Four Is The New Two

Four is the new two.

No, I’m not referring to pants sizes, although I do think there have been some great stories in the media lately about body image that reinforce the fact that you don’t have to be a size zero…but more on that later.

I’m also not talking about the furry, four-legged, man’s best friend that can often be a better companion and snuggler than other humans.

By “four is the new two,” I’m referring to the fact that my tolerance for driving long distances has greatly improved since I moved to North Carolina.

You see, it used to take me almost exactly two hours to drive from my home in Northern Virginia (yes, I’ll capitalize both words like it’s its own state because it really is different from other parts of Virginia) to JMU in Harrisonburg, VA.  To be honest, I got spoiled by that drive.  Several times each year, for four years, I drove through a scenic and not-too-busy highway out of Northern Virginia and then hopped on the interstate for barely over an hour until I saw a huge, purple stadium poke out of the mountains in the distance, indicating that I had arrived at my university.

Although I’ve moved around a few times, I’m a Virginian at heart.  Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful drives in the state is through the Shenandoah Valley.  As you pass rolling hills and rural areas, you can see mountains in the distance, and the view goes on for what seems like miles.

Shenandoah Valley Sunset

Shenandoah Valley Sunset

Up until recently, I could drive for just two hours, take in the gorgeous surroundings, and arrive at my purple and gold home where my friends also lived.  That two-hour drive quickly turned into four solid hours after I moved to North Carolina, and my driving tolerance improved as it now takes six hours to get to my home in Northern Virginia.

A couple weekends ago, I left town and saw some college friends in Harrisonburg to break up my six-hour drive home.  The long weekend was awesome and consisted of: getting lunch with my good friend and roommate of two years; playing with my favorite four-legged friend, a beagle mix that belongs to my sister and her husband; going to a vineyard with my parents, best friend from high school, and her roommate from college; trying out a new restaurant with my parents; hanging out and watching movies with my entire family when my sister and her husband were back in town; and getting breakfast food from my favorite bagel place at nearly 2pm with my best friend from college, hearing about her Master’s program, and seeing her new townhouse.

People who are close to me know that I like to pack my schedule most of the time and know that I truly value my friendships.  All in all, I spent about 12 hours driving roundtrip, but it was completely worth it.  After being out of college and on my own for a few months now, I’m finding that you’ll always have time for what’s important to you because you’ll choose to make the time for it.

While driving back through the Shenandoah Valley on the most beautiful, sunny day I could have asked for, I didn’t mind that I had a few hours of driving left.  If my close friends and family aren’t nearby, I’ll drive to get to them.

