megan.

twenty eight thank yous.

Today is my birthday.

Twenty-eight.

Celebrations after twenty-five are often treated with disdain (“Grow up, already!”), but I can’t help it: January 31 will always be a red-letter day for me. Birthdays were a big deal growing up; they were basically the only holiday my family celebrated. Well – unless you count our annual tradition of protesting as many Christmas church services in our hometown as the seventy of us could cover in a single night, regaling the parishioners with a version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” rewritten to describe [what we perceived to be] gay sex practices in graphic detail. “Five golden showers!” You get the idea. I was maybe seven or eight when I learned the song, so these weren’t concepts I understood (at least, not until Gramps explained them from the pulpit on Sunday), but I sang along heartily anyway.

Do you count that? I don’t count that.

So. Birthdays.

This month has been full of reflection for me. That’s partly because I started my first Whole30® on January 1, which I successfully completed yesterday (Miley grin, tongue and all ;) ). It’s impossible to truly change the fundamentals (food, sleep, exercise) without it fundamentally changing your outlook on life. They’re at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy for a reason, my friends! Depression, guilt, anxiety, sadness – they haven’t disappeared, but they’ve become so much easier to deal with. I’m lighter, mentally and physically, than I’ve been in years, and that’s something worth celebrating on my twenty-eighth.

The reflection also stems from the fact that after a year spent on the road, I’ve finally landed in a place I plan to be for awhile. Deadwood, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Des Moines, Chicago, Sandusky, Hartford, New York, Boston, Montreal, and I wasn’t anywhere for longer than a month at a time. Three weeks, three days – these were the norms. It was equal parts running to adventure, to awareness, to understanding, and running from “real life,” from decision-making, from the past, from the future. It was a glorious mess.

But that’s a story for another day. In this moment, I just want to share the biggest part of my thoughts: my overwhelming love and gratitude to the people who have shared their time, homes, kindness, experiences, and love over the past 1.25 years, people who welcomed Grace and me into their lives when ours had been all but emptied of those we held (and hold) dear.

In order of appearance: Bob. Keith. Jason. Libby. Logan. Dan. Amy. Drew. Aidan. Josh. Stephanie. Gabe. Brandy. Hez. Hayley. Tim. Uncle. Shirley. Bella. Adam. Graham. Chris. Larry. LeAndre. Dana. Timothy. Jeff. Moïsh. Paige. Steven. Taylor. Kate. Dylan. Emma. Susanne. Pepijn. Louis. Afentra. Danny. Laura. Dustin. Cora. Ryan. Chad. Nana. Tammy. Amanda. Tanner. Hank. Sully. Dave. Josh. Will. Jacie. Heidi. Andrew. Jennika. Joe. Michelle. Sam. Mariah. Dave. Emily. Grant. Daniel. Tristan. Anne. Wendy. Lauren. Nate. Kevin. Mac. Jake. Justin. Dan. Jack. Jane. Derek. Chad. Amanda. Brittnie. John. Scott. Monte. David. Yonah. Rachel. Moshe. Tzofiya. Shlomo. Nafi. Marcus. Josh. Ben. Dani. Meira. Josh. Michael. Eric. Zadie. Lauren. David. Ayo. Chad. Pauley. Krissy. Jeremy. Jeremy. Dan. Barbara. Chad. Kurt. Myra. Josh. Eric. Tess. Jessica. Brett. John. Joyce. Grace. Keith. Eleanor. Al. Davis. David. Maria. Marina. Dima. Jen. Mel. Sarah. Ray. Chris. Rebecca. Rob. Jess. Blaire. Kayla. DJ. Sarah. Lacy. Louis. Katie. Joey. Mandy. Greta. Blake. David. Alicia. Tara. Maggie. Glenn. Emily. Darrel. Ryan. Nicole. Ava. Thomas. Adrian. Molly. Ed. Karrie. Halle. Kate. Jasper. Diane. Tia. Sandy. Brad. Desi. Joyce. Marlin. Jerry. Cindy. Ronnie. Joan. Amy. Mike. Jaime. Angel. Mike. Sarah. Mila. Nolan. Jake. Kat. Sydney. Gabe. Ryan. Lishai. Michal. Julie. Steven. Jake. Darren. Carly. Will. Carolina. Kalervo. Amanda. Sarah. Avi. Mandy. Jeremy. Lucas. Alex. Jon. David. Jade. Matt. Karen. Briah. Tamira. Sapira. D’veer. Karen. Kell. Simja. Miguel. Sandy. Ido. Noa. Marie. Victor. Bracha. Margot. Ohad. Bill. Tyler. Eileen. Deborah. Theresa. Louis. John.

My memory is good (I get it from my mama, who, given any date of her existence, can describe it to you, including what she ate, with relative accuracy and certainty) – but it’s not perfect. To all those named and unnamed, and to every nameless stranger whose kindness I was fortunate to encounter on my path: please know that you have profoundly impacted my life. Every act and word of understanding, generosity, and care showed me how different humanity was than I had believed. At first, it was shocking to me (how wrong I’d been!). It’s still something that makes me marvel. And I’m more determined than ever to share that love and compassion with others.

