25 Years, 25 Thank You Notes

The clock struck midnight and all of a sudden I was 25, an age I kept saying I didn’t want to be.  Blame it on the beginning of my quarter-life crisis, but at 12:01 I started crying alone in my room like a baby.  They weren’t even tears of sadness, they were mostly tears of joy and an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. I’m grateful for another great year of life and for being able to live in a country that I love, but most importantly, I’m grateful for the people who have made my heart happy in some way or another.

This is why it was here on my bed, with tears rolling down my face, that I decided to write thank you notes to some of my favorite people – especially those who have continuously been in my life these past couple of years.  I decided on 25 notes, because if I didn’t have a limit, I’d be here for three months trying to get through them all.  So if you want to try to find your name and skip the rest, go ahead.  Some of you I’ve known for an eternity and some of you have brought me happiness in the little time that you’ve been in my life.

P.S.  If you’re not in here, I’m pretty sure I adore you too so don’t take it to heart!

Love Always,

The Wanderluster

Mamá y Papá:  Quiero que sepan que aunque estén tan lejos, y solo les pueda hablar de vez en cuando, los quiero mas que a mi propia vida y quisiera tenerlos siempre aquí conmigo.  Se que no es fácil tener una hija tan loca, que le gusta viajar y que se enamora de todos los lugares extranjeros, pero estoy feliz de que hayan venido a conocer la ciudad donde ahora vivo y sentir la felicidad que yo siento cuando viajo.   Estoy agradecida con ustedes por todo lo que han hecho por mi y por apoyarme en todas mis decisiones. Espero que algún día les pueda dar todo lo que ustedes deseen y que los pueda llevar a viajar para que también ustedes se enamoren de la vida y de la belleza del mundo.

Ivette:  I know we don’t tell each other we love each other as often as we should, but the great thing about growing up together is that we don’t have to say it to know we feel it.  We don’t always see eye to eye and we have had more arguments than I can remember, but I wouldn’t want to have so many childhood memories with anyone else.  Thank you for being the perfect definition of a big sister, for pushing Brandy and I to do better, and most importantly for always driving us around everywhere 😉   I wish you were around so that I always had someone to have coffee or lunch dates with, because sometimes sister-time is all I need to keep me sane.

Brandy:  I sometimes creepily look at your baby photos and wish you were still little, but then realize I wouldn’t have someone to FaceTime with every weekend.  Even though we’re eight years apart, it doesn’t seem to stop us from having one of the best bonds a sister can ask for.  Thank you for making time out of your nerdy high school life to listen to my weekly stories.  I’m so proud of the smart woman you’re becoming and I really wish that I could be in two places at a time so that I could take you out or make you laugh with my stupidities when you’re feeling stressed.  Just know that nothing lasts forever and everything happens for a reason.  Your stress will go away and the hard work will pay off. I love you soooo freakin much!

Christina (Roomie):  Thanks for creating a home away from home with me, for being my therapist for the past two years, and for never being judgmental about my stupid life choices.  Know that you became like a younger sister to me even though sometimes you seemed to be the older sister (reminding me about bills, buying the necessary household items and giving me medicine when I was sick).  Thank you for taking day trips with me, for pigging out on sushi with me, and for listening to all my complaining via voice messages.  The greatest part about our friendship is that we somehow made it work even though we’re two completely different people. I could write a book about all of the memories we’ve made in the last 2+ years and I’d probably cry while doing it. I wish you all the best back in Jersey and hope that we don’t let our friendship fade away, so that someday I can go visit you (cough cough, hopefully your wedding).

Giulia: It might sound repetitive because I post about you all the time, but I miss our life in Rome together! You were that little piece of Los Angeles Latina that I’ve always needed with me here. I think about that semester when we were inseparable and I swear I would go back to college just to have it back.  We were the definition of spontaneous; texting each other past midnight asking if we should try to make it to last-call. Thank you for letting your apartment be my study space, my kitchen, and my sanctuary for a semester.  I’m glad we were able to hang out last weekend even if only for a few hours, to talk about life and reminisce on our past.  I hope we can make more memories in the future, whether here or in LA!  You just left me and I already can’t wait to see you again.

Tia Rebeca y Tío Jairo:  Cada vez que me despido de ustedes me pongo a llorar por que siento igual de feo como cuando me despido de mis padres.  Para mi eso se han convertido, en mis segundos padres.   Les agradesco todo lo que han hecho por mi.  Gracias por estar al tanto de mi y de Ivette cuando mi mama se mudó, por invitarnos a su casa a comer cada vez que cocinaban, y por cuidarnos como si fuéramos sus propias hijas.  Espero que algún día puedan venir a visitarme para que vean porque me he enamorado de Italia.  Los quiero mucho!