After all, four is the new two.

~~~

“Almost heaven, west Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River 

Life is old there, older than the trees, younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze”

-John Denver, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”

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Two Weeks’ Notice

What an absolute whirlwind of a Friday!  Due to a coworker’s birthday that we decorated for starting at 7:30 am and tons of things that went on during the afternoon, the day started early and ended late.  From helium tanks and birthday decorations and ping pong games to serious talks about the future, changes, and new beginnings, I’m realizing how deep my roots are becoming here.

That’s the thing, though.  You start to get settled and realize how quickly things around you change.  Maybe it’s just because I’m a recent grad who’s not fully adjusted to the “real world” yet, but I still can’t quite fathom the whole “two weeks’ notice” thing.  Up until very recently, most of my close friends were ones I went to college with, and if they were my year, we essentially had all of college together if we met as freshmen.  Even if someone were three years older than me and I met her in the spring of my freshman year, I still knew she’d definitely be there until she graduated in May.  It’s strange to be told by someone that she’ll be gone in two weeks, rather than getting at least a semester’s worth of notice.

All Endings Are Also Beginnings

The working world – and the advertising world in particular, which is incredibly fast-paced and always changing – is quite different.  I’ve been at my job for almost three months, and I’ve already learned a huge amount about the industry, the structure of my agency in particular, and everything that goes into the day-to-day responsibilities of my job.  I’ve seen the agency win new business pitches, which is really exciting.  I met all of our summer interns, got to know a few of them, and then watched as most of them returned to their hometowns or universities for their last year of college as the summer came to an end.  I’ve met new people as they’ve joined the agency, and I’ve learned about a wide variety of businesses as I am assigned additional projects and clients.  At first, there was so much to learn and I remember that it felt like I was drinking from a fire hose, overwhelmed with the amounts of information and data available to me and expected of me to understand.  I’m definitely getting the hang of my job as time passes, yet am acutely aware of how quickly things can and do change.

I think the strangest part of it all is that, up to this point, life was “laid out” in a way.  I had a few years of preschool, and then from kindergarten through fifth grade, I went to elementary school.  Middle school was sixth through eighth grades, and high school was ninth through twelfth.  I had always planned to go to college, so it was a little bit difficult to choose where to go, but once I had made that decision, the plan was to get my degree in four years.  My four years just finished, and this move to a new state to take a job was the first event in a long time that had been very unknown and much more up to me to decide.  At graduation, our class president said something similar in her speech – that after graduating, our life is less planned out for us, and that when we’re “supposed” to stop and start a new job or big stage of life, it won’t be as obvious as an acceptance letter in the mail congratulating us on our next four(ish) years at JMU.

What I’m learning from all this is that change is inevitable.  Appreciate what you have, but don’t be afraid of change, because with change also comes growth and the opening of new doors.

~~~

“The only thing that is constant is change.”

-Heraclitus

The Catchphrase of Third Grade

“Ms. Wagner stole our new girl!”

This is what you could call the catchphrase of third grade – at least for me.  I heard this a lot, spoken by whiny third graders, right after I moved from Richmond, VA to St. Louis, MO in the middle of the school year.  I was originally supposed to be in Ms. Petterson’s third grade class, but she had been out a lot and had a long-term sub, so the principal decided that it would be better to put me in Ms. Wagner’s class so I could get to know my teacher quickly.  However, Ms. Petterson’s class had already been told that they were getting a new student, so when plans changed, a lot of nine-year-olds thought it was unfair since they were apparently looking forward to having the “new girl.”

Third grade is nice that way; even though as we get older, we sometimes look forward to changes and new experiences, kids seem to be more excited about the prospect of making new friends.  Before I moved away from Richmond, I was in Ms. Rosypal’s class, and we were learning to write in cursive.  We had only gotten through some of the letters by the time it hit March and I was about to leave, but because I was moving to St. Louis and because sweet, third grade teachers are accommodating to their students, Ms. Rosypal taught the whole class how to write an uppercase “S” so we could all practice writing “St. Louis” in cursive.  I’m quite certain Ms. Rosypal doesn’t remember doing this, but I do, and it’s definitely the little things that often mean the most.

After moving, I remember being welcomed by everyone in Ms. Wagner’s class, and being well-known by everyone in Ms. Petterson’s class, since I was “stolen” from them.  It was that year that I learned to play four-square on the blacktop at recess, and played the computer game “Oregon Trail” with classmates when we had free time between lessons (not sure if anyone else played the game, but you’d form a group of people and try to virtually build a camp and gather enough food while on the Oregon Trail, and eventually group members would get sick or injured or run out of food.  I don’t think we ever won the game, meaning we all eventually died, and thinking about it now, it wasn’t a very happy game to be playing as a third grader…but we loved it anyway).

Melissa With Violin

Elementary-Aged Me Playing My Violin

I remember bringing in my violin for “show and tell” and correcting my friend a little too pretentiously when he mistook the shoulder rest for the chin rest.  We laughed about that later because we became close friends in middle school, stayed in touch throughout high school and college after I had moved to another city, and even got to see each other in Europe while we were both studying abroad last year.

