Five Four and a Quarter

Questions, confessions, experiences, and inspirations of a twenty-something-year-old

Love For Boston April 17, 2013

Monday afternoon, I was sitting in my apartment in Brighton when I got my first text message from a friend telling me that there had just been an explosion in Boston. Immediately after, my brother called me from Vermont asking me if I was all right. The next fifteen minutes were spent immersed in multiple group text messages from all of my close friends and relatives, most of which I couldn’t respond to, since my phone wasn’t working properly. I had people texting me from both in Boston and also those living in Vermont, New Hampshire, and even California, making sure that all of us in Boston were OK. It wasn’t until a while after these initial conversations that it really started to sink in.

Holy shit. There was just a bombing in Boston. Two blocks away from where I work.

The office emails started to go out. Teams tracking down all of their teammates. Leadership and Security ensuring that all our people were safe and accounted for. Me talking to co-workers individually. “Are you in the office?” “Are you safe?” “Is everyone there OK?”

Two blocks away is just too close for comfort. Luckily, it proved to be all we needed, and fortunately no one had been in the danger zone of the explosions. Now, two days later, I still constantly find myself thinking about all the what-ifs? One of my close friends was two blocks away from the first explosion. What if she had stayed put for ten extra minutes? A coworker who was running the marathon was on the same stretch as both bombs. What if she had run two minutes faster? My roommate was at Fenway for a Red Sox game, with the plan to walk toward the finish line after. What if she had left the game early? A year ago on Marathon Monday, I took a break from the office, went out into the blazing heat of last year’s marathon, walked the two blocks to the finish line, and witnessed some of the runners crossing the final 26.2 mark. What if I hadn’t worked from home this year? What if, once again, I had been in Back Bay and had decided to go watch the Marathon at 2:30, as most of the runners were nearing the finish line?

On Sunday, the day before the marathon, a few friends and I walked all the way down Beacon Street in Brookline and Boylston Street in Boston. The last four miles of the Boston Marathon. The exact route on which Monday’s bombings took place. On Sunday, I stood at the corner of Exeter and Boylston Streets, on the block that these bombs were placed. What if I had walked this route on Monday instead?

Today was everyone’s first day back in the office since the horrific events of Monday. We started off the morning with an all-team meeting. 150 people gathered to listen to my bosses share their thankfulness for our camaraderie and our safety. They thanked everyone for our quick emergency responses. They encouraged us to all talk with each other if we need to, to show compassion, to take as much time as we needed to ease back into work. We spent the next few minutes looking at a montage of funny, happy pictures from work events and team travel. We were all smiling and laughing as my boss discussed where we’ve been over the years together, how close and friendly everyone is, and how we all spend more time together than with our own families and we really have a sense of all being family. I quickly went from laughing to tearing up as we had a moment of silence in honor of Monday’s victims and my boss once again expressed his gratefulness in everyone’s safety, saying that “I spent Monday trying to keep my eight-year-old away from the TV on the same day that another eight-year-old was killed.

I read an article today about things people forget to be grateful for. In addition to having food, water, the internet, growing up in a war-free country, and the eight other points listed in this article, after Monday’s events in my city I feel more fortunate than ever for everything else I take for granted. Having all four of my grandparents still alive. Growing up in a happy –yet crazy in a good way– family. Having a successful job that I love. Having the greatest friends, both those in Boston who I see or talk to almost every day and those farther away who I see far less frequently, yet it still feels like it was yesterday when we were last together. Having relatives nearby who I can easily see for holidays or “just because we need a girl’s night.”

I think the last time I had a true reality check like this was a year and a half ago, when I was hit by a car. It’s funny how bad experiences will do that to you. It’s made it clearer than ever that you need to be thankful for all the good things in your life, live each day to the fullest, tell people that you love them, have fun every day, and remember to smile. Because the harsh truth is, you never know if there will be a tomorrow.

