30 November 2015


**I wrote this in the wee hours the morning after my birthday and just decided to publish

November 25th, it’s our time again. 
Last year, I was in an airport with a layover to kill and a computer on my hands, so I decided to write about life since that seems to be a thing I do about once a year. I’m not entirely sure why that is; perhaps I should be studied. Actually, scratch that because that sounds incredibly boring. 


As stated last year, I like to look at birthdays as a personal New Year’s. Take stock. Reflect. Move forward. 
Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.

As I was driving to my family on my birthday evening tonight, I got to thinking about where I was last year on this day, and like dominoes, I went back further and further. So, since the memories are completely different, I thought it might be fun to look back 10 years, 5 years, and last year. It’s the wee hours of the morning after my birthday; I am currently crashing in my kid sister’s bed since she is away at our grandmother’s house, and the New Order is quietly playing through my speakers, pressing me on. So, let’s go there, ok?

Jordan, age 21. Ten years ago 2005
Ten years ago, I was celebrating my birthday in Germany. GERMANY for my 21st birthday. Not the worst idea I’ve ever had. I was studying abroad at the time at Reading University in Reading, England (pronounced “red-ding) and had the opportunity to fly cheaply to Berlin. I decided to get away for my birthday and visit my sweet friend, Caroline. She was a German exchange student at my high school, and we got along famously. So famously, in fact, that I had already been to Germany to visit her my junior year of high school after working as a waitress and saving my money to buy a ticket. My parents let me buy a ticket and fly to Berlin, alone, after Christmas and stay until after New Years. I was already in love with traveling by age 17, but that trip definitely sealed my fate of wanderlust. But this is about 21-year-old Jordan, not 17-year-old Jordan. Anyway, I flew to Berlin the 24th and woke up to snow on my birthday the 25th. Another great reason I had for traveling to Germany to visit Caro is that she and I share the same birthday, only she is one year older. We visited her family in Dessau, and I ate the best schnitzel of my life by the hands of her grandmother at lunchtime. We traveled on to Leipzig, where she was living and studying and later met up with some of her friends at a bar that was nothing but beds. Growing up in a dry county, I was completely out of my comfort zone but rest assured, any Irish descent I have rang true that night. Even the Germans were a little impressed that my first night of drinking went so smoothly and no hangover the next morning, so I’m counting it as a win. 
 Rachel and Jessica
 I can't stop laughing at this
 My sweet friend from Kanakuk, Aileen, came to visit. She was also studying in England.
 Please note the disc man. 
 future roommate 
 on our way to a play in London
 Jack, one of our favorites
 wee little baby gents
 my friend, Lane and I went to a concert in London
 the lovely JCR took us to Windsor for a day of fun
 Jonny boy.
 The front door to our dorm, Wantage Hall
 who knows?
The Englishmen 

21-year-old favorites:
Music: Death Cab for Cutie (their album Plans came out right before I left for England, so it became part of my soundtrack to England), The Postal Service, Copeland, The Decemberists, Jack Johnson, Eisley,The Strokes, Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday, Jeff Buckley, and Modest Mouse. 

Clothing: I had no idea how my time in England would shape my style and identity (Right before I left for England, I did something that shocked a lot of people, even myself; I chopped off my hair and dyed the bottom of it fire-engine red). I guess I was always “trendy,” but I didn’t have my own sense of style. I was the queen of mall stores with a little bit of thrift thrown in for “edge.” England opened my eyes to creative expression being something I put on my body. I am very thankful for it. I bought my first pair of skinny jeans in England. They wouldn’t come to the states for another five months or so, so I looked a bit looney when I got back to my university in something aside from boot cut jeans. The girls who were studying abroad with me and I fell in love with Primark, and it became a regular routine for us because not only were we broke college students, but we were international college students whose dollar sucked in comparison to the pound. So, Primark became the place we flocked to because everything was so inexpensive. We would go to pricey stores, scope out something we liked and then go to Primark to recreate it. Praise hands forever.

Friends: Sure, I had plenty of friends back home but the friends I made at this time shaped me and molded me into who I am today. Stephen, Jonny, Jessica, and Rachel were people I knew(ish) from Ouachita, but this trip created a sweet family from a mostly acquaintance-based group of students. We were all placed in the housing of Wantage Hall, Jonny was even my next door neighbor. Honestly, this season in life holds some of my most prized memories. We traveled and explored (without smart phones or any phones) together. We figured things out together. We spent most of our time as a unit. We then branched out and made friends with natives: the whole JCR for Wantage Hall (sort of the British version of RAs), as well as our sweet friends Leon and Jack who all became so near and dear to us. 

