When i was growing up, I tried very hard to make sure that I thanked my parents on a daily basis. This was when I was old enough to know from social etiquette that I should be thanking them but too young to quite fully grasp why they deserved my constant praise. As the angst and condescending attitude of my teenage years has faded, this feeling has crept back up on me, so much so that I am sometimes overwhelmed by the crushing need to beg their forgiveness for all my shortcomings, my fibs over the years, and all the times I have been unappreciative. However, as I have gotten older, I no longer wonder why it is that I need to thank them and instead try to offer pointed gratitude. As I sit at a computer desk in sunny Tenerife with a new tan, writing this post, using internet that costs 1€ an hour (money that, although i worked 7 days a week for 15 weeks this summer, comes from my parents at this point), I can’t help but examine how exactly I came to be here.
Two years ago, I was going through the process of transitioning from an 18-year-old to a 19-year-old. I began shedding the last remnants of my high school years. I realized what exactly I wanted out of my education and why. My parents were consistently there to support whatever decision I made, and trusted me to do most of the work of transferring without them. I began the process of a very long and heartbreaking end to my relationship with someone who had been both my absolute best friend in the world and my first real, earth-shattering love. My parents, and especially my father, let me cry when I couldn’t speak, gave me level-headed yet romantic advice that spoke through the cloud of “but him and I are different” that no one else’s words (besides yours, Ari) did, offered me tough love when it was all that was left to do, and, before I even met the man, instilled in me a degree of self-love and confidence that enabled me to find myself again after I got a bit lost in a haze of soul-sucking loss. I was rejected from an internship at a Law Firm on the basis that I was too young and they had better applicants, a rejection that absolutely infuriated me and also threw my self-assurance for a loop I did not anticipate. My parents ensured me that I would find something else to do with my summer, and although they knew I would be at Oxford for an entire year, supported me as I went off and lived and worked in New York City with a different family. A few weeks ago I felt, for the first time in my life, a degree of homesickness so intense that I, the world-traveler, independent woman, wanted nothing more than to go home and curl up with my dog, watch Friends, and read Dante’s Inferno over break. My parents, again, agreed to finance either my trip home or help enormously with my trip not-home, heavily suggesting that I stay put and take advantage of the opportunity that “I worked for.” They took absolutely no angle of selfishness, something that I, an avid Foucault reader, remain baffled by.
I am where I am because of them. And to a probably lesser extent than many 20 (SOON TO BE 21) year olds, I am who I am (my parents have always let me grow in my own way). For this reason, I want to dedicate this post to my parents: the absolute heroes in my life.
Mom: You have offered me, quite literally, unconditional love to an unfathomable degree. I have never seen someone love the way you do. I want you to know how much I admire your ability to endure all of the lemons life hands you, especially those hand picked and hurled at you from your teenage daughter. I do not only admire you as a mother, but as a teacher, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. I have overheard your compassion in phone conversations, a tone that I hear myself genuinely emitting when I talk to my own best friends. I am growing up to be less like you than others predicted, but more so in your image than I ever thought possible. I was hand dancing the other day. You were my first best friend and I promise you, no matter where I end up, that no one will ever be able to take your place.
Silver Fox: You have always made me feel safe, kept me far enough from harms way, but also pushed me into some deep water, keeping the safety line far enough to make me swim on my own. Just like the king in the princess stories you used to tell me when I was little. You make me laugh without trying to at the most vital times. That is something that very few people can do. You are always trying to better yourself as a father, husband, friend, athlete. You strive to make yourself happy instead of waiting and wishing for the stars to align, a trait that is reflected in me in almost everything I do. When my heart was in millions of pieces, you picked them up and promised me that I was too precious to be broken, and that the person I was going to be with would love me and cradle my heart gently. You are the number one man in my life, and as utterly cliche as this sounds, when the fourth man (after Matt and Tim of course) walks in, I hope he is like you.
If it were not for both of you, I would certainly not be able to have seen the world the way I have, learned so much about myself, and received and worked for an education that I am both proud and shocked to have under my belt. Not just academically, but in so many other ways. Perhaps most importantly, you have taught me the importance of family. I am not sure “lucky” is the right word, as it barely scratches the surface of how I feel to have you as my forever-loving, fighting soldiers. Know that I would not have gotten through the past few, tumultuous years of my life with a determined, hopeful, and happy head on my shoulders without you. You have been my anchors and have guided me away from the rocks and safely to shore.
This may seem like quite an off topic post to a blog that is supposed to be about my study abroad experience. Touché. However, for anyone reading, homies at Oxford, prospective study abroad students, homies in America, strangers, homies all over the world, think again if that is how you perceive it. My parents have been integral to every second of my time here, and for that they deserve a post of their own.
My Mom comes to London/Paris with my two aunts in five days, and when I have cheaper access to a computer, I will write about Istanbul, Athens, Rome, and Tenerife! WOAH CLIFFHANGER!