Dang, I’ve really neglected this blog in 2019…probably because I’ve been so damn busy this year! 2019 has been the raddest year in recent history…super stoked to round out the decade with a year like this.
And, yes, apparently I use words like ‘rad’ and ‘stoked’ since moving to Montana. Gahhh!
At the beginning of this year, I was living in Michigan. Remember when I got bangs?
In Feb, I went on an adventure that took me to Denver, LA, and San Diego where I met friends both old and new. Oh, and now I’m moving to Boulder, CO for three months starting in just a few weeks!!
Then, omg I joined a gym FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE to prep for my adventure to Havasupai. Definitely the most challenging trek I’ve ever physically embarked on but holy shit it was incredibly rewarding.
Then, I said goooodbye Michigan at the end of May and embarked on a road trip to my new home in Missoula, Montana. I stopped in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and probably other places.
Oh, and America is weird and beautiful and lovely.
Did I know anybody in Missoula? Nope.
But I wanted a change and I did it and I MADE FRIENDS AND IT WORKED OUT AND OMG IT’S BEEN THE BEST CHOICE I’VE EVER MADE. Admittedly, it wasn’t always easy. I had moments of *did I make an awful mistake?!!* *how will I make REAL, true friends?!* But ladies and gents, it always works out.
I also started volunteering at the local Humane Society and adopted my new bff, Dolores!
This year was all about saying YES and doing things I’ve always wanted to do!
I’ve always wanted to pick up and move somewhere totally new. So I did it. I also tried skiing and STAND-UP COMEDY which I plan to keeeeeep on doing forever because holy heck it’s incredibly fun and I’m a silly goose for now and forever.
Oh, and remember that time I eloped? I finally signed those divorce papers!!!
On top of a mountain, of course.
Also, I discovered there are trees that naturally smell like VANILLA. Liiiike, this was some Charlie and the Chocolate Factory shit and I WAS SHOOOOOK.
Thank you to absolutely everyone for an incredible 2019! I rounded out the year in Ireland with my cousin and I also have a new godson (dog), Biggie! He’s adorable and I love him.
Cheers to 2020! Keep spreading kindness and cheer, xo
Hi! I’m Jackie, I’m 28, and I’m an only child. Err…only-adult? I’m basically Harry Potter. I have a scar on my forehead and everything. Ask me about it later. Or now. Nah, read this first and then ask later. Sidenote: Did anyone actually LIKE Now and Later candy as a child? They were impossible to chew! It was like trying to eat a piece of concrete smothered in glue. So gross.
But I digress.
So, what is only-child guilt?
RIGHT. So, it’s only recently that I’ve realized that I have this “only-child guilt.” It’s weird and I don’t totally understand it and so, naturally, I felt compelled to write about it. Perhaps someone reading this will be like, YES, I GET IT! ME TOO!
*raises fingers and feet and eyebrows*
A writer can only hope.
I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflecting lately…“why I am the way I am” and the whole bit. I mean, I already know that I have OCS (Only Child Syndrome). But, like, all of the good parts of it (independent, studious, extremely loyal) and none of the bad (selfish, bratty, etc.).
Written like a true only child.
I was curious to see if I’d coined the phrase “only-child guilt” – I really want to coin a phrase before I become one with Earth’s volcanic ash, bits of turquoise, and sparkly gems – but alas I didn’t.
In fact, upon Googling, I came across many articles about parents suffering from “only-child guilt.” That is, feeling guilty about having just one child. Well, that’s a bit different because I am not a parent. Rather, I’m a child. An only one. No siblings here. Wait, do dogs count? And on we go!
Only-children are stereotyped as many things…selfish brats who don’t know how to share, play well with others, or share. Did I mention sharing isn’t really our thing? I’m learning. Shh.
In fact, in 1977, psychologist Toni Falbo stated the presence of siblings “is popularly assumed to have both positive and negative effects, but the lack of siblings is believed to have only negative consequences.”
Are you fucking kidding me, Toni?
Being an only child has been quite a positive experience.
DON’T TOUCH MY COOKIES. GET YOUR OWN YOU CRAZY MONSTER!
Deep breaths. There are enough cookies to go around. (We all know there aren’t.)
Growing up, I wasn’t just the only child in my immediate family. I was also the only grandchild on both sides of my family for the first nine years of my life. The only niece. The only nephew.