Major things: Travel, obviously. I made a promise to myself when I was 14, after having traveled to England, that I would live in England in some capacity, and I felt incredibly lucky to study in Reading. I’m so glad this hasn’t changed. This was also the last time I would travel with my dad. Such a special trip!
I also loved coffee shops with my college sweetheart, Chris. He was main interest of mine for the whole of my 21st year, honestly.
I loved movies and live music at this time and actually caught a Johnathan Rice concert while I was in England. Being friends with Jonny and Stephen while I was in England really struck a love for the art of films, not just their entertainment value.
I also loved my summers working at Kanakuk. 

Jordan, age 26. Five years ago. 2010
Five years ago, I actually spent my time at my parents’  home because my birthday fell on Thanksgiving Day. One major thing that happened in the five years from my 21st was that my father was killed in a car accident, and my mother remarried. My mom sold the house I grew up in, the one my dad built, to my sister and brother-in-law. So the house I went to for my birthday was their new house they had bought and moved in just a few months before my birthday. It was a fresh start, which was pretty resonating with me because I, too, was in the process of new start. I was in my third year of teaching, but I was teaching at a new school this year. I’d left Crossett for Benton and was entirely over my head, but it was fantastic. I was living in an apartment that I paid too much for, but I was loving my life. I was also, however, trying to understand and deal with a disease I had been diagnosed with almost 7 months before: Type 1 Diabetes. The day of my birthday, my brother woke me up by making breakfast. I had loads of family time, thanksgiving at my grandmother’s, and rounded the night out with making hot chocolate for my family while we played games. All-in-all a great, relaxing birthday. 

26-year-old favorites:
Music: Sufjan Stevens. (My best friend, Laura and I actually got to go see him at SMU the month before my birthday. It was a birthday gift I gave myself). Lykke Li, Loney, Dear, Joanna Newsom, MGMT, Billie Holiday, Matthew and the Atlas, Cults, Adele, Stars, Amy Winehouse, Andrew Bird, Her Space Holiday,

Clothing: by this point, I had honed my clothing style into something that made me feel comfortable in my skin. Not only had I honed my style but more importantly, I had owned it, much to the chagrin of my mother. haha I did feel like I was in new territory. Living in Crossett, I was always kind of labeled the lady with the crazy style,and I guess I thought it would be different in Benton…but no. haha My style was still a little “out there” for most. I guess the best part of this age was the fact that I felt unapologetic about how I dressed when before, I think I lacked that confidence in a way. This was also the year that “leopard became a neutral” in my mind. I never really cared for it before. 

Friends: As previously stated, Laura was my best friend. She wasn’t even in my life at 21, which is crazy how fast relationships grow. Laur and I saw and have seen one another through a lot of difficult things and this year was one of those, for sure. She has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know, and I was so glad I was able to live so close to her.
This year I was able to be around friends I hadn’t been around in years due to my living in the middle of nowhere in Crossett, so that was great being able to reconnect with great friends I had in college. One person who I was SO excited to not only reconnect with but also work with was my friend Leah, who was a great friend I had in college. She had reconnected with her friend Billy, who was a friend of hers from college, and he had a friend Tom. The four of us would meet in Little Rock on Sunday nights after church and became what was later dubbed “Sunday night family.” Those were some of the most fun nights I can remember. We drove over an hour for sweet potato fries. We went to baseball games and scary houses. It was so fun to be able to DO things after living in the middle of nowhere. 
This year, I also met Julie, who I worked with(still do). She attracted me with her smart, independent, savvy demeanor. I wasn’t aware she would grow to become the older sister I always longed for, growing up. She would become one of the most important friendships I’ve ever had. 

Major things: I hadn’t traveled much this year, mainly due to lack of funds. But, it was always on my mind where I would go next. Actually I didn’t know it yet but in a few months, my sister Jade and I would take my brother Callahan to NYC for his graduation celebration. 
My nephew Elliot arrived four months before my birthday and completely changed my ideas on love at first sight. He’s been my favorite man ever since.
I was not only teaching a new grade level but a new area content area, as well. 
I taught zumba a lot, after getting certified the year before. I was teaching at a church in Little Rock two nights a week, as well as a gym and at my school after school. Lots of being active but it wore on me greatly. One of my favorite times of teaching zumba was that Laura would come to Little Rock to take my class, even though she lived in Conway. We would meet up at Starbucks on Broadway and stay late, talking and catching up. Those nights of just coffee and Laura and leisurely talks were one of my favorite parts of this year.
Later this year, I bought my first house and dubbed it "The Pearl." It is an old house full of character, complete with at tiled matador. I bought it completely alone and sitting by myself at the table signing papers was one of the scariest and most badass moments of my life. 
 Rachel took my zumba class in Little Rock :)
 When Laura and I saw Sufjan in Dallas.
 All the zumba things
 I went fishing with my students on a field trip. 
Pretty sure this was the last day of school.
 Sunday Night Family with Tom, Leah, and Billy
 Laura and I took a best friend shoot in Pine Bluff of all places. 
My overpriced apartment that I made as colorful as possible
My favorite man, Elliot Patrick.

My favorite tattoo, in honor of my father

The Pearl. My Pearl.

