20 years… poof!

it has happened. i have reached the age that i thought about as a teenager. the day has come. something that seemed so far off in the future, that i thought for sure by now i would be traveling around like the jetson’s (if you don’t know who they are you are either too young or not american, or both. hehe) in some car in the sky. i never imagined i would be living in sweden, surfing & blogging on this thing called the internet, and married to a women when this day came. i remember thinking how old people were when they hit this milestone. like having gray hair, and boring jobs, and lots of kids, and almost ready to retire (i told you i thought that people were old when they experienced this milestone. hehe).

but, here i am. 38. not traveling in a flying car like the jetson’s (which still disappoints me). not even having a car, since i live in europe. not having gray hair, or a boring job, or lots of kids (not that there is anything wrong with that at all!), and nowhere close to retirement. ha! instead, i’m divorced. remarried. an aspiring writer & photographer. a blogger. a traveler.

nope. i never could have imagined this life. not in my wildest dreams. and you know what? it is actually way better than i could have ever dreamed. and the journey the past 20 years has been unforgettable, exhilarating, trying, liberating, and empowering. wow. how could i have ever known, when i walked across that stage dressed in a paper-thin red robe to grab that rolled up piece of paper, the journey that awaited me. 20 years ago… i’m blown away. shit, how time flies.

yes. today, this weekend, is my 20th high school reunion. eeeeekkk!

of course, my high school is in greensboro, north carolina and i am in sweden, so unfortunately i don’t have the chance to schmooze with all of my high school acquaintances. i say acquaintances because i didn’t have that many people i called friends. i was weird. different. somehow an outcast. not by choice, though… because i longed, longed, longed to be part of THE group: you know, the girls & guys who were beautiful, rich, popular, athletic, funny, creative, had everything, and were everything that i thought that i was not.

high school was a tough time for me. part of me loved it. the traditions. the rivalries. some of the classes. but, high school was so much about friends & fun, and i knew that my level of fun could’ve been higher than it was, if only i was more popular. if only i wasn’t so different. i have no idea how i was different, i just was. i was most definitely NOT confident. i didn’t really like myself, or i was always trying to be someone else, always looking across the aisle and dreaming of being the beautiful, dark-haired, incredibly intelligent cheerleader. oh, how i dreamed of being accepted. of being noticed. of being someone. anyone but me.

but, i had a wonderful boyfriend, who was a year older & way more mature, and didn’t go to my high school. and i had my youth group friends. so, i had some fantastic support & my own fun. but, true to who i am now (though i didn’t like it then), i did things my own way. i teetered back & forth between feeling ok and feeling like i just wanted all this to be over. i remember telling myself very often, “this will not last forever. as soon as high school is over, things will change. you will get through this, and you will soar when it’s all over.”

so, i am bummed that i am not gonna have a chance to see all these people tonight at the reunion. not for their sake, not to prove anything to them, because none of them were mean to me. i was not bullied or anything. i just went unnoticed and not included, perhaps mostly due to my fault when i look back. no, i am gonna miss being there for my sake. because i know who i am. and i love who i am. i am proud of my journey through the past 20 years. and i am confident, caring, and friendly… even if i’m still a loner, an introvert, and a bit different.

the difference is, i now embrace my difference.

in fact, i love being different. a big change from the elizabeth of 20 years ago, and somehow, exactly the same.

ok. now for the fun stuff. a blast from the 1992 past.

on the big screen:

basic instinct, aladdin, the bodyguard, a few good men, home alone 2, toys

in our ears:

Colour Me Badd, R.E.M, UB40, Young MC, Rob Base, The Divinyls, Beastie Boys, House of Pain

on the tube:

Home Improvement, LA Law, Married… with Children

yeah. hard to believe, but it has been 20 years since i graduated from high school. it’s truly hard to imagine because time has flown by, but it feels like an eternity at the same time. do i feel old? not at freaking all. i feel like life is just beginning to take off again. so, i’d say my 20th high school reunion is a perfect starting point for new journeys and new experiences. who knows what lies ahead?!