Wait, that’s not right…
You get it. I was the only baby-toothed rascal in a world of folks who were taller than me. (Spoiler alert: Nothing’s changed except those babies are now adults with fillings and crowns because I’m actually the cookie monster. Shhhh. Root canals are fun!)
I loved it. Being an only child, that is. (Root canals are NOT fun.) I never felt I was missing out by not having a sibling. I’d watch my friends fight with their brothers and sisters and think, Thank GOODNESS I don’t have to deal with that crap! Sharing is most certainly NOT caring!
I promise I’m working on it. Sharing is great. Except don’t touch my cookies. Ever.
SANTA, I’M LOOKING AT YOU.
As an only child, I was the apple, orange, mango, and kiwi of my parents’ eyes. Sometimes a persimmon if I was lucky, but let’s not get greedy. Sure, I was kept in a bit of a protective bubble but I was the only kid my parents had! I mean, wasn’t it fair that my mom didn’t let me join the high school tennis team out of an irrational fear that I’d break my wrist?!
My parents had huge hopes and dreams and goals and all that good stuff for me. And I was the academic nerd who would deliver! Don’t do drugs! Sex equals babies! Babies suck! I’m an only child! Perfection is key! Roar, roar!
It’s a funny thing when you don’t have siblings. You’re not just one of your parent’s kids.
I didn’t take many risks as a kid. I played it safe. I looked both ways before crossing the suburban streets riddled with squirrels and crunchy leaves. I never snuck out of Fort Knox– er, I mean my house. I studied and stayed home reading rather than going out most weekends. I knew that my parents literally lived and worked for me so who was I to do anything daring or rebellious, surely risking death or worse…cataclysmic embarrassment!
I didn’t know it as a youngin’ but all of this craziness would stir into a mad mix of bubbly emotions that I’m now calling “only-child guilt.”
I earned good grades, was admitted into an excellent university, landed an incredible job in my chosen career, and was very much the picture-perfect epitome of what it looked like to “make one’s parents PROUD.” But I felt lost and unhappy a lot… as if I was living a life that wasn’t really mine. It was the one chosen for me. Purchased for me. Ugh, that sounds hella privileged, I KNOW.
Where I grew up, it was common to be told you could do and be anything with the underlying expectation that that really meant moving into the city (New York, that is) and working your way up the corporate ladder of whatever industry to be “successful.”
In having just one child, my dad could afford to put me through college and I’m so grateful for that. I can’t imagine having to pay back student loans on a writer’s salary (we can’t all be Carrie Bradshaw, folks).
But in recent years, I’ve felt this only-child guilt more than ever. I’ve been given so much and felt as though I wasn’t living up to what was expected of me. But climbing some elusive, imaginary ladder seemed so lame! I’d rather climb real mountains! Hoorah!
But then the guilt creeps back…
Why am I not happy where I am?, I thought ALL THE DAMN TIME. I just want to give everything away and go somewhere new and different. Away from everyone and everything I’ve ever known based on a feeling. A warm, happy, incredible, adventurous, magical feeling that I want to chase chase chase.
But, you see, my parents are my parents. And sometimes I worry that that’s the only identity they have, especially since they had me so young. I’m not sure they know who they are without me. That’s a lot of pressure. And I don’t have a sibling to offset any of that pressure.
I wrote the original version of this piece in October of 2018, after having a conversation with my parents about potentially moving from New York to Montana. I received a lot of pushback from my folks during this conversation which surprised me. I mean, they had always supported my travels! But then I realized they also knew I’d always come back.
I may be a Runaway Rapetti but I always seemed to run back to NY.
And then I found myself feeling guilty about the prospect of moving to Montana: Why don’t you just go back into broadcast? Why don’t you find a company you actually like enough to stick with and make enough money to live on your own and create a life in NYC? Why can’t you just be happy here, near your family? Why can’t you just be everything you were ever expected to be?
But I want a storied life. I need it.
For years, I appeared to never know what I was doing because I felt guilty about actually diving full-steam ahead into what I truly wanted…which was never the same as what my parents wanted for me! I may not have realized that ten years ago as I embarked on my college career, but I’m finally learning.
I spent too many years denying my innermost desires in an effort to stay close to home. The thing is, I didn’t choose to grow up in suburban NY. But I can choose where I go next. And I did!!!
I love my parents and am thankful for the life they’ve given me but this is not just a new chapter in my life, this is a new BOOK. And maybe, just mayyyybe, they need a new book too.
