21st & T Swift

A year ago, 20 made me reflect on time and how I would qualify mine thus far. My conclusion was that I had withstood and come to understand some of the more difficult concepts of growing up, and that 20 was the year of finding opportunity and stability. The transition to 21 has only proved that I am still working on those things–but I’ll get into that in posts soon to come!

For now, I want to reflect on how amazing my actual 21st birthday was. Not because of drinks or bars, but because of people and experiences I will have to remember in all the years to come.

On June 1st, my day of birth, I saw Taylor Swift at Soldier Field. The fact that I got to attend her first night in Chicago on her Reputation Stadium Tour is a huge deal to me for a lot of personal reasons. For one, the obvious: I got to spend my birthday (of all days) dancing and singing every single (genius) lyric with 52,000 other people just as excited and passionate and present, ready to appreciate every moment of Taylor’s time that we were able to share celebrating music that hits home to all of us for different reasons.

It’s been five years since I’ve done that, since The Red Tour, where I watched my two all-time favorite artists, Taylor (obviously) and Ed Sheeran, play at Ford Field (with my momma) on 5-4-13. Almost exactly a year later, on 5-3-14, I went on my first date with my boyfriend (I wholeheartedly believe in the magic of 13s). Another year later, I bought him and myself floor seats to The 1989 World Tour at Soldier Field. I was very excited to introduce two of my best friends: the young man who was teaching me what love was (through an ldr, no less), and the woman whose own experiences had gotten me through my own since I was ten. Instead of this magical night happening as planned, in an awful turn of events, the former, my (nineteen y.o.) boyfriend suddenly suffered heart failure caused by myocarditis (a pretty rare condition where your heart muscle becomes inflamed). Despite my sweetheart of a bf boldly telling his doctor that he had plans the following weekend, we did not attend that concert (and he’s since made a full recovery).

So after all of that, and then Taylor’s hiatus where most of us worried she’d finally chosen her rose garden over Madison Square, Reputation came out. I felt reconnected with my childhood hero, and I saw an opportunity to finally bridge the connection between JT and Taylor when the tour was announced.

I could write a separate review of the concert experience itself (and maybe I will), but really, all you need to know (if you somehow don’t) is that T Swift Puts. On. A. Show. It is an event. There were fireworks and giant, moving snakes, and there was the acoustic version of Dancing With Our Hands Tied and the mash-up of New Years Day and Long Live– It was emotional and positive and interactive. The kind of genuine experience where all you feel is happy to be alive and so invested in enjoying this moment that you completely forget any negative feelings, like self-consciousness over how tone deaf you are, and sing at the top of your lungs.

The best part was that I got to lose myself in this magical moment while holding hands with my best friend and dance partner, the guy who’s been patient and loyal and loving to me for over four years now. The guy who bought me the green Reputation t-shirt to use as a blanket because Soldier Field, on a windy, sixty degree day, was too cold for the halter-top romper I insisted on wearing. The guy who also pinned on the sash that said “Finally Twenty-One,” and took me to get my first legal drink.

We met up after the concert with a small group of my friends at the same bar that we had celebrated his 21st in. I sipped my drink and smiled at the people chattering amongst themselves, in another moment of feeling nothing but love and realizing that there was nowhere else I would rather be.

Writer’s Block

I DID NOT plan to lose my voice in Paris. I don’t mean my physical voice (though there were moments when a cough threatened to overtake my roommate and me). I mean the voice that is coming through right now, my writing voice. Literally, the most important thing that I have. My go-to form of communication and expression and processing. If you’re not a writer or an avid reader, maybe this is something you’ve never thought about before, but just like everyone has a unique way of sounding like themselves while talking, every writer has a way of sounding like themselves on the page. My voice may be slightly different when I am typing a personal essay versus this blog post here, or an entry in my writing journal versus my personal journal, or even a tweet compared to any of my other methods, but they all sound like me.

I’ve mentioned my Paris journal repeatedly, as well as shared a couple entries from it; we had to write at least two a day. I have been practicing journal keeping for most of my life, but more seriously for the last two years. I am proud of my current writing journal, it is where I let ideas take form before I share them here or use the seeds I’ve planted in other work. It sounds like the writer I am growing to be, like the writer I want to be, and it takes practice to do that. My journal’s sophistication vastly outweighs that of any of its predecessors; it shows what I’ve learned and honed in my last three years of writing workshops, in the most casual and intimate way.