Despite all of the fun memories, I also remember being miserable when it came to multiplication tables.  While my school in Virginia began in September and went through mid-June, my new elementary school in Missouri had begun in mid-August and went through May.  This meant I was behind in some of the lessons, including multiplication.  I remember doing “times tables” in Missouri and having only a couple minutes to solve a grid of simple multiplication problems, being horrible at it since I hadn’t learned enough about how to multiply quickly, and hating the feeling of being behind.

Was it my fault that I couldn’t keep up?  Not really, and no one was really to blame.  My new teacher helped me out with catching up and I eventually did just fine.  Even then, my nine-year-old self experienced a learning curve, and it took me a little while to get the hang of my new class, my new school, and my new home.  Despite the obstacles, there were so many great aspects about that new part of my life.

When starting out in the “real world” and in a new job, there is most definitely a learning curve, and it includes more than just doing multiplication quickly.  As I settle in to my new job, my new home, and my new life in North Carolina, I have to remind myself that I’ll run into challenges that frustrate me, and that I’ll sometimes feel like I’m the new kid who’s slower at multiplication than everyone else.  If it wasn’t for my move in third grade, though, I would have missed out on a lot of great experiences, like learning new things, getting familiar with a new place, and making new friends.

Just like that move, this one happened for a reason.  Again, I’m learning new things, getting familiar with a new place, and making new friends.  And just like that move, I can confidently say that despite the obstacles, there are so many great aspects about this new part of my life.

~~~

“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.”

-Paulo Coelho

Video Distribution & Second Screen

In this day and age, we’re so easily connected via technology, social platforms, and wireless Internet, yet it’s so difficult for us to focus solely on one thing at a time.  As technology has progressed, our attention spans have gotten shorter and our patience has gotten worse as we crave things more and more immediately.

At work last week, a few of my coworkers gave a presentation on video distribution and the second screen.  They started off by talking about the main three on-demand media providers – Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime – and the differences between each including shows offered and prices charged.  The presentation turned into more of a discussion, and we talked about how far technology has come and how net neutrality has become a hot topic.  Essentially, net neutrality says that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data equally, rather than charging different people different amounts based on the content they view, the sites they visit, the device on which they do so, etc.  Reuters goes into depth and better explains the net neutrality debate.  This issue affects how Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and any other media provider can charge its customers.

My coworkers explained that, eventually, cable providers will limit the amount of data an individual can watch on his personal TV.  When this happens, the pricing structure will change and instead of there being a fixed monthly rate for cable, there will be many factors that go into the total price per month, much like a cell phone bill that accounts for calls, text messages, and other data usage.  Don’t get too comfortable because, clearly, technology (and how we pay for it) is changing right before our eyes.

Second Screen

The second half of the presentation was focused on the “second screen,” which refers to using a tablet or smart phone in order to enhance a TV viewing experience.  According to a New York Times article about the second screen, “more than 80 percent of smartphone and tablet owners use their devices while watching television.”  My coworkers explained that “meshing” refers to using devices to engage with TV, like looking up the bio of a contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance” while watching the show.  “Stacking,” on the other hand, is completely unrelated, and refers to multitasking by engaging with nonrelated content.  I’m definitely guilty of stacking, and I think almost everyone has half-watched a TV show while making dinner, texting a friend, or adding to their Pinterest boards.

Anyway, the importance of the second screen is that advertisers are now trying to tie TV ads and mobile ads together.  Additionally, Disney has used the second screen as a way to provide a more interactive movie experience, especially for younger kids.  In fall 2013, Disney re-released “The Little Mermaid” in theaters and had certain showings during which kids could use a Disney iPad app to “play games, compete with other participants in the theater, and sing along with the music as the story unfolds.”

It will be interesting to see the future of cable and on-demand media and how changes in net neutrality and the second screen will affect TV as we know it.

~~~

“Second screen isn’t a trend to watch; it’s a living, breathing phenomenon that’s already arrived.”

-Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

Where Words Fail, Music Speaks

Music has always been a big part of my life.  While growing up, I was in several bands, orchestras, and choirs over the years, and I strongly believe that my involvement in music positively shaped who I am today.  I was in JMU’s marching band for all four years of college, and I thought about the Marching Royal Dukes (MRDs) quite a few times last week since some of my MRD friends were on the staff helping out with JMU Summer Band Camps, a summer camp for high school students involved in marching band.

Almost everything I put on this blog will be content hot off the press (er, keyboard).  However, I wanted to post something that reflects my experience with the MRDs and with music as a whole.  The piece that I thought described that best is something I wrote in February, while still at JMU, as part of a scholarship I received this past spring.  The prompt to this particular question read, “Discuss a special attribute or accomplishment that sets you apart,” and this was my response.  To every violin teacher, band director, and choir director I’ve had over the years, thank you for your instruction, for your patience, and for the opportunity to grow.

~~~

Discuss a special attribute or accomplishment that sets you apart.

Nearly 500 of us stand on the football field, completely still.  A booming voice over the loudspeaker breaks the silence: “And now, presenting Virginia’s Finest, the James Madison University Marching Royal Dukes!”  As we blast the audience with an incredibly loud, powerful first note, I am reminded why I love being in this phenomenal organization.

When I first committed to JMU, I decided to sign up for the marching band, the Marching Royal Dukes.  I had found my niche in musical settings multiple times growing up, from beginning private violin lessons in Richmond at age seven, to participating in the Rockwood Honors Orchestra in fifth grade after moving to St. Louis, MO.  I joined middle school band in sixth grade and learned how to play trumpet, and later made the decision to do marching band at my new high school after moving from St. Louis to Leesburg, VA in ninth grade.  Throughout high school, although I was involved in several activities, band was my main focus.  During my junior and senior year, I was chosen as one of two drum majors in my high school’s marching band, so I spent each halftime performance and band competition conducting, rather than playing trumpet.  My experiences as drum major shaped me as a leader and gave me confidence as I headed to college.

After committing to JMU, I struggled with whether or not to join the marching band.  I knew that it would be a huge time commitment and wasn’t sure if, as a business major, I really wanted to focus on music during college.  After some thought, I decided that I would sign up and do band during my first semester.  I figured that if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to do it again, but that if I didn’t sign up now, I never would.

Long story short, here I am, a senior and four-year member of the Marching Royal Dukes (MRDs).  I loved my first year as an MRD and knew that – despite the long, hot practices during band camp in August, and the freezing cold practices preparing for the holiday parade in December – I would be silly to give up such a unique opportunity and leave such a phenomenal organization just because I wanted to sleep in on Saturday mornings instead of waking up early for rehearsals.  As a Marketing major, marching in the largest collegiate marching band in the country for all four years of college – as well as holding a leadership position within the band (and being the only non-Music major on the trumpet leadership team) for two years – certainly sets me apart from the average business major.

For four years, I’ve woken up early for Saturday morning rehearsals when other people have gone out with friends the night before and slept in on Saturday until noon.  I’ve marched in the August heat, the pouring rain, and the freezing cold.  I’ve returned to JMU in mid-August for band camp while most JMU students are still on summer vacation.

Why do I do it?

Through marching band, I’ve met some of the most hardworking and generous people at this university.  Through playing trumpet, I met my best friend and my roommate.  Because of band, I got to perform in Lane Stadium and go crazy with all of the other JMU fans when JMU beat Virginia Tech my freshman year.  I got to travel to London with the band my freshman year and perform in a New Year’s Day Parade.  This past November, I went with the band to New York City and performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  At every home football game for four years, I got to perform at halftime and postgame with some of the best musicians I’ve ever met.  Playing trumpet in the JMU Marching Royal Dukes has taught me musicianship, discipline, and dedication, and has allowed me to be part of something so much bigger than myself.  I can’t imagine my Madison Experience without it, and I know that I will treasure memories of performing with this organization for the rest of my life.

JMU Trumpet Seniors at Our Last Game

JMU Trumpet Seniors at Our Last Game

~~~

“Where words fail, music speaks.”

