For All the Ladies

My sisters and my mother are three of the most important people in my life. My brothers and father, too. But that is a different blog post for a different day (it'll be soon, guys!)

I probably call or talk to my sisters, on average, 4-5 times a week, and I talk to my mother everyday. And that's the way it's been the last four years I've been away. That's the way it's been for, well... ever.

With graduation quickly approaching, I'm feeling sentimental, reminiscent, sad, excited, and everything in between. My emotions each day I wake up in these last two weeks left in Tuscaloosa are basically a big fat "TBD, Mags!" But that's okay, because feeling all of these things means this place means something to me. And it means that Tuscaloosa, that UA, will be a part of my life and who I am forever.

I've had some really awful things happen to me in college. I've almost failed a semester of school from having my heart broken, I've been violated in the truest, most intimate way possible, I've seen deaths of loved ones, I've watched loved ones experience some really painful moments. I've seen a lot in four years. I've experienced a lot. And through each and every experience, I called my sisters and my momma, or my best friends.

Each. And every. Single. Time.

I left my hometown of De Witt, Iowa four years ago with an infinite amount of hope in my heart. I was about to enter my freshman year at the University of Alabama, I was going to join a sorority, I was going to be a Crimsonette for the Million Dollar Band. I had opportunities presented to me that most people don't see in their lifetimes -- all over the course of a few short years. The truth is, I'm so, so indebted to this place and these people. My momma and sisters, along with all the other beautiful folks I've met here, have trusted in me, believed in me, and stuck by me every step of the way -- even when I gained the freshman fifteen, even when I was scary thin, even when I acted a fool and made dumb decisions (that usually involved overdrafting my bank account) -- there they were, armed and ready, like my own little army of supporters.

I feel lucky every day. Because whenever I call my sisters or my mom, I'm reminded first, that my beautiful momma gave me these two wonderful women. And I'm reminded of how unique, beautiful, and smart each of these women are. I'm grateful because I think about the people who don't have sisters to call, who don't have a mom like mine, who don't have a mom in general. I'm grateful because these painful moments I've experienced in the last four years would've been exceedingly harder. Without their guidance and love, I firmly believe I wouldn't have survived. And that is just the downright truth.

The same goes for the beautiful friends I have made in this place. They've seen me, and maintained their friendships with me, when I was at my absolute worst. Some days over the last four years, they were the reason I was able to get out of bed in the mornings. They were the reason I was able to survive, despite things that have happened. They ARE the reason that Tuscaloosa's spot in my heart is permanent -- because without this place, I would have never encountered these beautiful souls. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

My grief in this place has softened me. I have not closed myself off from the world just because it was sometimes a cruel and unforgiving place. My experiences, both good and bad, have shaped who I am. But none of that would've been possible without my momma, sisters, and my girlfriends. Mom, Leah, and Molly: I don't say this enough, but thank you. Thank you for being my confidants, my friends, and my biggest role models. You have helped me discover more about myself in the last four years than I ever imagined.

To all of my beautiful, hysterical friends: I love each and every one of you with every fiber of my being. I am so lucky to have met all of you, and I know someday, we'll all find our way back to Innisfree again and drown ourselves in Irish gold sauce and laugh about how Kylie said she was going to jump off of Bear Trap, or cry (from laughter) about the heinous outfits we used to wear.

I cannot say goodbye to Tuscaloosa or the people here, nor do I want to. This place is my home. And Iowa is my home. And where my family is, is my home. And where my friends are, is my home. I have built a home in many places, but the best thing I ever did was build a home within myself, and that wouldn't have been possible (or at least, would've happened very differently) had I not attended school at UA, met these beautiful people, or had sisters and a mom like mine. I am so thankful for you, and my heart is just as hopeful, if not more, as it was four years ago.

"Home wasn't a set house, or a single town on a map. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go."

Happy graduation, ladies.

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