19 July 2012

Turning 30...

On 19 July 1982, Kathleen Kelly went into labor and gave birth to the most amazing person, MEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!! 30 years ago today, I entered this world basically only knowing how to cry and shit myself. Now, I still basically do the same thing; I’m just better at it.

Kidding; I don’t really shit my pants (although I have been known to pee the bed; insert joke here:                                   ). Come on, you know you want to. Okay fine, if you don’t want to joke about it yourself, allow me: Read my pissing the bed story here.

As much as I would love to claim I know everything because I’m 30 (which is so old, right?), I really don’t know much. I have learned a lot along the way, but it’s because of the people I have had and who are still in my life that I have learned the most important lessons from.  Without the people in my life or the experiences I’ve had, I would not be the person I am today and if I’m truly honest with myself, I may not even have lived long enough to see 30 (yes, I do make some dumb decisions and have put myself in precarious situations that quite frankly, I’m lucky to have gotten out of).

It’s taken me a long time to become the person I am today, but my favorite trait about myself is complete honesty. Honesty with other people, but mostly honesty with myself about who I am and what I want from life. If I can’t be completely honest with myself and others at the age of 30, then when?  Upon turning 30, I feel the need to reflect on some of my most memorable experiences that shaped me into the person I am and who knows, maybe I've learned and will share a few nuggets of wisdom as well.

I don't remember much from birth to age 4; I mean, anyone who claims they have early memories from those ages is an asshole. But, at age 4, I realized my dad was the coolest man on the planet when he showed up with an old school fire truck and parked it in our backyard. I don't know what reason for this, I just know it happened. My father isn’t the most patient person in the world, but neither am I. I am my father’s daughter, there’s no doubt. But there’s no one else I’d rather be. Good thing he redeemed himself with that fire truck because three years prior (and unbeknownst to me at the time cause I was a toddler), he dressed me up like a clown. Not cool.

By the age of 7, I realized the power of friendship. I also realized the power of jealousy and pettiness. Little girls can be amazing friends, but they can also be powerhouses of bitchiness and if you’re not careful with whom you choose to befriend, you can get burned. 1989 is when I first learned this lesson and I’m glad I learned it while young because it has saved me from a lot of heartache I’m sure. Although I’ve had friends hurt and burn me, thanks to my grade school playground experiences, I had the courage to handle it and move past it.  Most importantly, I learned the value of true friendship at an early age and can actually say that I have kept and nurtured young friendships that I started as a young girl and still have today.

At age 9, I knew I was different than other girls my age. Not necessarily in a "sexual" way, but more in a lifestyle way. I knew when they fawned all over pictures of Jonathan Taylor Thomas in Tiger Beat, I could care less. At this age, I thought it was because I had more important things to do than drool over boys, like ride my bike and do tricks or pick on my sister relentlessly until she cried. It wasn’t until later years I realized the reason I was different was because I felt differently about boys than they did. Boys were my best friends; not future lovers or soul mates. But in 1991, how does a 9 year old girl admit this to herself, let alone to other people? So, naturally I kept it inside and decided I would try being normal over the years to come. Keep in mind, I would never give up being a tomboy or dressing and acting like a boy, but at least I could try to like boys. And eventually, I genuinely ended up falling for a couple boys, not because I was expected to, but because I actually wanted to.

Turning 10 was one of my favorite birthdays for obvious reasons; not only was I 10 (HUGE milestone for a kid), but my parents made it a big deal. My dad borrowed an old school limo from his boss and cruised around town with us and I had all my friends come over because my mom made dirt cake with gummi worms. One of my fondest birthday memories. It’s hard to beat sharing a birthday with your own mom as the best birthday EVER, but over the next coming years, I will have some amazing birthdays. Like my 16th (Dad taught me to drive in reverse and how to parallel park because according to him "any moron can drive forwards". I mastered those two driving techniques and they have paid off. My 21st birthday (for obvious reasons), 24th birthday (huge house party at my house, walked home from the bars naked, and got retarded drunk), and especially my 28th birthday when Emily took me on a romantic getaway to St. Augustine. And now for my 30th birthday, we are headed to New Orleans!