Cheers to my twenty-eighth year for teaching me that we *all* need it.

- megan.

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12 thoughts on “twenty eight thank yous.

  1. Happy Birthday, Megan. I’m grateful that you’ve allowed us all access to your journey over the past year. Believe me when I say that you and Grace have taught so many of us that change is possible, that true dialogue is the only way to understanding, and that empathy is king.

    When next you find yourself in Boston, I owe you a cupcake. Or a steak. Something.

  2. A million times, Happy Birthday To You, sweet, wise Megan. Though I am but a stranger, a nameless, faceless person on the crowded streets of the internet, I am proud of the woman you are becoming. You’ve shed the skin of your former self and emerged a beautiful butterfly. Spread your wings and fly, my friend.

    Fly.

    May your 28th year on this planet be bountifully blessed.

  3. Numbers 6:24 Jehovah bless thee, and keep thee: 25 Jehovah make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26 Jehovah lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

    שלום

  4. richard says:

    Happy Birthday and it’s good that you made a positive change in your life. Whatever path you continue to travel, please don’t lose your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. As a Catholic, I never took it personal and still don’t, what the WBC says about my religion. I find your WBC family quite amusing. Keep faith in the Lord, continue to see him as your Savior and not just another prophet.
    One thing for sure, Gramps has produced some of the most beautiful granddaughters on this earth. Stay positive, remain Christian, and continue to seek the path toward forgiveness, prosperity and success.
    Buena Suerte y Vayas con dios ———Good luck and go with God.

  5. You must have made transformation contagious, because I’ve had a big dose of it this year as well. Sending gratitude to you and Grace for sharing your journey with Chad and I on that terrific evening last summer. You have a place to stay in Atlanta!

  6. Katie, Australia says:

    I first heard of your former church when someone showed me the link of the Louis Theroux doco he did on WBC, I saw all these beautiful, intelligent, passionate people spewing hate and all I could feel was sorrow. Sorrow for these people being taught hate by those who they held most dear and trusted more than anything, sorrow for sweet young children reciting sad words they didn’t even understand yet but most of all sorrow for your family and the other families who don’t know any different.
    Who appeared to truly believe they were spreading the word of god and couldn’t see/didn’t care of the damage they were causing to others.
    Now I’m not a religious person. At all.
    However something about twisting the words of the bible to invite death and destruction on innocent people made me feel ill. Made me sad for all of those lost people.
    I don’t know you, either of you and I can not even begin to fathom what it must be like to give up everything you’ve ever known and loved in the hopes of being a better person but I expect it to be nothing less the heart wrenching and conflicting.
    What you both did was an amazingly selfless act and I can see by this blog that you’re struggling so I hope my words offer a little encouragement.
    Be proud of what you have done. Hold strong to your beliefs when you and only you decide what they are. And don’t ever feel like you have to give up on your family just keep hoping that one day they will come to realize they are missing out on two amazing girls and they find their way back to you both.

    P.s A very (late) Happy birthday to you! 🎈

  7. Hartage says:

    Megan, I just read the article on the beginning of your adventure 1.5 years ago which lead to this blog. I just read this very first page of your blog and am quite moved by your ability to not only appreciate but remember the kindness of others to you. If you are ever in my neck of the woods (Oceanside, CA) I would love to show you (and your sister) around. Perhaps grab lunch somewhere. If you would like to share your story and experiences I’m sure my church would love to have you as a guest speaker. We just had a sermon a few weeks back addressing how churches treat the subject of homosexuality. During the sermon there was a cynical comment and the pastor had to gently guide the flock. We as a community needed to not loose sight that the people we may or may not disagree with are just that, people. My reasons for reaching out to you are personal. I admire the mountain of strength it takes to leave the familiar behind, to leave the community, the family. I would like to help in the ways that I can to further your goal, enrich your life. If you would like to visit the San Diego area you have a tour guide and perhaps a new friend. I would love for you to learn about our community, our area. I would love for myself and my community to learn about you and your journey. I bid you good tidings. Hartage

  8. I seem to be a few months late in my birthday wishes to you. ;) But I hope it was wonderful! I’ve come across a few articles on the web recently regarding you and your family, and thought I’d take a moment to at least say “Hello.” There are news stories today that report that your grandpa isn’t doing very well health-wise. I don’t know how often you get a chance to communicate with him anymore, but I just wanted to let you know that your family is in my prayers tonight. Be strong and of good courage. May God continually guide and protect you, and give you peace.

  9. You are a great writer and the message on learning to love is profound. Saving these for a book would be a good idea – not to make money, but to share the message. It softens my heart too for your family and especially granddad when I read these. Blessings to you. Keep giving the pain to God.

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