Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanks to the Giving

For as long as I've been in Denver I have flown home for Thanksgiving. Every year I brave the airport on one of the most busy travel days and fight for a seat. The first year I was living in Denver it was just myself flying home as I hadn't met Chad yet so it wasn't too bad. My company, however, use to "black out" certain days meaning that if you were scheduled to work that day there was no way to get out of it except to call in sick. But, if you call in sick the day before or after a holiday you don't get your holiday pay. So my first year back home I had to fly back to Denver on Thanksgiving day which was a breeze because as you can imagine no one wants to travel this day.

Since that first year of work I've been lucky enough to have Thanksgiving and the subsequent days off before and after. Chad and I have always made it to Birmingham and back although one year we did have to fly into Huntsville, rent a car, and drive to Birmingham. Last year we took the red eye to Atlanta which resulted in not nearly enough sleep, too much alcohol on my part and a few tears shed in the airport. Traveling is always stressful but add in hoping for an empty seat on one of the craziest flying days plus visiting family....well it's a lot to take in.

This year I made the journey home by myself. Chad had opted not to travel because he has a new job and he couldn't get off until Wednesday and did not want to risk missing his flight back home. I also had my high school ten year reunion the saturday after which was added incentive for me to go and more reason he didn't want too. Because truly who wants to go to an obligatory function if they really don't have too?

Coming home is always bittersweet for me. I hate to leave Denver and yet when I leave Birmingham I dread saying goodbye as well. Things have changed over the years and the Birmingham I come home to now is not what it use to be. When I was in college, the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving was one of the biggest days to go out and sub sequentially run into nearly everyone we had gone to high school with. As you can imagine, Birmingham is not that big of a town and there are certain places everyone congregates at over the holidays especially. But as I grew older the faces changed and gradually it's gotten to the point where I don't recognize anyone anymore. It makes coming home a bit sad because most of my friends and even family aren't there to see anymore as everyone has moved states and created new lives for themselves.

This year, however I was guaranteed to see more people than I ever knew I cared too because of my ten year high school reunion. My sister, brother and best friend made the journey home, as well as my mom's oldest friend and her daughter and son and their cousin. So there was actually plenty to keep me occupied and glad I had returned. My dad cooked 45 lbs of meat for Thanksgiving dinner (too much as always) in typical fashion but it was fabulous having leftovers to eat for days. There were a few ventures out to bars to meet up and catch up and of course time shopping with mom.
I was skeptical of going to my reunion, especially without my husband, but I was able to meet up with my best friend from high school which eased my anxiety. Walking into my reunion was like walking into prom 10 years ago, except now I'm much more confident and sure of myself. The whole experience was exactly what I thought it would be only better. The girls either looked the same or worse and most of the guys had gained weight or had lost some hair. Having a few cocktails before our arrival, I was pretty comfortable talking to most anyone who came my way. Of course I've been working two jobs, over the past 5 years where I am forced to deal with people on a day to day basis. My promotions job forces me to walk into a bar full of complete strangers and say hi to everyone and convince them to buy my product. Every week I fly with a different crew so I'm forced to be outgoing or I'd be miserable. As it turns out I was actually glad my husband didn't come. It spared us both the awkwardness of me having to introduce him to people I barely even knew anymore. Most of the dates looked miserable in fact, although truth be told, a few were more talkative than their spouses or friends I had graduated with. The most amazing aspect to me was how few people even knew who I was. I had several people that I remembered well, introduce themselves to me before sneaking a look at my name tag with my picture on it.

At the end of the night there were awards which people had voted on for various things and I received the "Most Changed Since High School." If there was one award I could have possibly won, this above all others makes me the most happy. Although I'm definitely better looking now than I was then, what it means to me is that I'm not the same shy person who graduated 10 years ago. Many of those people were still the same, in looks and in attitude. The girls who were bitchy then are still bitchy now. The guys who were arrogant then are still walking around thinking they are better than everyone else. But apparently I'm not the same, and to me that's a good thing. As you grow up and older you should become more comfortable in your skin. To be able to talk to anyone and make people laugh, to let your own light shine through so people can see the side you always knew was there within yourself. When´╝ęgraduated my goal was always to become something more than what I was. And even though I don't have the highest paying job or live in the fanciest city, I'm glad to have moved on and created such a happy life for myself that others can recognize just spending a couple of hours with me even though it's been years. Of course, the bleach blond hair helps :)

In my every day life I feel I have so much to be thankful for. I'm glad I have two families now and two sets of friends. I'm thankful to have two places, both Denver and Birmingham to call home. I'm thankful that my past isn't the ghost I make it out to be and that I have am able to fly in and out whenever I choose. Birmingham will always be such a special place to me and so will my friends and family who are still there. It may have been my job who took me away from it all, but I always know, it's the job I do that enables me to return whenever I want...

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