People need to know that they can’t have children and expect that they will want all the same things you may want for them. You can’t expect they will think and act and be just like you.
And you can’t expect them to stay stay stay because – just like stagnant water – that shit can be HAZARDOUS.
I may be 100% of their combined DNA but I’m also stardust and light and adventure and I’m no longer the kid who is content with sticking to what’s “safe”. I’ve always been a bit weird and quirky and I’m embracing that completely, even if it means following pursuits that my parents don’t fully understand. They don’t have to.
I am not my parents and no longer do I have to feel guilty about that.
I will continue to be their ‘Wacky Jackie’ from all parts, near and far.
** An edited version of this piece was featured on Thought Catalog under the title, Netflix’s ‘Someone Great’ Delivered The Best Piece Of Breakup Advice You’ll Ever Read
I’ll admit it– I’m a SUCKER for a cheesy romcom.
So when Netflix suggested I watch Someone Great starring Gina Rodriguez (as Jenny), you KNOW I clicked. And watched. And laughed. And cried.
But it’s one scene in particular that GOT ME.
Jenny sits on the F train with tears streaming down her face as she pens a letter to her ex.
A person she was with for nine years– most of those years spent in her twenties.
And, as a person who has penned many a tear-soaked letter and journal entry, it hit me in the feeeeeels.
So, naturally, I decided to transcribe all 226 of her spoken words into a kind of p o e m.
Because maybe you don’t like watching romcoms, but you need to hear this too.
Do you think I can have one more kiss?
I’ll find closure on your lips and then I’ll go.
Maybe, also, one more breakfast, one more lunch, and one more dinner.
I’ll be full and happy and we can part.
But, in between meals, maybe we can lie in bed one more time?
One more prolonged moment where time suspends indefinitely as I rest my head on your chest.
MY hope is if we add up the one more’s, they will equal a lifetime.
And I’ll never have to get to the part where I let you go.
But that’s not real, is it?
There are no more ‘one mores.’
I met you when everything was new and exciting,
and the possibilities of the world seemed
And they still are.
But not for us.
Somewhere between then and now, here and there–
I guess we didn’t just grow apart…
…we grew UP.
When something b r e a k s,
if the pieces are large enough,
you can fix it.
Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t break.
But when you let the light in, shattered glass will glitter.
And in those moments – when the pieces of what we were catch the sun – I’ll remember just how beautiful it was.
Just how beautiful it will always be.
Because it was us.
And we were magic.
Oof. Breaking up is hard to do.
But what I love about this cheesy movie is that the happy ending wasn’t found in the reconciliation of a relationship. Nor was it found with the beginning of a new romance.
It wasn’t, ‘Oh, I don’t need him, I’ve got [insert newer, handsomer guy]!’
It was THIS!
Jenny’s heart-wrenching, tear-soaked letter that reassures all of us that even shattered glass can bring LIGHT.
Glittering, shimmering, shiny light that makes YOU feel happy and joyful and alive.
I’ve been working through my very first break-up for the past year now and it’s been a rollercoaster. But I’m finally at this shimmery, glittery phase.
And the funny thing? I actually wrote my ex a letter about a month ago to let him know that. Like, I can finally look back at our relationship with happy, fond memories. I can think about it without feeling angry or upset. I can smile as I think about the good ol’ times.
And, at first, that confused me.
If the times had together were so happy, why did it end?
I guess I wanted the ‘one mores’, as Jenny put it.
One more this, one more that–
I’ll get it out of my system and THEN I’ll feel better.
I can move on.
But I’ve finally learned why certain happy times lay in the past.
And they don’t need to be dug up in the present.
Because constantly digging up the past leaves a lot of messy dirt, strewn about. It’s only when we rest that we’re able to see growth. The flowers are finally blossoming and, my, they’re lovely.
You see, there lies a relationship that was good and great but wasn’t meant for always.
And may it rest in peace.
Someone Great reminded me that finding someone great shouldn’t be my objective.
Because clean sheets are overrated and bed bugs need lovin’ too!
I’m kidding, jeeeeez. The common misconception is that hostels are dirty, dingy, and dangerous butttttt that couldn’t be further from the truth! I mean, sure, sometimes you check in to a hostel in San Diego to find that your new roommates have locked you out in an effort to finish cleaning up vomit on the floor so that you don’t get a “bad impression” of them. And then *click* the door unlocks and you’re greeted by the strong smell of limes, an extremely intoxicated 20-something, and a teen cleaning up the mess. You spot the empty bottle of tequila, a condom wrapper, and Flaming Hot Cheetos on the nightstand. All this and it’s ONLY 7 FUCKING POST MERIDIEM.
