So guess what!? I didn’t win the Mega Millions jackpot after all, and instead of sleeping so I can get up early and spend some quality time with my father in Santa Fe (believe me, my alarm is still set for 8 am), I’m sitting writing to all of you about my now over-caffeinated nostalgic thoughts, that is, whoever YOU are.

Shortly after I compared the numbers on my multiple losing tickets, to the Mega Millions website, I started going through an old photo album of mine from my senior year of high school. You know, those things we documented our memories in before Facebook ..? What I found were not just memories, but dozens of little promises I had made to myself. No, I’m not talking about anything like curing cancer or single-handedly battling world hunger, I’m talking about all those little “maybes” we had whirling about our seventeen year old heads.

I have spent my life on the verge of becoming a hoarder, prevented only by an obsessively clean mother and stern roommates. While going through my photo album, I came across the graduation announcement of a classmate of mine who I had never really been friends with. I opened the invitation and realized that I had graduated high school and gone about the last five years without even realizing what our class song was. Apparently we had voted “Our Lives” by The Calling as the musical representation of our various public school careers and relationships. I do remember however, that our student body president had been disgruntled by the selection and decided to play another song over the stadium speakers, which I was too distracted to pay attention to, thanks to the beach balls, silly string, and alcohol that were exhanging hands and pockets around me. I decided to Youtube (or rather VEVO) the song originally intended to be played at my high school graduation, and out of nowhere, that sickening and uninvited nostalgia started creeping in.

As the video played, I continued to go through the pages of my photo album, and out fell various business cards of people I had met at local, state and national student retreats and conventions… again, this was before you could just Facebook somebody and decide from their wall and photos if you actually wanted to extend your friendship beyond “liking” the occasional status. I was also amazed that within my mounting piles of scrap was actually a little map that pointed out the location of my favorite gelateria in Florence, Italy “Perche’ no!” (why not!? in Italian). I have been telling every friend and acquiantance of mine who has since traveled there to try the pistacchio gelato at this fantastic little gem of a shop.

 Still looking through photographs of my senior trip to Italy, I kept seeing pictures of myself with other students from another school. At the time, I was convinced I would become lifelong friends with these randoms… I haven’t spoken to any of them since. I also found photographs of places and things I promised that I would someday take the time to enjoy, like Venice’s Cafe Florian in the piazza di San Marco or the Rialto Bridge,  which (due to an annoyingly short city tour) I never got the chance to walk on.

I also promised myself when I graduated, that I would one day live in New York City. I thought that by virtue of making it to Manhattan, I would somehow have it all figured out. I’m realizing now that while my location has changed, I’m still trying trying to get to point B… although point A+/9, or wherever it is I currently am is giving me more life lessons than a book of soul food chicken soup or Oprah power secrets could possibly manage. What I have gained is the ability to realize that family is not bound by blood, that people can come into your life and somehow present more value than an aunt, cousin, or in some cases as equally as a parent or sibling. I am so lucky to have gained this type of family in both old and new friends. 

 In closing, I am giving my resolutions and promises to myself- not for the new year, but for the next five yeats by using the lessons I’ve learned from the last five. 

1. In the last five years I have gained and lost fifty pounds. I am promising myself to continually strive to improve my health so that I may not only fit into those amazing $19.99 jeans they sell at Uniqlo, but also so I can be  around for as long as possible.

2. I have continually made excuses to myself as to why I couldn’t be in a serious relationship “yet”. I keep telling myself that I’ll be ready for commitment when I get to a specific point in my life, but honestly, I don’t even know what that is! I’m not saying that I am going to move in with the next guy I date, but I do promise to stop making excuses and to let whatever happens in that area of my life  take it’s course. What I do know, is that I have definitely been on at least 50 first dates in the last five years, and I am exhausted.

3. Since I have five years, I do promise to order lunch at Cafe Florian… after a walk on the Rialto.

 4. I promise to try and think more positively about others when my first, second or even third impression of them is not so savory. I am saying this because when I first got to New York, there was a group of people who I strongly disliked, and finally after years of mutual distaste, we realized that both parties were to blame. I was the new kid, they were trying to protect the fort, and since we were all dealing with our own various insecurities, years of whispering, rumors and REALLY dirty looks ensued. Needless to say, we are all now friends and I can’t believe that I have missed out on having these folks in my life. But as they say… better late than never.

5. Finally, I will try my hardest to keep the excitement and curiousity that I had when I graduated high school. Since life is a journey, I promise to never be disappointed in where I currently am in life, because even if I’m not there yet, I’m on my way to something, and I’ll tell you what that is when I get there.