-Hans Christian Andersen

Thank You Notes I Can Never Write

Between talk of the USA/Belgium soccer game this Tuesday and photos from around the globe that JMU friends have been posting from their study abroad adventures, I’ve been thinking a lot about my study abroad semester in Belgium.  Even though I was there over a year ago for only three months (and country hopping most weekends), the experience will stick with me for the rest of my life and I can’t wait until the next time I get to go abroad again!

Our First Belgian Waffles

Our First Belgian Waffles

I learned a lot about Belgian culture while there:  the northern part of the country (where we were) speaks Flemish, a dialect of Dutch, and the southern part speaks French…although pretty much everyone knows English, thankfully, or it would have been much more difficult to get around.  Brussels, Belgium is the head of the European Union.  Belgium has the best chocolate, beer (super strong), and waffles (“Belgian waffles” in the U.S. are nothing like real waffles from Belgium).  It’s cold and rains very often, and when it isn’t raining it’s usually still cloudy.  There are many cobblestone streets and beautiful cathedrals.  Coffee and speculoos cookies are served often.  The country itself is very centrally-located.  By train, it only takes an hour to go from Antwerp to Amsterdam, and only two to go from Antwerp to Paris.

During all of our travels between Belgium and other European countries, we learned to ask locals we didn’t know for directions when we were lost, and as time passed, we got more comfortable asking random people to take pictures for us.  It hit me that many people we came across or met were ones we’d likely never see again.  There are a few people in particular who helped us out that I’d love to thank again.  Because I don’t know the names of most of them and have no way of contacting them, I figured I’d explain my thank yous right here to give myself the pleasure of reminiscing on such a crazy and awesome experience and to encourage anyone reading this to think about whether they have similar “thank you notes they can never write.”

LONDON, ENGLAND/BRUSSELS, BELGIUM:  Of course on our first weekend trip without the whole group, there were problems with the train, it got delayed, and we missed the last train from Brussels to Antwerp on our way back from London.  Since we got back late, there was barely anyone in the Brussels train station (and no one manning the informational/help desk areas).  We finally found a woman who worked there and could give us more information, but she only spoke Dutch.  Thankfully, some nice Belgian girls who were also stuck translated it for us and we were able to get a cab and take it back to our place in Antwerp.  They definitely deserve a thank you because without them, we would have been stranded in the wrong train station for much longer.

PARIS, FRANCE:  The weekend after London, we went to Paris.  It was over Valentine’s Day weekend with two of my best friends and we were lucky enough to have beautiful weather the entire trip.  We quickly realized that the stereotype of the French not liking Americans was true and that if we were asking a question, it was absolutely necessary to say “Bonjour” and THEN “Excuse me,” not the other way around, if we wanted to avoid making people super angry.  Not everyone was rude by any means, though.  In fact, there are three groups of people that I’d like to thank from our Paris trip.

Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles

The first thank you goes out to three college guys from Brevard who navigated the confusing French “Metropolitan” system with us as we struggled to get on the correct train to get to the Palace of Versailles.  Thanks to them, we also got some pictures with the gorgeous background of the palace.

The second thank you is to the hilarious American-but-living-on-a-military-base-right-outside-London woman who befriended us and drank wine with us while waiting in line at the Eiffel Tower.  We didn’t get any pictures with her, but I’ll forever have memories of the funniest line I’ve ever waited in.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

The last Paris thank you is for the girl (also a tourist visiting the Eiffel Tower) who took this awesome photo for us when we asked her to get a picture of us with the Eiffel Tower behind us.  She had this cool idea for a sweet angle and here’s how it turned out.

DUBLIN, IRELAND:  First of all, we should definitely thank the nice Irish man who explained to us how to get to the tram so we could get into the city center to get on a bus tour.  We followed the vague directions from our hotel receptionist but got super confused and would have never found the station had we not come across this guy.

