A Season to Reengage

This post is dedicated to Yared Gebregzi and Cherie Spataro, I miss you, まったね

In August of this year I turned 30 years old. People often say that once you cross the threshold and leave your 20’s behind that your body starts to ache and that you physically feel different. My experience has been less physical and more introspective. Ten years ago I was a junior in college and a young 20 something. I had just broken up with my boyfriend of 5 years. I spent the entire summer recovering from heartbreak. I went to summer school to distract myself, but I was still depressed. A sweet friend of mine held me together through this experience. We would sip chamomile tea every night before bed and we would stay up chatting until we were tired enough to fall asleep. She allowed me to lean on her and those moments made all the difference. Flashing forward to my 30-year-old self I still struggle with depression and anxiety, but it is something that I have learned to recognize and manage.

When I reflect on my college years, it was the friends from my linguistics classes, Japanese classes and my church community who helped me survive. Each friendship encounter was destined to occur. A chance meeting with one outgoing and energetic girl led me to attend church and gain an instant community of peers. Many of my college friends and I lived in this weird and quirky realm of being both language nerds and academic minded. My friends from school are some of the most intelligent and beautiful souls I have ever met. They have each continued to journey deeper into their own personal passions and I am so proud of each of them.

The fall can be a difficult time of year for me. I often find myself reflecting on the loss of 2 dear friends that I met and grew alongside in college. Sometimes I wonder, what if we both knew what the other was going through, could we have leaned on each other, could we have saved one another? These are questions that circle in my head as I grieve their premature passing. Today, I am grateful for life and opportunity, but at the same time my heart pains from the highs and lows of life.

September is suicide prevention month. This month I am focusing on relationship building, sitting down and meeting with new and old friends. In the busyness of life, I often forget to engage in my community of close friends and family. My goal this season is to reengage. I will do what I can to support my loved ones as they pursue their own life ventures. I am thankful for my own community who has supported me as well. Like always thank you for reading and I know that your next venture awaits.

Pictured left to right: Carla Stone (Me), Professor Anne H. Charity Hudley Ph.D., Kenay Sudler and Yared Gebregzi September 12, 1989 ~ August 4, 2015

Why I love this photo: Yared and I were walking together to this function at another professor's home. We got so lost along the way. An older couple in a van offered to drive us to the address. We both looked at each other and silently decided if we should get in the van with complete strangers. We thought about it for all of half a second and then shrugged our shoulders and hopped in the van. Needless to say, we made it to the event on time and were able to snag this lovely picture highlighting black linguistic Excellence <3

About my friendship with Yared: Yared and I met on the first day in one of our linguistic classes. A dear professor of ours asked the class to line up to have our picture taken to help him learn our names. Yared and I awkwardly stood in line and waited our turn. During this time I learned that Yared didn't care much for having his picture taken. He was bashful, but we joked about the awkward situation and we both had a good laugh and made each other smile before taking our individual pictures. I would later discover that Yared was also taking Japanese and we would continue to have classes together and stay up late typing papers together. When I took over as president of linguistics club, Yared was one of the first members to join and helped bring life to our little club. Yared was one of the funniest friends I had in college. He was quiet which meant I was often one of the few who caught the hilarious side comments or jokes he would make. I miss him so much and when I think about how much I love linguistics and Japanese Yared will always be apart of those memories.

Pictured left to right: Ashlee Harris, Carla Stone (Me), Cherie Spataro July 20, 1989~ April 29, 2017, Lauren Klasse

Why I love this photo: This photo was taken at Otakon which is an annual event where anime, manga and lovers of Japanese culture come together and dress up. It's an opportunity to show the world who you are and to be your true self. Lauren sewed her beautiful Kimono and Cherie was in cosplay as well. Ashlee and I dressed as our selves, but I acquired some cat ears and rocked them all day :)

About my friendship with Cherie: Cherie was one of my close friends from Japanese class and from my time living in the Japanese language house. Cherie was an artist, a trusted friend and one of those buddies you can go on adventures with. Hands down my favorite memory is when we all hopped in a car and drove to Virginia Beach in the middle of the night in search of a Filipino dessert. When we discovered that the restaurant was out of that particular dish we decided to walk along the beach. It was such an adventure and one where I felt so carefree. Thank you for the joyful memories, Spataroさん, I miss you so much.

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