Sharing a birthday with your own mother is something I cannot describe. Not only are we bonded by blood, but we are bonded by my mother doing the most selfless thing a person can do; give birth to another human being. All I have to say is Mom and Dad Kelly, thank you for creating me. I'm thankful to be alive every day!

In 1994 at 12 years of age, I came of age. My sister Kate and I walked downtown to see The Lion King and during the song Circle of Life, I got my very first period. Ironic, I know. As much as I tried to hide it, I had become a woman. Now, life was all about training bras, wet dreams, and shark week. I wasn’t happy about it, but what could I do?

At age 14, I met someone who I thought would be my soul mate forever. Sure, what do we know in junior high? Nothing. But I knew something was special about this boy. My parents weren’t crazy about him because he was kind of a weirdo (had long hair, listened to emo music, smoked pot, and had a mother who called herself Breeze Lyric or some shit like that). I didn’t care though; this kid was cool and he understood me. Our friendship would eventually become more in high school, but as life happens, we would lose touch. I still think about him from time to time and every time I do, a smile comes to my lips because I know he was my first love.

In 1999, I experienced my first true and devastating loss; my Grandpa Kelly. This is the second time in my entire life I have seen my father cry (the third and last time is when my parents dropped me off at college and Dad swears he had something in his eye, “pollen or some shit” as he said. Yea right Dad; just admit it. You were sad to drive away). The loss of my grandfather was profound.  And sad. But a piece of him lives on in my father and as he gets older, the similarities are uncanny. No doubt about that. Although his death was sad and took a toll on our family, Grandpa Kelly had set aside some money for Dad and because of that, we were able to enjoy the most amazing trip I have ever been on. Ireland in May 2000. (That is way too long of a story to even start now; someday though).

When my grandfather died, that was what I call an “old” loss. Simply because of his age. He had lived a great life and accomplished many things. But in 2000 at the age of 17, I would experience “young” loss by way of four friends perishing in a terrible car accident. Their deaths rocked the community and my peers equally as hard. No one knows what to say when a bunch of teenagers die tragically; all we could do was go to one funeral right after the other, share stories about them, and lean on each other when we collapsed from sadness. Although this experience was sad, it really taught me that life truly is precious and just because you’re young doesn’t make you exempt from tragedy.

At age 18, I moved away from home and started college. Learned what it was like to truly live on my own and to take responsibility for myself. Best lesson my parents ever taught me was to pay for my education on my own. Because of that, I truly appreciate the education I received and proudly hang my diploma in my home. I may not have a career in my chosen field, but in my heart I am a writer and will always be a writer. I still have a mountain of student loan debt, but I don’t care. I went to college; I earned my diploma and I earned the right to call myself a writer.

I graduated in 2005 but my graduation was overshadowed by another “old” loss; my great aunt Ada had died that week and her funeral was on the day I was set to graduate. She had been on the decline for quite some time but her death was still sad for everyone. She was certainly a special lady and I just wish she had been in the right state of mind (damn you Alzheimer’s) to know how amazing all of us children turned out to be. I know both Grandpa and Aunt Ada (the only grandparents I have ever known) would be proud of the woman I have become (being a lesbian and all; they would have LOVED Emily). 

The day I was looking forward to when I started college was finally here. 19 July 2003. I was officially 21. By this time, I had fallen in love with a boy I was going to marry. It took me a while to get on-board with the whole idea of marriage, but by the time I turned 21, I was willing to at least talk about a future with him. My 21st birthday wasn’t epic by any means, but it was pretty amazing nonetheless. My roommates surprised me with an awesome cake and a night out on the town and that weekend we had a huge backyard party. I couldn’t have been happier at that moment; I had amazing friends, and amazing boyfriend, and I was finally legal to drink!!!

By the time I turned 24, I had been to amazing places like Ireland, Miami, Key West, Missouri (not amazing, but I had been there). I had friends come and go but the true ones stayed by my side no matter what, and I had partied my ass off. I also had two amazing nephews I couldn’t get enough of. But I had also experienced devastating loss and hardships. I had fallen in love with a boy, but we had broken each other’s hearts over the course of four years (sadly, I broke his heart more than he did mine; it wasn’t intentional, I was just honest). After I ended the engagement with him, it was time to truly be honest with myself for the first time in years. I was in love with a woman. I always wanted to be in love with a woman, and in 2006, I finally had the opportunity. But would she feel the same way? Whatever; it didn’t matter if she did or not. Something had changed in our friendship and I was determined to see it through to the end, even if that meant ending an engagement and losing her as a friend.