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All The Single Ladies February 19, 2013

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A meeting that I had with my boss and coworker this morning quickly escalated from pure business into an in-depth discussion on life, love, reminiscence, and all the what-if’s and choices that a person makes as they embark down the path of their life.  My coworker–we’ll call her Emily– who’s also twenty-four, is a lot like me. Driven, independent, hard-working, energetic—Oh, and single. We’re both very content with our single lives. I’m assuming that she also is single by choice and, like me, doesn’t feel an urge or desire to have a significant other at this point in time. Nonetheless, it’s inevitable for small feelings of doubt to creep in, especially as we both take passive roles in watching people around us move into their future lives with a “soul mate.” This spring, I’ll be going to my third wedding of my high school girlfriends. Last week, Emily watched two of her friends get engaged. Emily and I agreed on the better-them-than-me aspect of our situations, but it’s still hard not to think about, “When will this be me?” “Will it ever be me?” “Am I missing out on opportunities because I’m not actively dating right now?”

My boss –let’s name her Erica– quickly set our unspoken concerns aside when she shared her own experience of being a twenty-something with us. She told us how fortunate she is that the man she married when she was only a few years older than Emily and me is the one; how hard it would be to run the Marking Services department at a 1 billion dollar company and manage a family at the same time if she had settled for the wrong person; and how it’s so much better to stay single, forever, if necessary, than to form your entire future with someone with whom you aren’t 100% compatible. To be honest, it feels a little out of my comfort zone to be writing about all this marriage stuff. I’ve never thought about having a wedding or whom I hope to end up with. But in terms of the here and now and the uncertainty that I do feel in terms of whether or not I should be actively looking for that “special someone,” I now feel content with my choice to live life in the moment and not think about the future.

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Erica met her husband in a very When Harry Met Sally way. They grew up in the same town on the North Shore of Boston, but a few years apart and in different neighborhoods, never meeting each other. After college, Erica was in a serious relationship and assumed she would marry her boyfriend, although she felt like there was something missing. Following her heart, she ended the relationship and met her husband-to-be merely months later, at which point they made the connection that they should have met long ago. –Her boyfriend ended up fleeing to the west coast and working at a “small startup called Google,” so I’m assuming he forgave her for breaking his heart.–

As we spent the next fifteen minutes internet stalking Erica’s ex boyfriends from when she was in her late teens and early twenties and restating the cliché “That’s what your twenties are for,” Emily kept saying that this reassurance that it’s OK for us to be single was exactly what she needed to hear after watching two friends get engaged. For me, I’ve never given the thought much analysis beyond the point that if I’m going to be single at any time in my life, now is the time, rather than down the road. This conversation did, however, support everything I’ve ever told myself when I’ve doubted my relationship status –or lack of it:– it’s OK to be single. My friends and my job are my life right now and I’m happy. Things tend to work themselves out. Everything happens for a reason.

I’m assuming that at some point fairly soon my view on being single will change and I’ll be eager to move on with my future, but for now, life is pretty damn good.

 

A Different Kind of Love December 5, 2012

 

hearts

I think I’ve been too in love my friends.

 

Looking at my previous posts confirms this fact. Topics about my friends are extremely prominent. I started out, fresh out of college, worried that our friendship wouldn’t last. I cast this anxiety to the side last spring when we had proven that we would all put in the time and energy to get together. Then people followed me and moved to Boston. Life was amazing. This past summer was the best one I’ve ever had. I was constantly surrounded by my friends and there was nowhere else I wanted to be.  It even got to the point where I was selfish. I turned down opportunities to hang out with anyone besides my close-knit group. If I had wanted to, I could have grown my relationships with a lot of coworkers. But I didn’t want this. I wanted my friends. My college friends, who were starting to feel more and more like the family that I had chosen for myself. I was, in a sense, in love.

It’s  been a long time since I’ve been in love, which may be the reason why I forgot an important underlying fact. With love, there is great risk. With love, there is the potential of heartbreak. With love, a tiny, minor disappointment really hits you hard. The small jolt that I recently experienced in our friendship felt like getting rear ended but telling people you were in a head-on collision. No, nothing bad happened. I just feel let down. I honestly don’t even know why. As I said, it was a minor disappointment. So small, in fact, that I can’t even decipher what exactly lit is. I just know that it’s here and I can’t stop thinking about it, like having an elephant in the room.

I don’t make New Year resolutions. I’ve never felt that I needed to. Maybe this should change. Maybe, in 26 days, I should make a resolution to spread myself more horizontally across different people, rather than put my whole heart and soul into one box. It’s risky to believe in something with all of your heart. If you have any doubts, any at all, is it worth the risk? Do i let fate take its course, ride out the storm and see what happens? Or do I make a definitive decision?

