07.30.08

The Summer of My 10-Year

Posted in Monthly at 8:30 am by Pasha

In the hush of the early morning Southwest flight that would bring me back home from Chicago, my thoughts mirrored the past 10 years since I graduated from Fredonia High. A journey that has felt like a lifetime.

I remembered the teenage angst that drew me away from my small hometown. In my senior year I wanted to go to New York City or California, places that seemed to exist in the movies. But four years of premature partying and working two jobs had only allowed grades for entrance to a state school. And so I went an hour away, to Buffalo State.

There, in the web of pledging a sorority, living in dorms, and earning college credits, I knew for once that I was the person who truly controlled who I would become. It was not the life before this or the one I was in now that would define me. I defined Pasha. At 19, overweight, depressed, and deep in alcoholism, I reached out for help and ended up with Paulaya in San Antonio.

One thing the past 10 years has taught me is that in order to jump start a better life, begin with change. Ever since that first move, each time I felt myself slipping down the rabbit hole that can consume me, I made a change. For years it was moving to a different city.

I went back to Buffalo State thinner, blonder and much more confident … I had made it away from there! In that last year that I would ever spend in Western New York I had an amazing boyfriend, the security that I could work in any restaurant (and make plenty of a living doing so), and the role as President to my sorority. The trifecta of being at the top of my game catapulted me farther into deciding where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do professionally. I had always known that I would end up in New York. I decided it was where I would finish my degree and where I would make take great strides as a journalist.

I bounced from a summer in Boston—living, loving and laughing freely (I lived in one room with my best friend and kid sister—it doesn’t get any better than that) to new digs in New York. Jill and I made it to the Upper East Side and immediately felt we had arrived. New York has a way of doing that to a girl.

During the two years that I stayed on the island I finished school and molded myself into a self-assured, good natured, hippy-kind-of-a-chick. I stayed true to my roots, scoring Manolos at thrift stores and good looking men on the subway. It was an adventure. I was sad to say goodbye when I took a job in Florida. Looking back, Destin was another step in who I am 10 years out of high school. It made Pasha at 27 who she is, every bit as much as New York did.

For the first time in my life I worked in an office. I was a reporter, always excited and on fire, especially in the first six months. I lived at the most beautiful beach and made friends that would last a lifetime. I was sad to leave Destin for Atlanta when I fell in love with Matthew. But I chalked it up as another move, another change, that would propel me forward.

In Atlanta I learned that what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be would not be easy. I learned that Pasha wasn’t to be found in the South, far from home, longing for adventure and trapped inside a car. We toiled in that first year of love. Some days I wondered if I had made the right decision.

When Matt supported and encouraged our move to London I once again felt the butterflies in my belly, flapping in earnest, fear and delight of the unknown. I felt like me again, for the first time that year.

Those months in London were more surreal and dreamlike than anything I had ever lived. Sometimes I wonder if I was really there. We spent days at museums and nights confined to one room. Interesting flat mates and jobs as illegal immigrants sprinkled color into our world. We planned trips to other countries’ coasts and became experts on flying Europe’s budget airlines. I began writing again, less than I had in Destin but more than I had in Atlanta. In days of earning what we could and nights surrounded by library books, we decided to live on the beach again. This time in Costa Rica.

It was everything one could imagine, the Pacific, the monkeys, the open-air bungalow. It was our slice of paradise for three months that felt like forever. When we returned to the States, we made our home in Chicago.

After six months of being in Chicago I felt myself slipping into booze. I had stopped writing creatively, worked nights, and generally became bored and complacent with what I had. I tool control and changed what I could—since I want to stay in Chicago I couldn’t very well run to a new city. So, instead of figuratively running, I began running, literally.

In the six months before my 10-year high school reunion I worked out religiously. I stopped drinking, for the most part, and learned something about me that I never knew. I could be petite, with a body coveted my most women. I could push myself farther everyday. I can set standards and goals and reach them. I can be successful in any area I want to be.

When I walked into The White Inn, where nearly 30 of my classmates were, I felt fantastic. My hands were shaking, like I was walking into kindergarten again, but this time I did not have a hand to squeeze. I was all alone. On my flight home I couldn’t help but wonder, plan and fantasize about the next 10 years.