For this edition of WTF Wednesday I do not know where to start. First of all, productivity is low today due to the fact that I am so busy ‘liking’ and ‘loving’ all of the kind words everyone is sending my way on social media. Why? Because, today, March 29, marks thirty-three years this world has been blessed with my presence! No, don’t worry this won’t be a gratuitous post where I make you feel bad that you didn’t get me anything for my birthday and then I tell you that I am eyeing this super cute pale purple Kate Spade purse and that you can absolutely send it to me as a belated birthday gift. I mean, that’d be so gross of me right? Oh, you want to se what it looks like? It’s just this little lilac number right here.
Ha, ok she’s adorable but not 100% necessary in my life! Anyway, what is necessary is that I have to say that birthdays make me feel so hashtag grateful and blessed. Honestly, eff the haters and the cliches. I really feel that I am the luckiest to have such an amazing family that lives just a short two hours away. They threw me the sweetest little pool birthday party this past weekend. My Dad, of course, made the best steaks ever and my mom made me the yummiest cupcakes that I’m sure my Dad is working on polishing off! I continue said lucky streak with a brother and sister-in-law who are always there for me, cousins who I consider to be some of my closest friends,and girlfriends all across the country and even in my apartment, who are more like family to me than friends.
Thirty-two was personally a fun year (let’s agree to not talk about all of that other junk that happened last year), I went on amazing trips to see my friends and we explored Las Vegas, Disneyland, San Diego, Santa Monica, all of Los Angeles and more! I collected some of the most amazing stories from these travels and really awesome Instagram posts. Last year, when I was on the train from San Diego back to Los Angeles I sat next to the most wonderful woman; she was quiet and thoughtful with her words and changed my life in a quick 2 hour train ride. After a few back and forth niceties when she first sat down, we both went on about the trip, me playing on my laptop and her enjoying her lunch. At one point, she stopped to tap me on the shoulder to get my attention. She asked where I was going and what was I up to.
A quick snap and an Insta from my seat on the train ride back to Los Angeles.
Barb was her name, and after I shared with her that I had just spent a few days visiting a college friend, I was headed back to L.A. to finish out my week and a half long vacation. She, too, was on her way up to the area to go to her 70th high school reunion with her girlfriends. My headphones were immediately out of my ears, laptop packed up and put away as I turned to face Barb. I had a LOT of questions, first: WHAT? She laughed and started in on the story of her life. She moved a lot growing up, something that she and I had in common, even both hailing from right out side of New York City. As a child, her family owned a beautiful home in St. Louis that was eventually turned over to the city as a historical landmark, perfect for young children to visit on a school field trip. I would know, because I, too, lived in St. Louis for a few short years when I was younger and everyone knew about the Historic Hanley House in Clayton, Mo.
She went on to tell me about how she and her husband divorced when she was young and though it was taboo she knew she needed to move on, if she was not in love, to continue to provide a happy and healthy life for her son. She never remarried but never felt remotely sad as she told me her life was full of love. Her son, by the way, had been the one to drop her off at the train station to see her off. So clearly, she did something right.
Barbara went on to tell me stories about being a single working mom and how she and her son eventually moved to American Samoa when he was just 9 so she could continue her passion of teaching and provide an enriching life to her son. She was animated and when she spoke she would say my name back to me, “Now, Erika are you passionate about your job?” “Erika, is your career fulfilling you and making you happy?” “Erika, your family and friends seem so wonderful. And they are so lucky to have you, Erika.” Within minutes she was concerned about me, my life and my happiness; it was everything I could do to not throw my arms around her and attend her high school reunion with her.
My stop that day was right before hers and unfortunately one of the conductors came by to move her to a new seat so they could get her items ready to help her de-train. I will always regret not getting Barbara’s information for she truly changed my life. Our time together was short, but I will never forget what she said to me as she hugged me goodbye “This life is beautiful, yet hard but it is worth living it to the fullest.”
I met back up with my friends later that night and recanted everything I could about Barbara, and each one of my girlfriends got goosebumps, just as I did in retelling the story. Cameron and Ashleigh declared we have a new life motto/hashtag: What would Barbara do? I think Barbara would be really happy to hear that we’re still talking about her almost one year later and that we still reference ‘Babs’ from time to time. So, this WTF Wednesday isn’t about something snarky or anything silly; it’s about turning 33 and continuing to dedicate myself to ensuring that this life is beautiful, hard and lived to the fullest.
And as I sit here, my third delivery of flowers have arrived from some of the most amazing people in my life. I’m a crying hot mess and am trying to not ruin my makeup as I have a happy hour tonight with some friends. So, I guess I can say WTF (Wednesday), how ever did I get so lucky?
Thank you for all the love today wherever you sent it, Facebook, Instagram, Text, Snapchat and more! I literally love you all, seriously.