Last summer, while walking through a tourist shop in Fishtown (Leland, MI), I came upon a beautiful notebook. The cover had an illustration of a mermaid with a blue-scaled tail, accompanied by the Anais Nin quote, “I must be a mermaid because I have no fear of depths and a great fear of living a shallow life.” I loved it. More illustrations and quotes were on every few pages. As I held it in my hands, I decided it would be my Paris journal. I was sure I could fill the pages that were inspiring me with more words I could be proud of.

I wrote a detailed take on my first readings of Hemingway before our trip on the first few pages, on Christmas Eve–off to a good start. I didn’t pick it up again until our second day in Paris, and I found that nothing I had to say seemed worthy of writing down, nothing held the same level of reflection or insight or hint of my personality or craft ability. I am sure that my writer’s block came from stress and discomfort and sensory overload, among other things. I am also sure that feeling all of those things, in PARIS for crying out loud, made my frustration worse.

Eventually, I found my voice again. I realized later that it was because I was forced to keep at it, making myself dig for something to write every day about the trip and about the discussions we were having in our workshop. Every time I returned to the page, I got a little closer to sounding like myself. I stopped letting outside forces intimidate me; I stopped half-heartedly participating. I had to be present, in my body, drawing on my previous experiences and challenging myself to grow.

Getting out of my writer’s block was not a miracle; I made it happen through writing when I was most unsure of what I was putting on the page. I’m not sure I could’ve learned a more valuable lesson than that as a young writer.

Unexpected Lessons From Abroad

In my previous posts, I’ve mentioned that Paris gave me a lot—a lot to think about, to write about, to be happy or humble or appreciative of. The commonality between each of the things I feel like I gained from my trip is that I didn’t expect them. Or, rather, all of my expectations were far exceeded in the City of Lights.

Friends ~

I hoped to make friends; I did not expect to meet people that I know would do virtually anything for me. I did not expect to know that after a week of knowing them. That is huge, that will never not be huge, and even if we don’t talk or spend as much time together now as we did in those whirlwind two weeks, I know that we’ll always have Paris, and because of that, I will always have them if I need them. I see so much beauty and potential in all of them, for individual reasons, and I felt that reflected back to me. That support is everything, the feeling of it can’t be diminished, even over time and distance.

(Not) Writing ~

I planned to write things that I am proud of; looking back now, I realize that I did. But in bits and pieces that mostly came together in the end, because I learned that even when you travel to a magical foreign city, TO WRITE, you can somehow find yourself with a case of writer’s block (see my next post all about this biggest pain in my butt, I mean lesson).

Self-Love ~

As I wrote before I started my international trip, I intended my travel to be full of self-love. I wanted to allow myself to enjoy all the new experiences I was having, but to take the best care of myself that I could so that I could minimize any other negative feelings or experiences. That’s a lot to ask of yourself in a completely foreign place, where you have no established routine, no recognizable situations of anxiety or overwhelm because each situation is new.

So, no, I didn’t always take the best care of myself that I could, despite my best attempts. This lead to slight illnesses, embarrassing mistakes, and experiences that I can only learn from. The unexpected lesson being: you have to love yourself even more when you mess up. It does no good to berate yourself internally when you are travelling. You may be surrounded by amazing new people who will do what they can to make you feel better, but ultimately, it’s up to you to brush off what you’re upset at or not proud of. It’s the only thing that will allow you to take the lesson and move forward. When you’re limited on time, this is especially crucial; you don’t want to spend a few days down on yourself when you could be out, letting yourself live your best life in a beautiful new place.

Accepting My Limits ~

Before Paris, I had a mental image of museum hopping and going out every single night. Basically, being much busier and much more extroverted than I am in my daily life. However, very quickly upon getting there, I surprised myself; I accepted that I could not do everything. We had two pieces of writing, plus a typed assignment, and often upwards of 50 pages of reading due each day. So, with studying alone, I had A LOT going on. That isn’t to say I didn’t explore Paris. I think everything that I managed to do – multiple city tours, two trips to Montmartre, thrift shopping all over the city, browsing Parisian book stores, a visit to the Louvre, a trip to Versaille, seeing the Eiffel Tower and going on a sunset boat cruise on the Seine, hitting three Parisian bars in one night, going to a jazz club, finding my own way to the Pantheon, and many fabulous meals and glasses of wine in cute cafes – was not too shabby for my first time in Paris.