38 year old me.

for those of you who are in high school, or college, or just feel stuck in life, don’t give up. it does get better. try hard to believe in yourself, hold on, and listen to what your soul is saying to you. no matter what people say or think, be true to yourself. it’s a tough journey, but to be truly free is to accept who we are and to live from that, chasing our dreams, following our heart, and soaking up life. you are so worth it!

happy 20th, fellow page pirates! hail to the buccaneers!

peace to all y’all out there.

i wanna graduate from high school in sweden.

last friday was graduation day for many “high school” students in sweden. well, at least in my city. we had a family member (lina’s cousin) who graduated from the music program… and he graduated highest in the school!! the celebrations here are much, much different than how we do it in the states. everything feels much more celebratory here. and the students who are graduating celebrate with dinners, breakfasts, fikas, bbq’s, parties, all week long. then, on graduation day, family & friends stand outside the school building as groups of students (a class = the 25ish students who study in the same program for the 3 years they are in “high school”) run out in their suits or white dresses and graduation caps. they sing a song, do a cheer, and then find their way through the crowd to their families, who are standing & holding a big sign with a picture of the student as a child on it. it’s really a great tradition! and i was so excited to be a part of it (from a family perspective) for the first time!

all other students have closing ceremonies all over the city on the last day of school. one was at the church where i work, so i went to it in the morning before the graduation later in the afternoon. it just so happened that a lot of the youth that i work with and family members were a part of this closing ceremony. so, two birds with one stone. yes!

here are some shots from the day:

 a group of 6th graders who are in a music program in school… their musical talent impresses me every time i hear them! in the pic are family members & youth. after this concert is over, their summer began!

 a little celebratory fika for all the kids in the family who had their last day of school. yum yum yum!

 now the graduation! families & friends waiting with their signs. so exciting!

 students looking down from the windows, waiting for their turn to run out on stage to officially graduate.

alfred’s (lina’s cousin) class on stage. yay!

 the sign. cool, huh?

cousins hugging… congratulations, alfred! stort grattis och lycka till!!!

and the after graduation tradition… ride around the city in a truck/tractor with music blaring, toasting each other, singing, & yelling. so basically, there are these trucks all over the city all day long. so much fun!

i wanna have a swedish graduation. doesn’t it look like so much fun?!

peace out.

yellow & blue. all day long.

about 10 days ago it was the anniversary of my graduation from high school. guess how many years it’s been? twenty!! yes, 2.0. 20!!! i cannot believe that i am old enough o be celebrating 20 hers since i graduation from high school. i was 17 and the whole world was in front of me. well, as an american what wanted to get a job, going to college/university was what was ahead for me. that’s the drill for most americans, those who have gotten scholarships or can afford to pay, that is. anyway, the fact is, if you want a job in the states that will give you health insurance and enough money to live (but not be rich, although that can happen too, i’ve heard), then you’d better get yourself directly to a university, some place of high education in order to get a degree. in something. anything.

let’s not even get into the discussion of all those teenagers who don’t do well in school, who can’t afford to go to a university but instead have to get a low-paying job anywhere that will hire them without skills or education, or who aren’t ready to choose (at the age of 18) what they want to do for the rest of their lives…

the typical path to follow is college. directly after high school graduation. ok. you get the summer off, but then. back to school. for 4 or more years. if you’re lucky.

today i watched lina’s amazingly talented & smart cousin’s “graduation” from “high school”. quotation marks are necessary because it’s not graduation like you might think it, american friends. nope. it’s way more of a celebration. and it’s not exactly high school, but it is. it’s the best way to describe it so you understand. in any case, it was a bunch of 18-ish year olds finishing their courses of study before moving on their next adventure in life… like a folk school. think community college, but how they should be. without the negative connotation. here they are seen as great educational places. just another option & a place to study some higher education, but for a shorter period of time usually & with the aim of learning some specific skills… from social work to restaurants to photography to child care. you name it.  or a university. or a year to travel. or a chance to be an au pair/nanny. or a job (because some have studied something specific in high school that leads directly to a job – like medical technician or child care).

my point is, there are plenty of legitimate, well-respected options from which to choose.

my wife’s cousin is a musician and has been accepted into a really great music school, so that’s his direction so far. anyway. today we watched him run out with his class (and by class i do not mean 350 students who have all been in the same grade. i mean a class of about 25 who have studied together for 3 years), sang some songs, and looked for their families to collect hug after hug of congratulations.

i’ve got tons of pictures from today on my nikon, but i won’t have time to deal with them until monday sometime. so, you’ll see a lot more then. for now, here’s the picture of the day: yellow flowers (yellow is the word today) we bought to hang around the neck of lina’s cousin. it’s a crazy flower necklace kinda thing. in yellow & blue. sweden’s official colors. everybody gets them.

i’ve also got a few more fun peeks into the last day of school for everyone. but, more pics coming in a few days, i promise!

for now, i’m off to dreamland. hope you have a great friday night and a fabulous weekend. i’ll let you know what i’m up to this week shortly tomorrow morning before i am out of touch for 2 days…

goodnight. and peace.