Jordan, Age 30. One year ago. 2014
I spent my 30th birthday, and the few days before, in Denver with my friends Karissa and Lauren. The month before, I separated from/left my husband and was obviously in an emotional and weird state in life. Some people deal with difficult things with alcohol or meds or “getting even.” I deal with it by traveling, so Denver was a great answer. We had the best time, and I fell in love with Denver. They were both living in Denver with their husbands, and I had a ticket I needed to use and part of my Thanksgiving break. On my birthday, I woke up in Karissa’s apartment curing a hangover due to a night of Illegal Pete’s, complete with margaritas, with her and our friend Jill the night before. After a few days together, Karissa, her husband, and his family were going to a different part of Colorado that morning, and I met up with Lauren for Voodoo Donuts and coffee before flying back to Arkansas. It was a great morning, to round out a great few days. After flying and having a layover in Dallas, I made it home to Little Rock, where Julie was going to pick me up. She surprised me with my friend Katy and the two of them took me out for my birthday for drinks and avocado egg rolls. It was such a wonderful surprise and as we were drinking, Katy read me a toast she had for me and crying on my birthday was much nicer than it sounds. I entered my 30’s having never felt so loved in my life. 

30-year-old favorites:
Music: Beyonce (duh), Sia, Dolly Parton, Lana Del Ray, Daughter, Iron + Wine, Sufjan Stevens, The xx, Miike Snow, Smashing Pumpkins, Hozier, Andrew Bird, The Cranberries, Matt Corby, and Dixie Chicks

Clothing: After separating from Heath, I felt like I was in a huge transition phase because for the first time in a while, I felt like I could wear whatever I wanted without having someone criticize me—which was amazing! This year I learned a lot about “investment pieces” vs. things that are inexpensive. Things weren’t much different than age 26. 

Friends: I still had many of the friends from age 26, though many of them were all over the country.
Laura was now married with a little girl. Major life changes for her. :) 
With many friends at school and otherwise, I felt a great network of people behind me in this great, weird year. 
Jules helped me so much with understanding myself through this crazy ordeal. Divorce isn’t for the faint of heart, and having her in my corner was a saving grace. 

Major things: I was lucky to get to travel soooooo much this year. I started with Denver, the next month Jules and I went to NYC, I flew to Chicago to visit my friend Katie, in February I went to Portland solo over Valentines Day, in March I flew to Italy and traveled all over the country, and in June I set off on a seven-country trip over Europe which included Switzerland, which had always been a dream of mine. 
I adopted two sibling puppies and fell head over heels for Winnie and Huck. In April, Huck had a fluke thing happen and got an infection that was too far gone to stop. I had to put him down and that was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do alone. It devastated Winnie and me, and I knew I wanted to get another dog as soon as I could. When I returned from my big trip overseas in June, I adopted Holland from the Humane Society in Benton. He and Winnie love one another, and I am so thankful she has a brother. 
I felt so empowered this year on my own. It was amazing and refreshing, and I realized my worth. I took stock of my life and realized that I have a lot of things I want to do. And if I do them alone, that’s fine. Taking a train across India WILL happen one day.
Oh, and I pierced my nose. 
 the morning of my 30th with Lauren
 adopting bebe Holland
 Donut Plant, NYC with Jules
 Red Rocks with Karissa
 a gas station in Italy
 30th birthday breakfast
 My friend Katie and the Bean
 The Roman Forum
 Illegal Pete's the night before my 30th with Karissa
 Red Rocks

 The 30th birthday party at the airport :)
 Lauren, Laura, and their mini-me's
 My sweet Huckleberry friend
 The Colosseum 
 Sweet Wins
 My first babes: Winnie and Huck
 Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland
 Getting ready for a new school year
the ongoing struggle

Jordan, Age 31, Now. 2015
Today I spent most of my birthday in bed. By myself. And you know what, it was fabulous. Clean, white sheets. A fan blowing softly. I slept in like no one’s business. Then I leisurely got myself together. A hot bath. Collecting clothes for my trip to Searcy to see my family. Music playing. Awkward dancing. The works. For breakfast, I ate kolaches that I bought in West, Texas yesterday at Czech Stop. Oh my, they were worth the wait and self-control. I loaded my dogs and a few belongings up and started for Searcy, stopping at Starbucks for my birthday reward. I saw three of my favorite people there and continued driving up to my family. Upon arrival, I promptly helped my mother peel potatoes for our family meal. Family was gathering at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. They filtered in and I stayed mostly in the living room with my siblings. We laughed and caught up. After eating, I played with my sister’s hair, like a slumber party. We had those great big belly laughs and even tried our hand at using a selfie stick. After family left, the immediate stayed and they gave me gifts. It was sweet and slow and made me wish I lived much closer. I kissed my family goodnight and now here I am: 3am on Thanksgiving morning. Writing. I can’t seem to sleep. I think I’m a little drunk on love. 

...will continue.