Tia Sonia, Tío Benjamin, Jasmine, David, Christian:  David you can translate this to spanish for your parents on Google lol.  David, when I cried my ass off to you before I moved to Rome and I asked you to take care of my mom and Brandy in Bakersfield, it was mostly me being drunk and dramatic, because I knew you were already doing just that.  It makes me feel so much better to know that my mom and Brandy have you all there for support. Oh and Jazzy, I could cry every time I think about how grateful I am that you’ve been like a sister to Brandy since my parents separated.  I love you all so much!

Lindsey:  You’ve been in my life for less than a year and I already adore you! Sometimes I wish we would’ve started hanging out a long time ago, but then I realize we’d probably be morbidly obese by now. Thanks for inviting me over to cook so many times, for taking me on motorino adventures, and for being my little Mexican gringa in Rome.  I appreciate your way of always trying to help with my problems, and especially for being that friend that wants all of her friends to succeed.  I hope that wherever you decide to go to become a successful business woman, you have a giant garden (that you planted yourself of course) and chickens.  I’ll be visiting you! I can sleep in the chicken coop like a real ranchera!

Sarah: I seriously can’t tell you how proud I am to be your friend! You do so much for others and expect nothing in return.  I’m so happy that we got to do that internship together over summer, so that I could hang out with you for a few hours during your busy life.  My favorite memories will always be our happy nights at 4:20, dancing all night at the Gazometro, or that one day we were translating in my living room and my ghost made an appearance (at least I know I’m not crazy).  Thanks for being in my life and for helping me every time I’m in trouble.  I appreciate it more than you know!

Francesca:  You went from being my Financial Aid counselor to my friend and office buddy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Thanks for always making the office a happy place with your music, for being my fashion inspiration, and most importantly for giving me that little glimpse of hope for finding love.  I seriously love it when you talk about love, family, and the future. You don’t know it, but little by little you make me start believing in love too.  Kids though, I’ll have to think about that for a bit longer.  Anyway, I love you and wish you all the best now that you’ve left me.  I know you’re going to find something amazing because you’re a smart girl with so much potential.

Jessica: Perhaps you haven’t realized how important you are to me, but for two years now I’ve considered you to be my office mom/big sister. Thank you for all the rides to and from work when I’m feeling way too lazy to take the bus.  Thank you for always worrying about me and asking how my life is going; I know I complain till there’s no tomorrow, but you’re always there listening to my rants and giving me advice.  I know that I’m a stubborn woman who is obsessed with Italy, but just know that I keep all of your advice engraved in my memory.  Regardless of where life takes me, I hope you remain in my life because I need your constant reminders to be positive and happy!

Merel:  I knew we were gonna be friends from the moment I saw your little food truck and tried your food! Bonding over food and drinks is always the best way to build a friendship – and we’ve done just that.  Thanks for feeding me delicious food all the time, for taking me out to with you to experience selling from a food truck, and for always being down to go out to eat with me. I know we’re both confused and frustrated with the way life in Rome is treating us recently, but just know that everything happens for a reason and that life will lead us exactly where we need to be.

Yael: I think you’re the only one that knows all my deepest dirtiest secrets and who always makes me feel better about stupid decisions I make – especially with boys. Thank you for texting me on the regular and for putting aside 1-2 nights a week to FaceTime with me.  I love that you don’t give a damn if it’s 8 PM for me and 11 AM for you, you’ll still pour yourself a beer just so we can have a drink together. Thank you for making me feel like I’m still part of the LA life; I know that the distance will never affect our friendship and that when I go back we’ll bounce right back and you’ll make me feel as if I never left LA.  I can’t wait for the next time we see each other so we can day drink together while having awesome girl talk!

Lorenzo:  Don’t let it get to your head, but I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much with anyone else the way I do when we’re together.  Thanks for being the greatest drinking partner, for occasionally cooking me delicious Italian dinners, and for being able to always handle my bitchy sarcasm.  I know I’m a complicated creature who likes to pick a fight with you every chance that I get, but thank you for being patient with me and also stubborn – it’s actually a plus when it comes to dealing with me (sometimes).  I know we drive each other insane, but I hope that we can make more time for each other so we can have more home-cooked dinners and late night laughs.  Oh!!! And adventures on your Ducati!

Yvette: I miss our late night taco runs, the therapy sessions in your car, and the long way home just so we can squeeze in another conversation about life.  Thank you for being my long-time therapist, the greatest listener, and the best advice giver I could ask for.  Thanks for knowing what to say every time I’m worried and overwhelmed and for occasionally dealing with my tears.   I hope that all of our dreams come true, so that we can both look back at our conversations and be proud of the struggles we’ve both been through, because it turned us into hardworking independent women. 

Denise:  I still can’t believe we met because of a Quinceañera!  You’re the only one who truly lived my greaser days with me (still seems like a blur sometimes).  Thanks for staying in my life, for being my workout buddy when I was in LA, and for making time for me every time I’m home.  I know that you’ve gone through a lot in the past couple of years that I’ve been gone, and I’m sorry that I haven’t been there to try to take you out and distract you.  Know that I adore you and that regardless of the fact that we don’t keep in touch as often as I’d like to, I’ll always be here for you.

