Forgive me, I am aware that the first month of 2017 is almost beyond us, and the 2016 comments and complaints will soon no longer be interesting. Nevertheless, I would like to share with you all some of my most memorable moments from the previous year because, for some reason, as I sat here on this rainy and cold Monday night listening to “Home” by Phillip Phillips I got somewhat emotional and began looking through old photos to realize, “Hey. 2016 was big.” Enjoy.
The new year rolled in and brought with it a surplus of stress. I spent the first few days of January preparing for a college interview with Northwestern University which consisted of Google searching current events and trying to think of a respectable “favorite book,” if the interviewer may ask. She didn’t. She did, however, share that she attended St. Ursula Academy, my high school. We were Arrow sisters! I was in! Except I got denied from the university and blocked the interview experience from my brain until this very moment. Lovely.
I attended a Kairos retreat the second week of January which is basically three days in a summer camp environment full of girls crying constantly, emotional bonding, spiritual growth, and dining hall food. The trip almost got cancelled because of a blizzard, but that didn’t stop us! Every trek to the dining hall consisted of bundling up to the point of not being able to recognize each other. But my friendships were, indeed, strengthened and the sisterhood was tangible as we drove back to Toledo huddled together because the bus windows refused to shut in the dead of winter.
In February I found out that I was a National Merit Finalist which was very exciting. My fate was also sealed at attending the University of Kentucky, still without having visited the place once. I found myself on my high school website and Twitter account smiling in front of a St. Angela Merici statue holding a certificate of my recognition. “Proud of you, Lauryn!” I was proud of myself too.
A huge tree fell in my backyard about a week later and earned the title of “second most exciting thing to happen this month."
March was long-awaited. I had a spring break trip planned with my family and my best friend, Lizzie to Clearwater Beach, Florida. We played a lot of frisbee and football and took way too many pictures. The sun hid from us most days, but we made up for it by eatings lots of ice cream and laughing at lots of puns. Our friends we made on the trip made it the most memorable. (And the giant inflatable water slide, matching friendship bracelets, and daily morning coffee.)
In April I finally visited my future home of Lexington, Kentucky. I thought it was cute, but I was too busy thinking about intramurals to take anything seriously! Intramurals is a school-wide competition at my all-girls high school where the classes compete against each other in a variety of competitions over the duration of a week. My class had won our junior year, so we were defending champions. I participated in the class dance and dressed up like an elderly gentleman to perform the routine I had been awake at 7am to practice for months leading up to it. Here are some photos of “Grandma’s House,” or the freshmen/senior hall bathroom. We were (of course!) victorious.
In April I also met a beautiful boy. I wrote my phone number on his arm in pen the first night we met, and he kept it on his skin for days. We went to my prom in coordinating silver and also went to his the next month. So it begins.
On May 4th I became an adult. I felt exactly the same as I did at 17 but feigned enthusiasm at my newfound freedom. May was full of lasts. I finished my four years of high school and my senior year yearbook and graduated in a white cap and gown next to my best friends. I attended goodbye mother-daughter luncheons and recognition nights and celebratory masses for days in new dresses and pearly necklaces. My little private school bubble was about to burst. Thankfully, before the weight of the situation could hit me, I left for another vacation with my best friend the day after graduation. We took a road trip to Hilton Head Island and stayed for a week in a condo on the beach with her family. Lizzie left to golf occasionally, and I was left for hours in the sand with a smoothie and a book. No complaints.
June was my favorite month. As a graduation gift, my mother took my sister and I to London. If you have visited the “About Us” page on this website you will know that I have an unhealthy obsession with London. I want everything British. This was my second visit to my favorite city, and it only reinforced my desire to live there as an adult. (It also may have something to do with my love for Topshop). We saw Rihanna at Wembley Stadium and visited just about every tourist destination you can think of. The architecture, the accents, the adorable street signs. My friend Emily and her family joined us, and we had a lovely girls’ trip.
I went on a weeklong family vacation with my father’s side in July to Norris Lake, Tennessee. The whole Haas clan under one roof. My dad was almost lost-at-sea, and our pontoon boat almost capsized, but that's the stuff that makes memories! The trailer that we pulled our boat down on also broke, and we had a robbery scare with the replacement parts being shipped to the lake house. But what's a family vacation without drama?
In August I scrambled. Scrambled to get everything I needed for my dorm, scrambled to acquire enough clothes to live in since I had been wearing a uniform my whole life, and scrambled to say goodbye to all of my people. I was asked if I was excited by just about everyone I ran into, and I gave them all an attempted enthusiastic yes, but I wasn't really sure. My sister started her first day of her junior year before I left, and I felt strange watching her drive off without me in the car headed to the same destination. St. Ursula was directly correlated to the word school for me, and I was trying and failing to disassociate the two. On August 18th I cried and cried and cried as I hugged my best friend and the boy goodbye. We would all be very far apart very soon, and I wasn't prepared for how this would affect me. New Jersey is pretty far from Kentucky. But then again, so is Toledo. We crammed all of my supplies into a tiny little car and headed for Lexington the next morning.
In September I began to adjust to my classes and new environment, but I also experienced my first time being incredibly sick far away from home. Not an enjoyable experience. I visited home and the University of Cincinnati to stay with a friend. This is when I first began to realize that my home in Toledo didn't feel like home, but neither did my dorm. When I walked into my bedroom for the first time since leaving, I noticed that my sister and mother had rearranged it and taken what they wanted as well as depositing boxes that had no other place to go. Thanks guys!
Oh, October. In October I was thrown into an existential crisis brought on by the boy and faced one of the most difficult times in my life so far. In the midst of the trauma I grew closer to my friends at UK who were there to support me when I needed them, the silver lining of the situation. Dealing with everything from Kentucky became too much, so I flew home for a much-needed weekend in the comforting arms of familiarity. This was my first time flying alone, and I realized I was finally beginning to feel like an adult! The month ended with a photoshoot done by Sam which provided us with photos that you will see all over this website.
In November I was home for more than two days for the first time in months. A difficult part of attending college out-of-state: when you're home, do you unpack all of your clothes or live out of a suitcase? I chose the suitcase option, which proved difficult but not for long. Full of mashed potatoes and turkey I headed back to Lexington to finish the semester and take my exams before Christmas Break.
After a gift exchange and a cookie-baking marathon with Sam and Cathryn, I headed home in December for an entire month. This month was much needed. I made myself breakfast every day after being deprived of decent scrambled eggs for weeks. I sincerely appreciated being able to shower without flip-flops on and not having to wash my dishes and brush my teeth in the same sink. I saw all of my friends that I hadn't seen since August and watched the snow fall day after day from my bedroom window without having to rush off to a 9am class. To top off the year, my mom got engaged (!!!!!!), and I threw my very first New Years Eve Party with all of my friends from high school. The next morning, we went out to breakfast at our favorite place and started the new year the right way with pancakes and hash browns.
Thank you, 2016, for the milestones, the life lessons, and for finally being over.