When I returned home for the summer, I immediately got a job at a Brazilian restaurant, and my life changed drastically. I had friends, I had a social life, I had something to occupy my time. I went to parties almost every weekend, had girls' nights with my friends, and spent most evenings at the restaurant. Late at night, I'd sit at my computer and catch up with old friends or watch an episode of a TV show that I had missed, but, although I had plenty of stories to tell, it hardly crossed my mind to blog about it. And my days were spent in bed, catching up on sleep and driving my mother nuts with my refusal to emerge before noon.
At the end of the summer, my friends returned to school, and many returned to Brazil. Gone were the days of going out every night. I had decided not to return to school in Pennsylvania, as my happiness over the summer had made me realize just how miserable I'd been there. I moved out of my parents' house and into the bottom floor of a house with an old friend of mine. My nights now consisted of movie nights with my roommate and the occasional party on the weekends. I now had the time to blog, but I was missing one essential thing: an internet connection. My roommate and I never actually took the time to set one up, so I had to rely on a nearby coffee shop for my internet fix. And although I took to spending hours at a time there, surfing the web, sipping mochas, and enjoying the beautiful view of the lake through the huge bay windows at the back, once again I found it hard to motivate myself to write a blog. There was simply too much going on, both online and off.
Fall also heralded another drastic change in my life: although many of my friends had returned to Brazil, we did get a "fresh shipment", you might say, of Brazilians who were looking to move out of the Wisconsin Dells (a resort town that literally ships in international students on work exchange) and into a somewhat larger city. Two of the young men who were part of that migration became very large parts of my life. I first began spending time with J. He had formed a friendship with one of the few remaining Brazilian guys that I had hung out with over the summer, and we spent many nights together trolling for parties, watching movies, etc. J is a fun loving guy who is head over heels for a different girl every week (rumor has it that he even had a crush on me when we first met) and is somewhat flaky and unreliable, although he tries to be a great friend all the time. He's easy to like and fun to hang out with, and he's become one of my closest friends. When I first met him, J lived in a two bedroom apartment with the five (yes, FIVE) other Brazilians who had moved here with him. One of his roommates was a guy named E, J's best friend and much more shy and reserved. He's also more reliable, more serious, more focused, and has an ego as big as, well, Brazil. E took longer to get to know, as it was very difficult to find time to hang out with him. He was always opting out of spending time with us (J claims it's because he was shy), but I suppose all the invitations to parties and movie nights paid off in the end. He invited me over for dinner one night, and I've spent almost every night with him since. We just celebrated our one year anniversary at the end of October.
So what brings me back here? Clearly, my life has been fun and exciting for the past year and a half. Well, kind of. There have been a lot of shifts in the status quo lately that have thrown me off balance. E is in school and working, so I see much less of him, despite the fact that we are now living together. Two of my best friends, including my former roommate, have been phased out of my life to some extent. One (my roommate), was a drastic shift. We'd been grating on each others' nerves toward the end of our cohabitation, but I'd always meant to stay friends with her once we'd moved on, albeit not as close as we had once been. Part of that had to do with my distaste for the life that she was choosing to live, and part of it was just that we were sick of each other. But upon moving out, she left me with the majority of the final housecleaning and never responded to another phone call or text. I still don't know what happened, and I'm still more than a little angry, but I also see it as a good thing. She surrounded herself with drama, and I feel that I am much healthier, emotionally, for the lack of that. My other best friend drifted away more gradually, but for similar reasons. She flunked out of school, started partying constantly and sneaking into bars, got herself a junkie boyfriend and, rumor has it, has started playing with drugs far more dangerous than alcohol and marijuana. I still answer her calls and talk to her occasionally online, but, for the most part, I'm trying to stay out of her life. I find that if I'm close to her, I care too much and worry constantly, and, as there's nothing I can do to get her out of this situation until she decides to make the change for herself, I have to focus my energy on taking care of myself rather than draining myself fighting a losing battle with her.
In addition to all of this, I've realized lately that I have spent most of the last year working and doing nothing to fulfill my own emotional and creative needs. This was less of a problem when work was still a positive place, but things have gone downhill and the management has started treating us worse and worse. In addition to making me look for another job, it has also made me reevaluate what I do with my time outside of work. I have new friends (and have reconnected with some old ones) who I spend a lot of time going out (and staying in) with and who have provided me with a fantastic support system to help me face all of life's challenges. I've also taken a more active interest in my personal style and have been channeling some of my excess creative energies into experimenting with new make up and clothing and committing myself to looking good every day. Appearances may not be the most important thing in the world, but I've found that if you put an effort into your appearance, you end up feeling better. It has less to do with impressing the outside world and more to do with giving yourself something to be proud of. If you look at yourself in the mirror and say, "Damn, I look GOOD today!" it's very gratifying to be able to say that you did that for yourself. And, obviously, I have returned here, to my blog. After struggling with writer's block on a number of projects that I have tried and failed to even start, it seemed natural to return to a place where I have already written things that I am proud of. And perhaps I needed to get this story out before I could write something else. Even if no one else reads this, it feels good to be writing it. It's really the same as personal style: in the end, it's all about how it makes you feel, not about someone else's response. Hopefully, I'll be posting here more often from now on. Cheers!