Yes, I could’ve done more. A constant question I’m asked is if I went up in the Eiffel Tower. My answer has surprised and disappointed many; no, I didn’t. I intended to, to visit it a second time, to be more dressed up and to take in the spectacular view of Paris from the Tower itself. It didn’t pan out; only one other opportunity outside of my group’s first excursion presented itself, and that day, I needed to focus on that self-care stuff I was talking about. Maybe that doesn’t explain it well enough, but this time around, I was happy just to see it. It felt like enough to know that it was there, to be staring at it from the gray marbled steps first, and later, from the riverbank. I saw it against Paris’ beautiful, dreary, blue afternoon sky, and I watched it glitter in flashes of gold at exactly 6 pm against the blanket of navy that had crept over the city.

I was content in knowing that I would be there again someday, and we could get to know each other better then. Maybe that’s the real lesson from all of this; I know myself better now, after my first time in Paris.

Heading Home, Finding Direction

Last departure thoughts, 1-19-18:

Leaving Paris before sunrise feels disrespectful, like a lover stealing away in the night. I tried to take in my last glimpses of the city through our shuttle windows, but everything was still horribly out of context. Paris is far too large and old to have figured out in two and a half weeks. She’s too complicated, and claiming less is an insult.

I am happy to be headed home, to my own bed for the first time in almost a month, to my best friend, to my boyfriend, and to my family. I am excited to hear American English, to not feel my harsh Midwestern voice so out of place. To be back in control; yes, I have been able to wander this beautiful, foreign city alone, but I haven’t felt confident or knowledgeable. I am out of my familiar, and I’m feeling exhausted because of it. I want to rest, I want to organize, I want to take charge of my life again.

Rediscovering this journal now, a month later, is so fitting. I’ve been swept up by the spring semester, and I am still striving to feel that sense of control, even back in my familiar at home. My trip happened so quickly, it was hard to put into words at first, or to know if I had written any that I felt were worth sharing. This past month has given me enough time to try to put this into perspective, and I think evaluating what I gained, what I learned, during my travels just may be the key to unlocking a new sense balance and a positive attitude for the future.

Stay tuned for the reflection(s) to come!

Our Last (Parisian) Day

I journaled this a month ago today, on our last full day in Paris:

There was so much beauty in the ending, in our last vividly matte, gray, rainy day of Paris. There was no longer the stress of class weighing on the back of my mind; I could finally appreciate all the wrought iron terraces and intricate cement or stone buildings for more than the few seconds I was able to ward off thoughts of, “What’s next?”

After two a and a half weeks, I finally felt comfortable. Using the Metro, hearing their weird sirens, being a little more cautious with my belongings in public. I had just started to wander on my own, finding the Pantheon on our last Sunday. I think if we’d stayed longer, maybe another week or two, I might’ve gotten confident enough to use the French that I know, rather than only using the standard, “merci,” and “pardon,” or “au revoir,” and “bonjour.”

We—a small group of the classmates that turned into great friends—finally spent the day shopping. I got a new jacket and a scarf, and found gifts for my brother and boyfriend. I used my phone’s data without reserve, calling my mom from the store, feeling so relieved when she picked up and weighed in her opinions on my purchases. I tried Paris’ acclaimed (read: ridiculously good) hot chocolate, and I even found a gluten free bakery, completely by accident (I had a chocolate eclair).

Our final dinner, at Chez Bebert, was full of more laughter and wine (as our whole trip has been), and none of the self-consciousness that I felt during our arrival dinner. I realized during our last supper that while Paris has given me a lot, the people I have gotten to know are easily my most treasured souvenir (read: I love these people so much).

There will be more to come from my Paris journal!

(Also, the photo is from the first night, as it’s probably the best whole-group shot.)

Awaiting Departure

Written yesterday, 12-26-17:

For the first time, I am traveling this holiday season. My first destination is Frankfurt, where I’ll stay with my older brother, get a taste of Germany in the winter, and ring in the New Year. My second travel destination is Paris, for a short study abroad trip, where I will get to read and write in Hemingway’s old haunts.

Because of this impending trip, the last few days, weeks really, have been a roller coaster of emotions.

First, there has been stress; I was so worried about planning every detail and then so overwhelmed when I discovered that I physically couldn’t do that AND live in the moments leading up to Christmas with my family—and that was all the time that I had with them.