The biggest thank you by far goes out to the Paddywagon bus tour guy who turned our entire day around.  We got on the tram and made it into the city, but it was the slowest tram ever, and so after sprinting through Dublin’s city center (which none of us had ever been to), we found that our tour bus had left without us since we were running late.  We had pre-paid for the all-day bus tour and therefore hadn’t planned what to do with our day since we didn’t plan on missing the bus.  This nice guy told us that there were a few open seats on a tour of the same price going to Northern Ireland instead of the coast and the Cliffs of Moher, which was the destination of our original tour bus.  He let us hop on the bus, which is where we met a couple other Americans and got to go to Titanic Belfast (which was one of the ports of the Titanic) once we were in Northern Ireland.  The most Northern point on Earth I’ve been to is now Belfast, Ireland.  We never would have done any of that if it wasn’t for the nice Paddywagon guy.

Titanic Belfast

Titanic Belfast

ROME, ITALY:  We had more train trouble before we even got out of Belgium and onto our plane to Italy – our train lost power for a while but we eventually got it back, took a “rapid taxi” to the airport (guess I should thank the taxi driver for getting us there as fast as humanly possible without killing us), and eventually made it to Rome.

These thank yous are a little more vague than some others, but this trip became awesome due to a few people we met along the way.  We got along super well with our hostel roommate, Jacob, and were ecstatic when we learned that he not only spoke English but was Canadian (our first Canadian friend!) and had been in Rome for a while and knew what to tell us was worth seeing.  I was also spoken to in Italian twice in the 48 hours we were there by Italian people who thought I was also Italian.  Pretty cool, so thanks, guys…or, I guess I should say “grazie!”

Rome

Rome

We tried to pack in every Italian thing possible in 48 hours, and we did a pretty good job of it between eating gelato, pasta, pizza, and wine; tossing coins in the Trevi Fountain; visiting the Spanish Steps; getting a glimpse at the Pantheon; spending time in the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica (which is GORGEOUS); and more.  In between running around all over Rome, we stopped for coffee.  I’d like to thank the guy who made our lattes at this cute little coffee shop in Rome and applaud him on his talents of writing “Rome” in cursive with raspberry and chocolate syrup.

The trip would have been incomplete without a visit to the Colosseum, but we got there barely before it closed, so my friend Hayley and I sprinted to the Roman Forum to wait in line for tickets while our friend Katie stayed at the main ticket place, and by dividing and conquering, we were able to get tickets just minutes before they stopped selling them for the day.  In this case, I’ll thank Hayley and Katie for being determined, quick thinkers, and fast sprinters.  We proceeded to take in the vastness of the Colosseum and take a ton of pictures.

Colosseum

Colosseum

BRUSSELS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – BRUSSELS, BELGIUM:  My study abroad semester finally came to an end after three months of traveling all over the place, learning the culture of Belgium, and sleeping very little.  One of the nicest deeds I remember most vividly from being abroad was by the sweet lady at the Brussels airport who weighed my suitcase before putting a tag on it.  After getting a maximum of two hours of sleep the night before thanks to tearing up Antwerp one last time with my study abroad group, I almost couldn’t find my passport in the morning before we left for the airport and I clearly wasn’t thinking straight.  She told me my suitcase was a little overweight, which threw me off because the numbers on the scale looked fine to me…until I realized it was in kilograms, not pounds.

I immediately began thinking about clothes I could take out and layer over what I was already wearing and asked Hayley if there was room in her suitcase, despite the fact that I had already stuffed all sorts of things in her bag that morning when they wouldn’t fit in my own.  The lady said she’d let it go even though it was over the weight limit, put the sticker on the bag, and placed it on the carousel behind her.

