It's personal.

Dear 27,
It's been 21 days since my last post. I haven't felt much like writing, truthfully. So much good has happened. In fact today I my heart feels full of the people and places and moments that this fine city has graciously granted me. I have been trying to capture my 27th year in an honest and interesting way, as my warmhearted friend Chelsea said today "like a journal." With only a month left in a year that will truly go down as one of my favorites, I really should be writing more. (Especially if I want to be a Juice blogger.)

But amidst so much good, an unthinkable tragedy has rocked me and many close to Ashley. At a time when I was ready to leave this place (yes. The same city I praised and have grown to love dearly) and runaway from all that was troubling me, I met Ashley. Both serving on the YPC Board in 2009 she sent me a brief, but charming email asking if I'd like to meet for coffee or drinks to get to know one another. We bonded over rum drinks and from there a friendship grew. When she learned of my pending plans of fleeing Des Moines she made it her personal mission to both keep me in here and brighten my days. We shared lunches, met often for pedicures (a ritual we both took very seriously) and celebrated birthdays and mid-week meals with the same excitement. She was gentle and kind, the glow of her grin truly lit a room. She was honest, supportive, graceful and she'd surprise you with how funny she could be. She pushed herself to be great, but made it look effortless. I know she'd be upset with me for complimenting her so much. She never wanted much fuss made about her.

And now I'm writing this. In the Starbucks. On Easter Sunday. Still in my trench coat because even though it's April it's cold.

It's happened twice since that Friday. I've picked up the Blackberry to tell her how Doug sang Sweet Child of Mine and broke out some smooth dance moves or how I needed my toes polished, stat. I've looked through the pictures of she and my dad pairing up for the birthday beer pong tournament and laughed until it turned to tears. I suppose these bits of life I'd have shared with her will come up often, and that she's somewhere laughing with me, but I'm overwhelmed by feelings. I've been feeling a lot of feelings. (Which I realize to the 5 of you who will read this is no surprise. I'm a feelings kind of person.)

I'm angry and having spent very little of my 27 years even mad about something, I'm not even sure how exactly anger is supposed to feel. I'm sad in a way that no one ever hopes to feel. I find myself using the f-word an extra lot, sleeping more and losing my appetite. I obsessively read the news longing for some sort of answers, some kind of closure, anything really.
But the sun still comes up in the morning. I regain a little focus everyday. I have been moved by the many people who've comforted me, sent me a pizza in the mail (packed in dry ice- awesome) offered condolences, and just sat with me quietly.
Ashley would read the blog while she was working in the model during her downtime. I'd get occasional emails asking when I did this or that or why I didn't call her first. Then over lunch she'd want all the details I left out in the post, or for me to schedule the next outing when she could make it because she really wanted to appear on the blog.

She reminded me often she was proud of me. (In fact, she was one who made sure this happened.) In a way, she's responsible for me staying here. Ashley reminded me to give the city a chance, to push myself to be great. As this city continues to bless me, I'll continue to thank you my friend.
xo-LP