I’m hoping that in a few days I delete this post because it was such a ridiculous thing to write. I want to laugh about it and find it amusing that I was so distressed by nothing. But right now, my faith is fading fast. Maybe it’s just time, for better or for worse. Time to make lives separate from one another. A lot of my friends just got new jobs, myself included. Could this be a sign that it’s time to move on, to grow up, to put our energy into bigger and more important things?

There are so many questions, so many maybes. But I guess that’s just the nature of life. No one really knows.

 

24 October 1, 2012

I just celebrated my 24th birthday. I wasn’t very excited for my 22nd or 23rd birthdays –after you’re 21, birthdays aren’t as thrilling,– but 24 proved to be the best one I’ve had in a few years.  I don’t really make birthday or new year’s resolutions. I do, however, have some big takeaways from the last four years.  With inspiration from Thought Catalog, I figured, what better time than my birthday to take a step back and look at all the things I’ve learned thus far in my twenties?

  1. The friends that you make your freshman year of college may not be the ones standing by you for graduation pictures
  2. Don’t take it for granted if your parents help out with your rent during college
  3. You will have a bad experience with certain liquors that result in you never being able to drink them again
  4. Your 21st birthday will be one of the best nights of your life that you don’t remember
  5. It might be important to you to launch your career as soon as possible. It might not. Maybe you want to travel, or work a dead-end job and have fun. There is no right answer. Follow your heart
  6. Your friends are 10 times more important than being in a relationship. Always remember: bros before hoes, chicks before dicks
  7. Keep a keen fashion sense from your childhood and even from your parents’ childhood. The popular fashion of several decades ago will come back into style. Except for cargo pants. Those are never coming back
  8. Social media is an amazing creation. It has made the world 3 dimensional. It requires people to share their lives with complete strangers. A lot of the time, it isn’t clear exactly what a large impact social media plays in your life. Love it. Embrace it. It isn’t going away anytime soon
  9. Sleep is overrated
  10. You aren’t still in college and you will get hangovers. Your body just can’t handle the binge drinking like it used to
  11. Freezing cold, frigid, snot-freeze-to-your-face weather sucks. It doesn’t mean you have to move to Florida. It just means it will be that much better when winter ends and spring arrives
  12. Spring break doesn’t have to be like it’s depicted in movies. You can have just as much fun relaxing with a few friends or going on a cruise with your grandmother
  13. Graduating from college doesn’t mean that the best years of your life are over. So far, my mid 20’s have been pretty awesome
  14. Change is scary and often unwanted. However, it can also be exciting. Try to embrace change and focus on the positives
  15. Carpe diem
 

Know Who You Are April 22, 2012

Filed under: Life,Revelation — Arianna Bolotin @ 8:42 pm
Tags: ,

I recently read a blog post on The Rest Is Still Unwritten about the blogger’s relationship with his grandmother. The two had been close his whole life and were connected by the stories they shared. It really got me thinking about my relationship with my own grandparents and particularly my relationship with Zaydee, my paternal grandfather. Similar to this grandmother-grandson duo, I’ve always felt extremely close and connected to Zaydee. As he tells everyone he introduces to me, I would fall asleep on his bare chest as an infant when no one else could get me to stop crying. Twenty-three years later, we have a relationship different from any other I’ve ever seen between granddaughter and grandfather. We call each other just to say hi and chat. We constantly nag each other when we’re together–He jokingly yells at me when I eat “his” food, he tells me I will give all the old men at his retirement community a heart attack when I walk around in my bathing suit, and he always pretends to take me up on my offer to pay the dinner bill. I tell him when he’s looking exceptionally hairy, I always side with Bubbie when the two of them are arguing, and I let him know how pathetic it is that he uses his computer multiple times a day and still types with just his two fore fingers. The relationship we share is more of a friendship than a formal one based on “respect for your elders” — although I still won’t friend him on Facebook until he gets rid of his pseudonym virtual identity. However, I truly do respect Zaydee with all my heart. I marvel at his accomplishments and I give him –and everyone else in his generation– so much credit for accepting the evolving world and putting the time and energy into learning our technologies and ways of life that are so different from when he was in his mid twenties. But above everything else, I respect Zaydee for his writing.

