Wednesday, September 5, 2012

This is your life, Rachel Caldas

These kids make me a better person :)
Since I left Atlanta for college at 18, whenever I've needed to recharge, reflect and/or make a really, really big decision, I've tended to head home. Home being wherever I can sit and do absolutely nothing with my twin sister and have the best time ever. Home being where I see my little sister and brother and realize I want every move I make to be a move they can look up to. Home being the place where I get to hear my Dad's jokes, rants and wisdom and catalogue them away as words I hope never to forget.

These past few weeks I went looking for time to think, answers to questions and all of the comforts I described exactly where I knew I would find them. At home.

2012 has definitely marked a year of transition for me. I have ended a major relationship that has been the center of my life for several years. With any luck and a lot of hard work, I will be ending my master's program and completing a thesis by this December. I've taken on new jobs and seem to be continuously doing so (today's surprising news will be revealed in a couple of weeks), all as part of what is becoming a brand new and exciting career plan. Even in peripheral things such as my climbing and modeling I've made both major breakthroughs and discoveries about myself.

As the year has been speeding by at an ever quickening pace, I had become overwhelmed by the feeling that I had absolutely no idea what I wanted, scared of falling behind or going backwards, and equally frightened to take a step forward. After a goal that I had worked toward and wanted for so long slip away, I found myself left unsure of who I am all on my own.

My Daddy.These are moments you don't get to be a part of if you don't live at home...
So when this overwhelming, lonely feeling strikes - what do I do? I plan a long ass, inconveniently timed, ridiculous trip home so I can soak up all the comfort and safety that is my Daddy's (yes, Daddy, because I am most definitely a Daddy's girl in the best sense of the expression) and sister's and family's homes.

On this trip, I actually planned very little in comparison to trips past filled with weddings and St. Patrick's day celebrations and cross state road trips. This was partially because I've learned from those previous "vacations" that over planning will lead to more stress and exhaustion than I arrived with. Also, my sister transformed herself into master socialite and hand picked dozens of art, music and other equally awesome stuff for us to try out each and every day in order to better convince me that whatever decisions I would be making during my time at home, it should involve my triumphant return to the dirty dirty.

What ended up happening during my laughter filled and sleep deprived ATL takeover was what my stepmother oh so accurately described as my very own personal series of "This is your life, Rachel Caldas."

Me, in my usual state around Alice, laughing.

From day one I got to see people (aside from family) that marked distinctly significant parts of my life, from high school through my last years of college. Best friends that I don't get to see for years but still laugh with as if no time has passed at all. People I've looked up to who found me and flattered me by taking the time to come out, meet up and have a good time with me. Unexpected connections with people that weren't much more than a moment in my past but somehow have turned into new friends I hope to keep for a long time. And all of these meetings, just like the fifties show, brought with them anecdotes and stories and memories and jokes that I had all but forgotten. But also, and most importantly, a sensation of rediscovering myself as my past self joined with my present self.

My sister took care of me, introducing me to practically everyone she knew in her strange and fascinating, artsy world. If you ever want a guide for a good time in Atlanta, call her, because she knows how to show someone a city in a way that will make you never want to leave. Art openings, dance parties, perfect little cafes and bars, the biggest rock climbing gym in the US, outdoor markets, the greatest time ever just walking down the street. Add a job that really means something (my sister has two in her art and her work with domestic violence survivors) and family and its no wonder my sister has planted her roots in Atlanta.

For me, it took a little more to realize Atlanta is where I want to be. But what was it that convinced me, this time more than any of my other trips?

Maybe I am just moving back for the climbing gym...
I think I finally heard all the self doubt I've stored up after so many unexpected detours in my voice as I talked to my family and friends about what's next. I realized that being scared, that whatever was freezing me up, whether its going backwards or going forwards, fear just doesn't suit me, and its time to just do something and go for it again.

Cause going for it - not standing still - that's my style.

I will be successful and happy and find everything I've ever believed in. Maybe in Atlanta, but even if that's not the case... well, there is still the amazing rock climbing gym and perfect little cafes and the art openings until the next big change.

And of course, there's my family :)

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