If I Won The Lottery

Okay, fine, I didn’t win the Powerball jackpot — if I did, I would’ve disappeared from social media and holed up with a lawyer somewhere. Instead, here I am…blogging about what I would’ve done if I had won. (Seriously, Universe, I would’ve settled for like a $100 million.)

♦Pay off all my student loans. And Nick’s student loans. And maybe my brother’s, if he was nice.
♦Pay off our cars.
♦Buy nice apartments in all of my favorite cities (Miami, New York, Philadelphia…)
♦New furniture (especially giant mattresses) and wood flooring everywhere.
♦Actually buy something from Everlane.
♦Travel…pretty much everywhere. First up would have to be London, Cuba or Thailand.
♦Donate to some of my favorite organizations.
♦Hire a personal trainer and nutritionist so I could indulge in my favorite meals the rest of the time.
♦Try to convince Nick that we need a third dog since we can afford an on-call dogsitter.
♦Save some (ugh, boring) and share some (yay!).

Anyone else still have big lottery dreams?

~ Sarah

Driving Lessons & Resolutions

It’s been a long time since I’ve come up with concrete resolutions. Last spring, I chose to focus on two words for 2015: push and trust. Even though I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to last year (which is fine — not everything is in my control), I think I ended the year more confidently than I began it.

The biggest change? I’m a licensed driver now! Living in New York, I felt like I had so much freedom — I could hop on the bus or subway and basically go anywhere. I lost that when I moved to Philadelphia; the public transit here is not up to par, especially in the neighborhood where I live. Driving is an unfortunate necessity, and a skill I never learned. In high school, I was in two minor car accidents (one in which a driver ran a red light and hit our car in an intersection, the other in which I hit a mailbox when trying to pull into a driveway). Afterwards, I took drivers’ ed, but if anything that made more scared of driving. 2015 was the year I was finally ready to change that. I signed up for one-on-one driving lessons (not cheap, but worth it) and was ready to take the test. I was practicing on the actual morning of my drivers test when I totaled Nick’s carliterally outside the testing center. Everyone was okay, thankfully, but the car was not.

Why am I writing about this lowlight on the Internet? Well, instead of curling up in a ball and being scared to go near a car, I knew I had to start practicing again immediately. Granted, I had more issues to work on (both mental and technical — the accident happened because I didn’t break fast enough), but I knew I had to get to work. After having a learner’s permit for 9 years (that’s 2006!), I finally passed my driving test, parallel parking and all. It wasn’t easy, and I’m still learning a lot even though I drive to the subway everyday, but I had to trust my ability and push myself to actually get it done.

If learning to drive was the only thing I accomplished in 2015, I’d be happy. But other awesome stuff happened too!

(Also, I’m really glad I blog, because I couldn’t remember all of those off the top of my head!)

That being said, I think it’s time I get back to more concrete goals. After some reflection, this is what I’ve come up with for this year:

2016 Resolutions | Shades of Sarah

I think these are all pretty self-explanatory, but I’m actually excited about them! I also think they’re generally pretty doable — sure, “spending less lunches at my desk” might be vague, but it’s something I want to work on. Care to share any of yours? Or do you go for mantras instead?

~ Sarah

It’s Where The Heart Is

I was uprooted last December.

Weston FL

I was excited to be back in South Florida celebrating Christmas after a one-year hiatus when I found out that my parents — divorced over 10 years, but always living within 10 minutes of each other — were moving back to their respective home countries. They were both living in Latin America by February. All of a sudden, Christmas 2014 became my last Christmas at home, for real this time. (Not “my last Christmas at home before college, x, y, or z.”)

Not only did I have to essentially mourn the loss of my parents’ proximity to me, but I also had to mourn the loss of my hometown. Yes, it’s still there to visit, but it won’t be the same. I don’t know when I’ll be back, and when I am, I won’t get to stay at my mom’s house, or in my childhood bedroom. Those roots are gone. It’s a moment I knew would eventually come, but I wasn’t expecting at 24.

Now, I’m really not sure what “home” means. My place of origin will always be Florida. The familiarity is comforting — the friends, the food, the Publix stores, the humidity, the mazes of highways that I can’t drive but are still etched into my mind. But it’s not my home base anymore, and I never necessarily fit into the stereotype: the hustling, the glamour, the swag that South Florida thinks it’s all about.

Is Philly my home? That would imply that I consider myself a Philadelphian, but I don’t. Arguing about what makes someone a “true” Philadelphian (or New Yorker, Miamian, etc.) is neither here nor there, but it’s not a way I choose to identify myself right now.

For me, it keeps coming back to the idea of love and friendship. For the most part, when I’m with my friends — from growing up, or college, or now Philly  — and my family — Nick and Zamboni included — I feel happy and at peace. For now, that feeling is home. I’m laying down roots again, and who knows how long or how deep these will take hold.

Over Colombia

This past Saturday, I flew to see my mom in Colombia: the first time I’m here in four years, the first time I’ve been here since my grandparents passed away, and the first time I’ve been here since my mom made her old home her new home. It’s been less than 48 hours, but it feels different. Some of the places and faces have changed, and I have a new place to call home (for a week): my mom’s apartment, where I can be myself and speak English as freely as I want.

On the trip down, I had the briefest of layovers at the Miami airport. It felt completely foreign to my body — I’ve never had the need for a layover there in my life. It was always the start of my adventure or my final stop, not a stepping stone. I spent most of my time back in Miami waiting in line at a Cafe Versailles stand. The guava pastelito I bought, that tasted like home too.