Over the past few years, Zaydee has written many short stories. Some are true accounts of his life and some are fictional. While most of his written creations are simply shared and enjoyed between family and friends, Zaydee has submitted some to newspapers and writing contests, making him a published author. He writes each story on a pad of paper and then transfers it to the digital world, putting a lot of time and energy into those two pointer fingers of his as he brings his thoughts to life one letter at a time. I read and keep each story that Zaydee writes. Although I thoroughly enjoy them all, my favorites are the true accounts that teach me a little bit about my Zaydee and about my family. One of these, titled “I Remember,” is Zaydee’s account of being 17 and asking my Bubbie out on a date for the first time. Zaydee’s detailed recollection of this night many, many years ago and his ability to express himself in writing truly take my breath away. “I remember a spur-of-the-moment decision that I made on a warm night in August 1950. It was not a major decision…just a small one, the kind we make hundreds of times each day,” the story beings. Although it is a mere 583 words, I can vividly hear James Garner’s voice narrate the occurrence similar to how he tells the story of young love that stood the test of time in The Notebook.

The Notebook

Another one of Zaydee’s short stories, Coming Full Circle, is one that brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. This story relives a family trip to the beach we took a few years ago:

One day we all gathered on the nearby beach where we had spent many summer days
during the 33 years we lived in the neighboring town of Marblehead. As is typical of New
England’s rocky coastline, the north end of the beach provides a monstrous outcropping
of building-sized boulders that jut into the ocean. When my sons were toddlers and
adolescents, I had taken them to many such beaches to fish, swim, and hunt sea
creatures in the tidal pools.

And, during prior family gatherings, I had participated with my sons as they repeated the
process with my grandchildren. No big deal when you’re 50. Or 60. But what about 74?
After helping to set up the chairs, blankets, and umbrella, the “men” of the clan walked
to the rocks with the fishing rods that they had brought from home, some mussels
collected from the beach, and the purchased clams, squid, and herring to
hopefully tempt the Striped Bass that populate these waters in the summer. As my sons
scampered with their sons up and across the seaweed-encrusted rocks with their fishing
gear, I cautiously eyed the slime, barnacles, and jagged surfaces.

“Should I, or shouldn’t I?” I muttered to myself.

My machismo responded first. “Go ahead. You can do it.”

To which my arthritic knees screeched, “Are you crazy? We’re in trouble on stairs, even
with railings. You strain our balance and support when you’re on inclines because your
eyes have lost depth-perception; besides, you left your glasses back at the blanket.”
So, I bowed to the voices of discretion, and, shouting down my manly valor, called out
to my 49-year-old, number-2 son.

“Scott, I need help. I’m not steady enough to climb up.”

Scott stopped taking pictures of the others getting set up along the rocks at the water’s edge, and bounded down the rocks to reach his hand out to me. As I squinted up at him, I thought I saw a flicker of somber sadness flash across his face. Scott, who shares our family love of dark humor; lovingly calls me “old man” and often jokes, “You’re on your way to becoming just a photograph, Dad.”

I felt a twinge of sadness, too. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was the bounding hero
reaching out to rescue him?

Gripping my hand, he began to pull me up the rocks. As he guided my climb by pointing
out where I should place my feet, he offered encouragement. “Hold my hand, Dad. Step on that flat rock over there, Dad. Don’t step on that seaweed, Dad. It’s slippery.”

His cautionary chatter ignited my twinge into a full-blown flashback. Back, back, I went,
back 45 fast-flying years, to the days when I had introduced my sons to adventures
offered by ocean rocks. Back when Scott was a toddler holding onto my hand as I
uttered the same warnings to him and his brothers. “Hold my hand, son. Step over there, boys. Watch the seaweed.” Me, solid and safe. Me, young and strong.

I was awakened from my reverie by Scott’s hoarse whisper, “It all comes full circle,
doesn’t it, Dad?”

There are many things that will always remind me of Zaydee –spiritual Rafiki from The Lion King. My T-shirts and magnets that he airbrush painted. Distant memories of spending summers in Boston’s North Shore, riding bikes and being at the beach. Countless family photos and home videos. But Zaydee’s stories are something extra special. They are a tangible piece of him, of his thoughts and memories that make him who he is. They are immortal and in a way they will allow part of him to live forever, too.