Then excitement; obviously, I mean, I’m going to Europe! I’ve been once before, when I was seventeen, and I fell in love with Germany in July (who wouldn’t?). So, three years later, it’s finally time to reunite with this particular long distance love, at the opposite time of year, AND get to see Paris for the first time. It sounds like a dream when I simply say where I’m going, let alone when I dive into my plans.

But there was also sadness; I traveled on Christmas, my absolute favorite holiday of the year, leaving my cozy house and actual long-distance boyfriend after only six days together, and then my trip took longer than expected because of a ridiculous Amtrak ordeal (in short, it should NEVER be okay to sell bus tickets as connections to train tickets and then refuse to wait for that connection that YOU SOLD @Amtrak). On my extended bus ride, I was having vivid flashbacks to my freshman year of college; I was experiencing the same kind of loss, the kind that you feel when leaving behind those you want to take with you, knowing you have to in order to get the most out of the amazing experience in front of you.

And anxiety; do I have everything? Will I get everything taken care of before it’s time to leave? Do I have everything on my list? Wait, did I even make a full list? Do I need two coats? Should I have convinced someone to fly with me? Would that have made this less stressful? Also, am I going to get sick, between the airport and my lack of sleep and trying to fit what I can of my usual five-week holiday break into one? How can I be thinking all of these things at once??

Finally, exhaustion; this past semester was easily the most difficult, and I feel like I have yet to totally shake the anxiety and weariness I gained from it. I keep having to remind myself that it’s over, and that I deserve this trip, and most importantly, this entire trip is FOR ME. To rest, to spend time with my brother, and to learn and create in a beautiful, historic location. Trying to triple check every detail of my packing wasn’t helping my mental health; I wasn’t as organized as I would’ve liked and my obsessiveness was only adding extra pressure. In the last few days, I’ve had to do my best to check myself, to say “I don’t need that,” or “I don’t need to worry about it,” and move on to do the things I’ve been meaning to prioritize, things I was forgetting because my brain was too tired and preoccupied.

To that end, I feel better. I’m sitting at my gate in O’hare, two hours early, with everything as taken care of as I can make it. I did not get enough sleep (as my teacher stressed we should), but I never do before important travel or other events. I’m doing my best to self-care in any other ways I can today.

That’s my goal for this entire trip: self-care. I realized in taking the time to write all of this out that I need to make time to do what I value so that I can check in with myself, feel grounded, and grow from there.

Here’s to exploring, engaging, and writing for myself in the New Year. 

Stay tuned for more from my travels abroad!


Travel, My Favorite Balancing Act

I love to travel. I love to plan out all the logistical details; the departure and arrival times, the seasonally appropriate clothes. I love to have something to look forward to for weeks or months; I have a countdown app on my phone that is easily one of my most-used apps. I love the combination of exhaustion and exhilaration from waking up earlier than I ever would by choice; quietly arranging my things so that I don’t wake my roommates and am prepared to move easily from Lyft to train station or airport. I love the pure pleasure of knowing I am about to see people and places that I haven’t seen in awhile – or ever.

My freshman year of college, this excitement to move between physical places played easily into my homesickness, the urge I felt to flee what was new and find refuge in what was familiar as often as possible. It’s kind of a mundane trip from the city that my college is in to the city near my hometown, but I still build each of my weekends at home up in the same way that I would build up a trip more exciting. I check train schedules and arrange other transportation (shoutout to my family and boyfriend) and put together suitcases. The first year it was almost every other weekend. I realized then that I was planning my entire life around these weekends, adjusting my homework schedule, adding more pressure to myself, and not appreciating the days I felt “stuck” in my new, foreign place. The urge to leave outweighed all of that, but that urge has subsided as I’ve made a home here.

It occurred to me last week how much has changed in the past two years. Last Thursday, a week after my first trip home this semester, I woke up in my apartment, relieved I was simply headed to work and not trying to make it to the train station.  The following evening, Friday night, I sat on my couch, homework spread out and tv on, so content that I could relax and focus on what I needed to get done instead of being anxious about the homework that I was putting off on my trip.

To be clear, I still love travel – long weekends at home, visiting other states, soon other countries. I am still completely extra about planning around and planning the trip itself. But I see it in a more honest light now – what I mean is, sometimes, it is nice to stay.


Of course, it is possible to travel and still be in one place long enough that your body adjusts and you feel like you’re stationary. You are able to live in the moment, to occupy the out-of-the-ordinary space, to be.