No scrambling to put on even more layers in an attempt to lighten up my bag.  No paying an extra fine for having an overweight bag.  No being told my suitcase would not be put on the plane.  I doubt that lady remembers telling me it was fine, but I’m so thankful and happy that she let it slide.

~~~

I’m sure there are even more people to thank, but those are ones that come to mind immediately.  These are thank you notes I can never write and send, since I will likely never see these people again, but their actions left a lasting impression on me in several countries and all different scenarios.  I am very thankful and will continue to pay the kindness forward.

~~~

 “Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.”

-Michael Palin

Growing Up & Crying Over Netflix

Thanks to Netflix, I’ve slowly been making my way through all nine seasons of “The Office.”  It’s such an off-the-wall show, but I’ve grown to love the characters and all of the crazy things that happen at the office.  The episode I watched tonight was Michael Scott’s last day at the office before moving to Colorado to be with Holly.  The “party planning committee” works to put together a goodbye party for him, but Michael plans to leave at 4pm that day, despite telling everyone that it is his second-to-last day.

Michael writes down the name of everyone at the office, and plans to give each person a piece of advice, a gift, or just share kind words with them before he goes.  Toward the end of the day, Jim realizes Michael is leaving that day for good and as Michael gets teary-eyed, Jim reassures him that he’s not making a mistake and tells him he’s the best boss he’s ever had.  The only person Michael doesn’t get a chance to talk to before leaving the office is Pam, who runs after him in the airport to say goodbye before he boards his plane.  Right after they talk, Pam’s makeup is smeared from crying but she says that Michael wasn’t sad – he was looking forward to going home and seeing Holly.

To say I teared up once during the episode would be an understatement.

In addition to the fact that “The Office” is funny, well-written, and has developed each character so carefully and thoroughly that the audience feels like she knows each one personally, the episode hit home because, in a way, I felt like Michael leaving his familiar office and town.  I’ve been on both sides of it – I’ve been the one to move away, and I’ve also had friends who have moved away.  More often than not, though, I’ve been the one to move.  As of now, I’ve lived in three different states and six different cities (if you count Harrisonburg as one since I was at JMU for four years).  Going to a new place is always bittersweet because while you’re excited for new adventures, it’s sad to leave the familiar place and people you’re used to seeing every day.

Speaking of people I used to see every day, yesterday was my friend Abby’s birthday.  Abby and I were roommates for the first two years of college, and although we didn’t see each other super frequently during junior and senior year, we made a point to get lunch or coffee, or just hang out and catch up when we had a chance.  Right after we finished final exams in May, Abby and I had lunch together and went back to our freshman year dorm to reminisce about the beginning of college and all of the funny memories we had as roommates.  I posted a Pic Stitch and a message on Abby’s Facebook wall for her birthday about all of the fun times we had together, and said, “I hope we keep our friendship going even though we’ll likely live in different cities for most of our lives.”

Abby and Me

Abby and Me

It sounds kind of sad, but it’s true.  I’m realizing as I get older that friends I’ve met from high school, college, and activities I’ve been part of throughout the years will be in all different places.  This time, though, we aren’t moving with our entire families, like I did growing up – we’re moving on our own.  On one hand, it sucks to not have some of your closest friends by your side, but on the other, being in a new place allows you to meet so many new people.  As friends of mine move to new places, I’ll get even better at keeping in touch with people and I’ll have friends in several different cities and states, which makes traveling that much more fun.

Although Michael Scott and everyone at the office are fictional characters, the fact that time keeps moving forward, people move, and things change is a true fact.  In a way, “The Office” is like college; Michael moving to Colorado is the beginning of many changes for that group of people, just like graduation marked the beginning of an entirely new chapter of my life, and was the start of big changes for many people in my group of friends.  Every day is an adventure, and although it can be scary, making a big decision and taking a chance could be life-changing in the very best way.

~~~

Michael Scott:  “Why am I so sad?  Am I doing the wrong thing?”

Jim Halpert:  “Absolutely not.  It’s just that sometimes… goodbyes are a bitch.”