Ah, hostel life, you sigh, before muttering, I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS! and you hop back down to reception where you inform Bradley that I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS! and he skeptically asks, how old are you, and you say, 27, and he failingly tries to disguise his surprise as he agrees that, yes, maybe you are too old for this, before assigning you a new room.
And, yet, I continue to choose to stay in hostels because that’s where all the hella cool people are. Minus the vomming folks but I’ve been there too so, like, whatever.
From the 61-year-old man from the South Bronx who stayed at Hostel Fish and kept calling me ‘sista’ after learning that I too am from New York to the 30-something working there who once walked ACROSS AFRICA in the name of clean water, hostels are filled with the stories of incredible travelers, wanderers, and curious characters.
My most recent stay at Hostel Fish in Denver took me back to my first time staying at a hostel four years ago. Remember that time I met the coolest people who crammed me in a car and invited me to venture to Canada with them? On that same trip, I ended up ziplining and hitchhiking. The great thing about staying in a dorm-style hostel is that it serves as an endless revolving door of awesome people. Most recently in Denver, one of my roommates was 23-year-old Michelle from Reno, NV. It was her first time staying in a hostel and she reminded me so much of myself– I too was 23 when I embarked on my first solo adventure and stayed at a hostel for the first time.
Upon meeting me, Michelle asked if I was going on the hostel’s pub crawl and if I was “old enough to drink.” I literally cackled. When I told her I was 27, she was like, “I THOUGHT YOU WERE, LIKE, 19.” Ah, jeez.
She seemed a little nervous and unsure– all feelings I had when traveling alone for the first time. Meeting her was like meeting myself all over again and being able to observe how much I’ve grown as a traveler over the years.
Then, there was the old man also staying in our room who “accidentally” mooned me as he was getting dressed one morning. There was the charming 30-something fella with the “#1 Dad” necklace, worn proudly around his neck. We bonded at the bar over our mistakes in marriage and our mutual desire to travel and explore as much as we can.
Staying at a hostel gives you the opportunity to meet folks from ALL walks of life. Back in Denver, I also met Max from Ukraine. He’s a smiley dude working at Hostel Fish and his general excitement about life is magnetic. He told me he feels like he’s exactly where he needs to be at the moment and it was hard not to believe him. Another incredible human working at Hostel Fish is Diego. An extremely talented artist, yoga teacher, and wanderer, this Colombian native is so inspiring. We talked for a while and he was kind enough to show me a bunch of his sketches, complete with stories to go along with each. Check out his work here! He also has the most unique handwriting of anyone I’ve ever met and keeps journals just to practice his penmanship.
If you’ve never stayed in a hostel, I cannot recommend it enough– especially if you’re traveling solo! In fact, I still keep in touch with plenty of folks I’ve met in hostels throughout the years. From Laura (we met in Berlin) who lives in the UK to Shelbie, Dalton, and Alan…all of whom I met when in Seattle, I have a growing network of fellow adventurers around the world now!
Here’s a list of all the hostels I’ve been to in my travels– feel free to message me if you want more info about the hostel life!
HI Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco
Green Tortoise Hostel, Seattle
HI Downtown Hostel, Vancouver
Hostel Fish, Denver
Lucky D’s Hostel, San Diego
Kabul Party Hostel, Barcelona
Singer109 Hostel, Berlin*
The Circus Hostel, Berlin
Copenhagen Downtown Hostel, Denmark
Budget Backpackers, Edinburgh
Makuto Hostel, Granada
Kex Hostel, Reykjavik
The Yellow Hostel, Rome
*I would NOT recommend staying here if you’re looking for a fun hostel where it’s easy to make friends. I stayed here for one night in Berlin before switching to The Circus Hostel where I had a MUCH better experience. That being said, Singer109 was really clean and well-maintained…just had ZERO atmosphere and felt more like a hotel.
And that’s all for now folks! Time to explore more of Sunny D before reluctantly heading back to Michigan.
