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2014 in Snapshots

In my post ‘2014 Had a Mind of Its Own‘, I mentioned how hard it was for me to make myself sit down and reflect on the year. A lot of things happened that I would rather not remember, but so many amazing opportunities, experiences, and friendships were made this year and it would be really unfortunate to lose those memories.

So, here is a recap of my year in photos. The good, the bad, the worse…the amazing. It wasn’t all great, but the parts that were were really great. I hope you all had wonderful years as well, even if it takes a little more effort to realize that they were.

20150118-114837.jpgJanuary 2014

The month of January was spent preparing to leave for my second semester abroad, this time in Florence, Italy. When I arrived, I was completely overwhelmed by the beauty of Firenze. My daily walk to class had me passing the Duomo, and I don’t think I’ll ever have a prettier commute.

February

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February had me reunited with my long distance boyfriend for the first time in 7 months. I spent Valentine’s Day in Verona, touring Juliet’s balcony and touching her brass boob, writing her a letter like Amanda Seyfried in that one movie and even getting to respond to a letter as ‘Giulietta’! Verona is beautiful but quite small, so it was great to visit during their ‘Verona in Love’ celebration. There were booths of chocolate hearts, they made it rain heart confetti, and there was even a 60-second kiss-fest at the end of the night. Not sure why, but it was slightly disturbing.

March

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In March, my dreams came true as I packed up for spring break in London and Paris. Big Ben, the royal palace, fish and chips, and the Harry Potter studio tour were among the highlights. Also, getting to shop at Boots and Primark for the first time and going absolutely crazy buying Bourgeois cosmetics. Notting Hill was another highlight, the houses looked like pastel peeps and I wanted to eat them up. (Sidenote: This photo was taken the day I literally ran into a classmate from high school…small world?!)

20150118-115141.jpgParis was cold and rainy but classically lovely. I think every American girl’s dream is to walk the streets of Paris with her French boyfriend, so Paris will probably always remain a wildly blown out of proportion rosy memory. Eating escargot, frog legs, macaroons and Nutella crepes will always be fond memories, as will climbing the Eiffel Tower and visiting the Louvre.

20150118-115337.jpgApril-May

April and May were tough months for me. While I was traveling to Venice, Vatican City, Rome, Capri, and Barcelona, building memories and friendships and exploring parts of the world I had dreamed of visiting, I was hurting emotionally.

Family illness, our family dog passing, and a not-so-amicable breakup really burdened me emotionally, because although I knew I needed to enjoy my experiences now since I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to go back again, I also knew I needed a chance to properly grieve, cope, and just be sad.
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I really pushed myself to have fun, but it felt really forced by the end. I still traveled, ate gelato with my girlfriends, went drinking with my girlfriends, drank more with my girlfriends…but there was a part of me, by the end, that was ready to go home. I didn’t want to leave, but there was a lot that I needed to deal with. And I needed to go home to be able to deal with it.

June-August20150118-115240.jpg

I flew back home from Italy to the states on a doubly sombre note. I was sad to leave Italy without any real closure, and I was flying back home to prepare for a funeral. I spent the summer by the lake.

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The summer was rough. I didn’t deal with anything, didn’t even push it out of my mind. I just grew sad, then angry.

I watched summer lightning storms on the front lawn, looking up at the cracks in the sky, the loud booms, and the rain that trickled slowly, then spilled all at once.

20150118-115426.jpgSeptember-October

I met someone new.

Back in California for my last year of college, things started to feel better. Living in a new apartment, with new friends from my Italian study abroad, and a newfound love for the southwest made me feel hopeful.

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I spent my time studying, working, and taking the Pacific Surfliner down the west coast to spend time with a new guy. I began to cope with the things I thought I would never get over, and I finally learned that when something ends, you can’t look at it as an end.

It’s a fresh start. And that is a necessity for growth.

20150118-115628.jpgNovember

I began to feel nostalgic about graduating. With only one class left to go in the spring semester, it really felt like I was done. I spent three years resisting liking California only to realize at the end…I don’t want to leave.

December

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December brought me home to the Pacific Northwest, once again. Home for the holidays, home for the winter. And it feels good; the fresh, crisp, chilly air, the nature, the falls, the mountains, the wind, the endless rain. When I first landed into the airport, I was depressed. The oppressive clouds and forever dark skies of the long winter months felt suffocating. But now that I’ve been back for about a month, I realize how much I needed to be here, now. Not like when I was back in the summer, being sad, shut off from everything. But now that I’m healthy again, really able to open my eyes and appreciate where I am, it feels good to be home.

Last Words on 2014

2014 was a real struggle, but I can already see who I was in January 2014 in comparison to who I am now, a year later, and I like what I see. I left home, left the states, traveled Europe, made close friendships, fell in love, got my heart broken, fell out of love, lost an important person, lost another important person person, met someone new, stopped being sad, made a new home, reclaimed my passion, and found my way home again.

My year was truly amazing, one of the most memorable years I’ve ever had, and I want to thank everyone who made an appearance in it. I know this post is a little late, but I figure any time is a good time to reflect.

So thanks for reading and coming along with me on this journey. I appreciate everyone who is currently supporting me in this space.

Ciao,

Ashley

 

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