Djanet:  You always were more than a boss to me, and like I’ve told you before, I consider you to be my other grandma.  Thanks for all the conversations in your room and for letting me work for you for so many years.  I know that you would let me work so much because you knew I needed the money and you wanted to help in some way.  You’re honestly part of the reason I was able to travel so much and the reason I was able to save a bit before moving to Rome.   I wish I could bring you with me to Italy so we can both visit Pompeii together, because I know how much you want to see it. The day I finally go, I’ll be thinking about you the entire time.  I love you!

Wendy: We don’t always agree on everything, but regardless of ALL the arguments we’ve had, I love you so fucking much it hurts.  Thanks for taking me to my first bar, for covering for me so many times when I was younger, and for being a big part of my growing-up years.  Thanks for being my work buddy and making work not feel like work. Sometimes I think I’ve spent more time with you than I have with Brandy and Ivette, and that’s why I think of you as another one of my sisters.  I’m so happy that you brought baby P into our lives, and I’m so sorry that I’m not there to be her favorite aunt.  I seriously always imagined myself being the favorite aunt of all your children, because what the hell, I’d be the best aunt any kid could ask for.  Keep sending me snaps of P because it makes me sad that she’s growing and I’m missing it all.  Also, show her pics of me so she knows I exist.

Jacob & Cesar:  Jacob, thanks for always wanting to hang out with me since you were younger. You drove me crazy sometimes but I still loved you like a little brother and wished so many times that we were closer in age so that we could go get drinks together!  Cesar, I know you were always a bit far away but thanks for always keeping in touch and making time to hang out with all of the family while you were in town, it felt as if you never left.

Blanca:  I know it’s been a few years since you’ve been gone, but your death had such a huge impact in my life that I still think about you every day, and I admit that sometimes I forget that you’re not with us anymore.  It was the first time that someone who I saw regularly died so suddenly, and it hit me so hard that I just couldn’t understand how someone could be gone from one day to the next. It shouldn’t have been your death to make many of us realize that we had to live life to the fullest because death is so unexpected, but it was.  Thank you for being a great friend and coworker, for making memories with me before you passed, and for infecting us all with your contagious laughter.  I wish you were still around to come visit me in Italy.  I confess I wanted to wear your blue dress on my graduation so that in a stupid and cheesy way you could also get your graduation, but damn it you were a skinny-mini and I just couldn’t lose the extra 10 pounds to put that damn zipper up.  I’ll try for another special occasion!

Jessa: I’ve told you before but I’ll say it again, we were meant to meet in that Italian class! You’re the only reason I found out about The American University of Rome and the reason why my life changed for the better.  Thank you for everything, thank you for all of the good times both here in Rome and in LA, and for being the one person I knew when I moved here.  It made me feel more at ease knowing that I had at least one person that I knew in the foreign country I now call home.  My favorite memory of us will forever be that weekend in Rimini, wearing pink wigs and dancing till 6 A.M.  I’m so proud of you and I hope that some day I can go visit you in Macedonia so you can show me what life is like being in the Peace Corps.

Tío Javier & Tía Linda: First of all, Tía, I still can’t get my hair cut by someone else in Italy, so I keep cutting it myself, ruining it, and having to have a friend fix it. I wish I could fly back to LA every time I need a trim because I don’t trust anyone else but you.  To both of you, thank you for constantly inviting us over for dinner and thank you for making time for me when I’m in LA. I hope that if I stay in Italy, you both can come and visit me – they have slot machines here on every corner!

Chrystal and Steph:  I still remember babysitting you girls when we were all younger and I can’t believe you’re all grown up now.  I’m so proud of both of you for becoming such studious and hardworking girls! Thank you for always putting a smile on my face and making me laugh so much every time we hang out.  Sometimes I feel like I’m your same age, but I don’t care because that’s what makes me feel closer to you girls.  I love you both and wish you all the great things in life.

Javi & Elaine: I’m so glad you guys got married because you make a great couple AND both of you together make any gathering a fun one.  I keep having dreams where all of the cousins are visiting me here in Italy and I hope that if I stay here you can come visit me in the future.  Thanks for making time for me every time I’m back home! I can’t wait to meet your baby when I go back.  I wish you both all the best!

Rome:  When I moved here I was convinced I was already the most independent person, then I quickly realized that I had so much more to learn about independence.  I had to learn to make decisions completely on my own, to get out of my comfort zone, speak a new language, and immerse myself in the Italian culture.  Thank you for changing me for the better, for being the place where I’ve met some of the most important people in my life, and for teaching me to not be afraid to ask people for help when things get tough.  I’ve fallen completely in love with you, and even though I’d like to live here forever, I have to decide if this is the place I should be.  IF I have to leave you, I promise I’ll come back someday, next time hopefully to stay!

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