In 2008, my risky move paid off. Emily and I fell in love with each other and in spite of some negative feedback and reactions, we decided we would work super hard to change people’s minds because we were the real deal. We were meant to be together. I could feel it in my bones and in my heart. I had never and have never been happier than when I’m with her. To get a fresh start, we decided Wisconsin was no longer the place for us and migrated south to Florida. Best decision we’ve ever made for the sake of our relationship. It was difficult to leave behind family and friends, but if we hadn't, we would not have the relationships we have today. I think distance made some people's hearts grow fonder and it also taught them patience and acceptance. Emily and I worked extremely hard and never gave up on those people who we knew loved us but just couldn't accept our relationship right away. That's another important lesson I have learned; NEVER EVER GIVE UP.

By 2009, I was 27 and had learned a lot from my experiences, particularly ending a relationship with someone I didn’t love to starting one with someone I was in love with. The best feeling in the world is taking a chance on someone who is unpredictable and who could hurt you; but that same person could also be worth the risk and would never hurt you. The best advice I can give someone is if you’re not with the person who makes you the best person YOU can be, it’s time to get out. Love sometimes isn’t enough. Promises aren’t enough. You need to have that one person by your side that makes you humble and proud at the same time. If the person you have chosen to be with does not make you proud and humble, who does not accept your friends or your family (because let’s face it; with you comes friends and family and sometimes you have to suck it up), or who does not make you a better person every single day, you should get out while you have a chance. Emily not only makes me a better person, but a better friend, a better woman, and goddamn if I don’t worship the ground she walks on (and she knows it too).

In 2010 I was 28 and creeping closer to 30. I realized we weren’t married, we didn’t own a house, and we have a mountain of debt. But I didn’t care. I had what I had always wanted in my life—the love of a beautiful woman. We’ve been through a lot together; struggled with family issues—acceptance and rejection—and have also learned to love people for who they are, not “what” they are. Without Emily...well, let’s just say I have her to thank for a lot.

Today I turn 30. I have made my fair share of mistakes over the years; I’m human. But I learn from my mistakes and for some of those mistakes, I have made amends with some people; others my sincere apologies have been rejected for petty reasons such as an ancient grudge or an assumption I am the same person I used to be. Such is life. At least I can say I tried my hardest to accept the things I cannot change, and change the things I cannot accept.

In the spirit of being completely honest and upon turning 30, I’m happy to know I’m not the same person I used to be (angry and dishonest with myself and others, a temper that could only rival my father’s, and overprotective of the ones I love). As Darwin theorized, people evolve. I have evolved into someone not only I can be proud of, but that other people can be proud of as well.  Today, at the age of 30, I am blunt, brutally honest, sarcastic, humorous, and just awesome. I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Obviously a lot more has happened in my life, but I'm not writing an autobiography here; I'm simply reflecting on certain periods of time that have taught me important lessons about life, love, and happiness.

To all my loved ones: I am extremely thankful for the love and support I've gotten over the span of my 30 years. You all know who you are. Every single one of you has had an astounding affect on and presence in my life and I am forever grateful. If you're still in my life and know me well, you know I love you from the deepest depths of my heart and always will. To those of you I have lost along the way and are no longer here with us, I love and you miss you terribly. To those of you I have lost by way of losing a relationship for petty reasons, all I can say is you're missing out. That may sound selfish, but I don't care because it's true. I'm not a vain person, nor am I an egotistic SOB. I am just honest and I consider myself to be one of the most loving, caring, selfless people on this planet and the fact that you're not here to see it must suck for you.

One last thing: the most important lesson I’ve learned in 30 years, and the lesson I feel everyone should take to heart, is to be 100% truly and completely honest with yourself. If you’re not, you’re not fooling anyone else but yourself. And what kind of life is that? Not one I'd like to live ever again, because look what I have to show for being honest with myself:



CelticLady said...

Wow, Kara you are an amazing person and I am thankful on July 19th 1982 that you came into my life...

KC Kelly said...

Me too!!!!! Love you!

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