While I may be realizing the practicality of having a few less of my short, forty-eight hour blurs of trying to squeeze in time with my significant other and my family and catch up on sleep in my full-size bed, I am still happy to have them, and also happy to be planning extended trips. I am looking forward to starting the New Year in Germany and spending the following month in France (more to come on this!).

I am hoping to be, to stay, long enough to breathe in cultures and experiences that I have been admiring and learning about and longing for.


Here’s to finding your own balance of traveling and staying just long enough.

ALL My People

It’s move-in weekend; the bluntest reminder that I have two homes. My definition of home is roughly 4 parts people and 2 parts geography, and I don’t want to write to the idea of being grateful for places (today, anyway). So, to finish a piece I’ve been working on for weeks about the amazing people I have in my life, I want to talk about the wonderful phenomenon of realizing you have more people that you know (or remember) you do.

My two homes include the one I grew up in, and the one I made for myself when I left for college. My first transitional period of leaving one place and claiming another was one of the most difficult and lonely times – at first – but the magic to that drastic change was that it showed me who I had. And, more than that, it gave me new people. It was a time when my world felt uprooted and, consequently, so small that I regularly counted whom I had to go to. Only, I didn’t count everyone. There were people I forgot or was too preoccupied or scared to reach out to.

I have come to acknowledge this miscounting of the army of those I rely on and gain perspective, inspiration, and help from as a bad habit. I’m doing my best to break it.

Thankfully, in the last two years, I’ve made so many friendships. Some last days, some last semesters, and some have lasted from the first day of move-in freshman year and continue to grow stronger. In any case, I’ve appreciated crossing paths. I’ve also tried to strengthen old connections; I’ve realized the value of a coffee date and good conversation or even weekly phone calls with friends who have known me since elementary school. These small efforts show people that they matter to you, and I’m doing my best to do better at that because the crux of my bad habit is focusing too hard on a few and forgetting that I have, like I said, many wonderful people in my life.

The biggest lesson I learned during my rough transition into college was the importance of allowing my two homes to coexist peacefully, to appreciate each for their different qualities. And so, I have to connect that lesson to people, as they are what I think of before physical locations. What I mean is, the phrases ‘my family’ or my ‘best friends’ include people that have never met or lived in the same place or even know what my daily life looks like. And that’s fine – the point is that if I picked up a phone or got on a train or a bus or a plane or needed any kind of advice – from writing to life – someone would be there, someone would answer. It’s my instinct to want to organize and thus quantify how many someone’s I have, but the premise of this entire idea is that I can’t – and that that is the greatest thing The Universe has shown me so far.

Here’s to a great school year of being surrounded and supported (no matter the distance) by those who make you feel like you matter.


(Image from Pinterest.)

Best Self Discovery

I recently read Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. Cheryl’s advice always seemed to, either directly or indirectly, speak to the concept of being your best self, encouraging her advice seekers to be honest and compassionate with themselves and/or those in their lives.

This concept of being your best self, even the simplicity and elegance of the phrase, has stuck with me, causing me to give a lot of thought to what my “best Kristen” would act like. In no particular order, here are the qualities and behaviors I think my best self has (or could have):

Evaluating my own reactions; in other words, not getting angry or upset so easily. Using rationality over emotions more often to avoid unnecessary words or actions.

Letting go of things I don’t need and things that I can’t change; releasing negative emotions like anger, hurt, judgement, fear and other feelings that don’t serve me – only love, positivity, determination, and compassion do.

Having confidence; always feeling comfortable in my own skin, owning my body and knowledge and experience and not being afraid to take up space.

Being productive; doing things that serve me, mainly writing and accomplishing tasks/goals that I have, as well as reading and spending quality time with people I love (not spending so much aimless time app-hopping on my phone).

Also taking time for myself; a bit of unproductive phone time, but mostly healthy, reflective activities like morning walks, workout or yoga sessions, and the above listed activities.

Giving; to be generous with my time and attention and material things, but with healthy boundaries.

Learning; being open and ready to absorb new skills, information, and to meet new people.

These are definitely not the end-all, be-all of “best self” attributes, but the entire process of coming up with this image of my personal best self has been cathartic and motivating. Especially because, while I was in the middle of giving my list thought, I had an appointment with a craniosacral healer, Jamie VanDam. She spoke to me about making clear intentions and being aware of the energy I allowed in as well as the energy I was emitting outward.

