes me feel like regressing back to the little 18 year old girl that left for NYC so many years ago. Sometimes I feel like I do the most growing up when I visit here because I grow in directions I never planned on or intended. I never wanted to grow less reliant on my family or grow to have different values than them, but inevitably things like that happen (and rightly so). I never planned on not being intensely homesick every time I leave here but after a while that changed too. I never planned on being someone different than the girl I was when I left for college (more accomplished and older) but not really different. But I am different. I went away and I gathered insights and value systems and knowledge. I took classes and built friendships that challenged my beliefs and the information I grew up with. I’m not a stranger here and this place will always inform me and it will always be the anchor of my personality. I guess the truth is, I don’t grow here so much as realize how much I’ve grown. Sometimes being here is about family and home but sometimes it’s also about seeing who the person I’m becoming is. I love the ways I’ve grown. I love that my value system is both informs and challenges my world here and I love that I am continuing to grow. I am glad I grew up. I am glad I went away and was brave enough to see and confront new ideas and frameworks. This is not to say I have “grown up”, just that I see change, positive change, and instead of feeling guilt or the need for regression, I am trying to accept and be grateful.
P.S. This image is from Irina Wening’s series Back to the Future – she took people’s childhood photos and reenacted them years later, there’s so much accuracy and detail. I felt it was a perfect match for this post and an awesome project.