There is no doubt that Zaydee and I will share many more memories and experiences over our lives together and his stories are something that I will hold onto and cherish forever. They depict who Zaydee is as a person, but they also form a little bit of my own identity and show who I am: I’m a Bolotin. The granddaughter of a writer, a believer, a thinker, and a doer. So keep on writing, Old Man.

 

Resolutionless January 16, 2012

Filed under: big decisions,having faith,Life,Revelation — Arianna Bolotin @ 5:15 pm

It is now two weeks into 2012 and I have yet to come up with a new year’s resolution.

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I’ve never been big on new year’s resolutions. –I confess, there were several consecutive years in high school where my resolution was to not throw up the following New Year’s Eve.– Seriously though, what do I want to be my goal for the coming year? To exercise? I already do. To eat healthy? Thanks to my parents, this has been engrained in me my whole life. To travel the world? Although that would be amazing, it requires both money and a time commitment that I do not currently possess. To keep in touch with old friends? I vowed I would do this long before the new year came around. To cook? To take on a new hobby? To learn a new skill? Not to sound overly confident, but these are all things that either already make up my life or that I know aren’t in my current hand of cards. Anyway, I agree with Grace Boyle when she says that “I think that resolutions, challenges and goals are important. The part I disagree with is only doing them on New Years.”

Still, a part of me recently felt self-conscious when I responded to questions regarding my new year’s resolution with “I don’t have one.” This makes me sound one of two things: either extremely cocky because I think I’m way too perfect to need a resolution –not the case– or incomplete as a person because I don’t have the motivation or desire to pursue a resolution. Not the case either. I spent the first week of 2012 trying to decide on a resolution, but during the following week I came to the conclusion that I’m okay with not having one.  Upon this realization, I let out a deep breath and immediately felt the weight leave my shoulders as this new awakening set in. I don’t need to start off the year with an overarching goal that I have 364 days to reach. Rather, I have full confidence that I will continue to live the year as I have lived each one previous: by completing both daily and longterm goals that I set for myself year-round, not only on January 1. After all, 2011 turned out pretty well without having a resolution:

With that, I raise my glass to an even better 2012!

 

The Life I Could Have Lived September 14, 2011

Two weeks ago, I packed the majority of my worldly possessions into a 26-foot U-Haul truck and hit the pavement to Boston. This was the first time in my life that I moved out of Vermont, the place where I’ve always called home. I could write a cliché post about this time of change, taking a leap of faith, or how I’m starting a new chapter in my life –which is great so far, by the way.– However, I’m not going to. Instead, I will discuss a topic that hasn’t been able to escape from my mind for the last two weeks. It happened the night before I moved…

After finally completing my packing, I used the last few hours I had left in Vermont to meet up with a few of my best friends from high school. Although I had been extremely close with these girls for most of my life, we had started to drift our separate ways over the past few years. I was away at school, they were taking classes at colleges close to home. They were content and comfortable with the area that they knew so well, I wanted nothing to do with the town in which I grew up. Now, they are building houses, getting married, having babies, and falling into what is, to me, the “trap” of a small town.

Don’t get me wrong, it was great to see my old friends. That’s the definition of a true friendship, after all: when people can go months –or years– without exchanging a single word, but they’re able to meet up and have everything fall right back into place. That’s how it was for us. We shared stories and I was caught up on everyone’s lives. I held my friend’s baby for the first time, I heard about two of my friends’ engagement accounts, and we all became very excited as we discussed my friend’s upcoming wedding. We didn’t talk about weekend plans or job hunts or hopes and dreams for the future like I would typically discuss with my friends from college. We didn’t even really touch on the subject of me moving, besides a few murmurs of “Wow, that’s awesome” and “Good for you.”

Fork in the road

All in all, when people want different things it’s hard to relate to one another. My old friends and I have 18 years of memories to keep us together, but our futures are beginning to veer off into completely different directions. A few years ago, I guess after we graduated from high school, we all came to the same fork in the road. I just happened to take a right, while others turned left. I love these girls and I’m so glad that they’re happy with where their lives are going. But deep down, all I can think is Thank.God.That’s.Not.Me.

 

 
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