I've used the term "real life" A LOT in the past year. I've used it to describe the excitement of being in a new city. I've used it to express my feelings about being reunited with far-away friends. I've turned it into a hashtag that accompanies images that are eye-catching and like-worthy. I've given it almost a reverse meaning - one of constant emotional and sensory highs, adventure, and newness.
This week I've done all of the things that I have been using the term "real life" for. I visited 4 states, went to multiple weddings, ate all of the wonderful food, saw sweet friends for the first time in 9 months, spent 4 in-person days with my long distance boyfriend, drank a lot of great coffee, relaxed in a hammock for 2, and danced the night away on more than one occasion.
And then I got on a plane and came home. Before the day had ended I had ugly-cried at the departure curb, slept on the airport floor, gotten strep throat, stepped back into 100 degree heat, blown a tire on the way to urgent care, changed the tire (Yeah, I did), picked up 4 prescriptions, and cried myself to sleep atop a pile of dirty laundry that made me cry just because it was dirty and meant that my trip was over. I wanted the dress to be hanging back on the flowery wooden hook by my door. That hook means that there is something to celebrate soon. And now I wasn't sure what to hang there.
I'm still not sure what will go on the flowery hook next, but I do know this: As much as I loved each moment of this wonderful week, it does not encompass the meaning of real life.
Real life has very little to do with my surroundings. Real life is not dependent on what dress I am wearing or how many pictures I took in it. Real life cannot be dictated by my emotions. Real life is not always fun. Real life is messy. Real life is uniquely your's. Real life is quiet sometimes and very noisy at others. Real life means sometimes saying "no" when we want to say "yes", and saying "yes" even when we are afraid. Real life means waiting patiently. Real life means writing out the moments so that you can watch as the story comes together. Real life is not lived in a day or a week or a year - and why would we want it to be?
Real life is the whole thing. Without the tears over dirty dresses, there wouldn't be as much anticipation when the clean one is hanging on the hook. Without the months apart, the days together wouldn't be quite the reward that they are in this season. It isn't always going to be the way that it is right now. Whatever season or adventure or travel day you are in - remember that it is real life. And real life is a gift.