HI, IT’S JACKIE HERE. I’m currently listening to the 80s pop channel on Pandora (sidenote: apparently I’m a grandma for still using Pandora?!?? whatever), sitting in my new, cozy room in Michigan (yes, MICHIGAN), and reflecting on what the hell has happened in 2018. It’s been a fucking journey. I went back to read the blog post I wrote this time last year and realized I DIDN’T EVEN WRITE ONE. Like, I wrote a “Cheers to 2016!” and “Cheers to 2017!” but I was in such a crappy place this time last year that I couldn’t even properly ‘CHEERS!’ to the New Year. In fact, I was DREADING 2018. This time last year I was four months into a marriage that I knew I shouldn’t be in. I eloped for all the wrong reasons and felt young, dumb, lonely, and lost. And it makes me sad for my 26-year-old self. But, GUESS WHAT!? I’m 27 now (weird) and things are great (fab, in fact) and I’m SO EXCITED for 2019.
I learned so much about myself in 2018. For starters, I let go of a relationship that was sucking the life out of me. It wasn’t an easy thing to do but I’m so much happier for doing it.
thank u, next.
I reflected A LOT on my own self and what brings me happiness and why I am the way that I am and all of that good stuff and I wrote THIS piece and so many of you responded with such kind words and I can’t thank y’all enough for that. I wrote another piece for a writing competition (which I hope to do more of in 2019) that was more of a reflection on my past relationship and, though it didn’t win, I’m thinking I’ll share it on here soon. It’s 5,000 words though, so…grab a cup of coffee first. Writing is extremely cathartic for me but sharing my words is a bit more difficult and I haven’t mustered up the courage to publish that piece yet but I’m working on it…
Earlier this year, I moved to Astoria and then, after six months, I realized it wasn’t for me. I was raised to be a city girl and I have plenty of close friends who live in and around NYC but I craved something a bit simpler, yet more grand and awe-inspiring. I’ve always loved lakes and mountains and I felt like I was forcing myself to be Carrie Bradshaw. Although, we all know she wouldn’t have EVER lived in Astoria. Anyway. I moved back home to Northern Westchester and gave myself some time to figure things out…
…But not before attending a gala, because duh that’s what everyone does in NYC, did you not watch Gossip Girl? JK we kinda snuck in but shhhhhh it’s fine it’s fine. 😂😂
It was my first time back in Europe since Sept. 2017 when I went to Spain with Shanna and her family. This time around I went back to Iceland for a quick 20-hour stint before hopping along to Scotland, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and England! I traveled by myself, with my best friend, and with friends both new and old…and it was splendid.
^Monica captured a real ‘Jackie’ face there. 😂
Read more about my time in Europe here, here, and here!I did A LOT of cool things in Europe. From eating danish danishes in Denmark and searching for Nessie in Loch Ness to partying in Edinburgh and taking a dip in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, it was an adventure. But, the true highlight may have been nerding out at the Michael Jackson On the Wall Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. OH – and when I was in Berlin I saw the balcony where he dangled baby Blanket from that one time and that was great too. 😂😂😂😂😂
And then there was my GOLDEN BIRTHDAY. I turned 27 on the 27th of September and on that day I found myself on a flight to Kalispell, Montana. By myself, with my Man of the Woods album in hand (of course), I was ready for another adventure. And I’ll save the ravings because I already wrote about how freakin’ awesome it was HERE.
But here are some pics to prove just how PRETTY MONTANA IS:
From Montana, I flew to LA where I reconnected with some of my FAVORITE people who reminded me to listen to my heart and soul and that making big moves and changing things up can be scary but super duper fulfilling. ❤
Back in NY, I celebrated Spencer’s 30th (he doesn’t look a day over 25) and I was even a bridesmaid at Shanna’s wedding! So much good stuff to be happy about — I love you guys! ❤
Holy bananas, 2018 was a good one. I mean, I even witnessed a dog WALK ON WATER earlier this year, like, COME ON ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?! LOOK AT THAT MAJESTIC CREATURE.
My goal for 2019 was to finally move out of NY but woohoo I hit that goal earlier than expected! I’m in Michigan for now but it’s more of a stepping stone (though I’m enjoying it so far!)…I’m getting my feet wet before making the bigger move to MONTANA. I can’t wait! I’ve let go of a lot of things this year (both material and emotional) but it’s allowed for really exciting, incredible things in my life.
Also, this has been my first full year working completely freelance with no in-office jobs and it’s been a hustle but sooooo worth it!!!!
Anyways, thanks for being a part of the adventure! And thank you to all of my new and old friends who’ve made 2018 super kick-ass.