TEN

...all right is almost always where we eventually land, even if we fuck up entirely along the way.
— Cheryl Strayed

I've spent nearly a third of my life telling stories about my life on the internet. There are two camps of people: those who anticipate new posts and enjoy following along (hi mom!) and those who just... don't... get it. 

"But whyyyyy?" they ask, wondering what would compel a person to share the details of an otherwise ordinary life for anyone on the World Wide Web to read. 

I'll tell you a story. 

Ten years ago I was just 23 years old. I sat alone at my desk in my bedroom in the apartment I shared with my best friend, typing away, trying to navigate the Blogger website. I was single, six months into my job at a newspaper in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Still navigating the new life, still making new friends. 

I'd run my very first marathon the month prior. I swore I'd never run another -- that's how hard it was. I'd yet to run a half marathon. Please, I was still recovering from a summer of marathon training. For that one marathon. 

Today, ten years later, I've recently finished my 18th marathon, and I've got 45 half marathons under my belt. But ten years ago, I had no idea. 

I sat in my room, having no idea that within the next six months, I'd begin dating a man and he'd propose to me on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean in Myrtle Beach, and that I'd marry that man a year later only to leave him shortly thereafter. 

That night, alone in my room, I didn't know that I'd move 13 times in the next ten years. I didn't know I'd leave Oshkosh in three years, head back to my hometown, head east to Milwaukee, back to Oshkosh and eventually run away to Madison, Wisconsin, with an entirely new career so I could escape a terribly broken heart. 

I hadn't yet met the man who'd break my heart like that. Or the men whose hearts I'd break years later. 

Ten years ago I'd never been to California or Washington D.C. or seen a mountain. I hadn't yet lost two more grandparents or any of my jobs. George W. Bush was president ten years ago. I didn't know I'd campaign hard for the first black president just a few years later, and that Barack Obama would lead the free world for eight years. I had no idea I'd shake his hand during a campaign stop. 

I still had two cats ten years ago. I had no idea I'd navigate my own way through a hurried divorce at just 26 years old, and that I'd feel embarrassed and ashamed by that for years. Or that 11 moves later a man would knock on my door, and I'd love him, too, but eventually make the decision to leave him when my life and heart were pulling me down a different path.

I'd have my heart broken, I'd break hearts, and I'd break my own heart. 

That night ten years ago I didn't know the worst day of my life would come the day I decided to put my cat to sleep. That I'd hold her while the veterinarian injected her with the serum that would stop her heart, and that I'd wish my heart would stop, too. 

I didn't know I'd eventually rescue a dog or that Chicken would become the best, most amazing creature to literally ever exist on the entire planet. That I'd cling to her with my life when she became the solo cat in my household. 

I only had two tattoos ten years ago. Today I have nine. Did you know one of those tattoos covers one I got right after  my honeymoon? Turns out when they say to never tattoo a name -- or, in my case, initials -- on your body, they mean it. I'd pierce my nose two different times in the next ten years, and decide eventually that life would be best with a naked nostril. You're welcome, mom.

While I sat in my bedroom on November 30, 2005, I lived two hours from my parents. That's the furthest I'd live from them for the next ten years. I'd never imagine life being any different. In 33 years, I've never lived outside of Wisconsin, even though my parents are now in Illinois. 

I had no idea at 23 years old that ten years later, on November 30, 2015, I'd be sitting at my kitchen table, in the same home as Chicken and my dog and the man I had to leave in order to seek the life my heart needed, planning to move a fourteenth time.

But this move will take me 29 hours away from my parents. Eighty miles will become 2,000. Ten years ago, while in my apartment with my best friend roommate, the idea of moving across the country terrified me, just like it does now, ten years later. 

Unlike ten years ago, I'm strong. I'm brave. My heart is tough. My soul is happy. I've lived through hard things and happy things and devastating things and wonderful things and emotional things and angering things and everything in ten years. I can live through this, too.

I'm excited.

And thanks to this blog, I won't forget any of these things. I don't want to.

Happy birthday, blog.