Each of these ideas – being my best, setting intentions, being aware of energy – were ones I was familiar with, but not as fully immersed in before I thought of them together after being first inspired by Cheryl Strayed and then through my craniosacral work. I am not saying that you need to read any of Cheryl’s work or to have energy work done on you – though both are wonderful things – but they seemed to be the dominoes that tipped together to help me take a new approach to self-improvement.

I hope you find the things or people that inspire you to reflect (and act) on what does (or could) make you your best self.

Sam Hunt

There is an artist, a singer and songwriter, that has been a part of my three year relationship with my best friend from the very beginning. Last Friday night, in Clarkston (Detroit), Judd and I finally got to see him perform live, and I had a lot of feelings about it. I did my best to put the short version on instagram (@13kristenelizabeth) this past weekend, but I knew I couldn’t resist telling the long version.

I think it was on our very first date in May of 2014 that Judd asked me if I had heard of Sam Hunt. I hadn’t, and I attribute that to the fact that he was an artist in transition from uploading free music to SoundCloud to preparing to release his first studio album, and because it wasn’t exactly common knowledge that he was the writer behind Keith Urban’s “Cop Car” and Billy Currington’s “We Are Tonight.” Judd, however, explained all of this to me, clearly passionate about the music this man made, taking pride in finding this talent before he became mainstream. It didn’t take listening to many of Sam’s songs for me to understand Judd’s enthusiasm, or for me to be impressed with his taste in music, still one of my favorite things about him. To me, that summer is signified by “Leave The Night On”; my favorite thing was to be in the passenger seat of Judd’s truck, listening to him sing along (quite well). A different song, “Take Your Time,” later became “our song” because the concept of it aligned with how we started – without forcing anything, just getting to know each other; the stealing of covers and meeting of each other’s mothers fell into place later.

The difficult thing about falling in love with a new artist, for us anyway, was seeing him live. We tried and failed to our second summer; it was announced that Sam would be performing at our local country music festival (Birthday Bash), so we got tickets and parking passes and shared our increased excitement as the countdown to Birthday Bash slowly ran down. But the second day, the day Sam was supposed to play, was cancelled due to rain and flooding. Since then, we’ve waited for another opportunity, which turned out to be last Friday night for the #15ina30tour. We bought presale tickets, made travel plans, and then spent last week leading up to the show just geeking out because we were finally, after three years, going to see Sam Hunt.

It was everything and more that I hoped it would be. Sam created exactly the kind of atmosphere you want at a concert; bright, but deep, every moment magic and meaningful. Sam was all smiles and dance moves and sweet words, so obviously content onstage and with his life in general right now. He even mentioned that he still feels like he’s on his honeymoon (congrats to him and Hannah Lee; I love their love story).

Anyway, more than briefly mentioning Hannah and his life, he took a portion of the show to give his backstory. I know artists sometimes take time to share personal messages, but I guess I didn’t fully expect, or know how to react to, his down-to-earth, understated, and culturally relevant manner. After taking the time to share his life story, he brought up how our generation is the first to completely grow up with technology, making us the most connected generation yet. In his (adorable) Georgia accent, he said that this ability to connect so well no matter where we come from will lead our generation to break away some of the divisive walls that have been built between people. Then he shrugged and explained that “that’s what’s been on [his] heart lately.”

The elegance of his simple remark to me was that he never once said anything about opinions or beliefs or condemned anybody, he was just pointing out our shared humanity. In his talk of connection, he was connecting in a personal and positive way. To me, his small heart-to-heart shines among my brightest memories from the concert.

After our night at the #15ina30tour, I feel more in awe of the genuine and talented Sam Hunt, and even more in love with the guy who first introduced me to him. The man that has spent the last three years singing his lyrics to me through vibrant, freckled smiles and who held my hand and danced with me the entire night, as carefree as always. As carefree, in fact, as he’s always been and as I have been slowly working towards becoming in the three years I have been lucky enough to have him as a positive force in my life. I like to joke that I’ve been living for the bass drop in “Breakup in a Small Town” since 2014, or that I’ve been living for Sam since then, but really, if I’m going to use that phrase, it would better apply to man that showed me Sam’s music and has been so graciously taking my time. I can’t thank him enough for filling my days with happiness and good music, or for sharing special moments like those we spent with Sam, last Friday night.

Also – I just wanted to note that I was psyched to see Maren Morris too, and both her presence and performance were simultaneously radiant and bad-ass. Chris Jansen was a sweetheart, and Ryan Follese was as nice and down-to-earth as he was that one time I saw Hot Chelle Rae perform (probably the coolest thing I did when I was 13).