This is me.

Hi. This is me, Leah.

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Specifically, this is me, Leah, laughing. I’m looking at a friend off to the side, a friend who is making me laugh through some random conversation so that my smile will look genuine in this photograph. I think she did a good job.

Shortly after this photo was taken I watched this friend exchange a tearful goodbye with the photographer; they wouldn’t be seeing each other for a year because the photographer would soon leave for Korea. I drove my friend to the airport, and on the way we talked about Pretty Woman, homelessness in LA, and our plans for the summer.

I had just graduated college. I was scared and excited and highly grateful for the wonderful people in my life, grateful only in the way that you can feel when you realize that you are about to leave something behind, or that that something is about to leave you. You spend all of your time thinking about how wonderful that thing is and wondering how you’ll live without it.

But I did. Somehow I found the courage to leave behind a life that was so happy that it felt too easy, to travel away from beaches and palm trees and best friends and into sunrises and uniforms and challenges. Big challenges.

The big facts: I live in Boston. I work in a middle school. This is my first “real” winter, and as I sit at my desk with my lights threatening to go out, looking out the window and watching the snow fall, I wonder whether I’m ready. I love movies, television, music, crafts, and people. Specifically helping them.

The little ones: I hate pants. I love my stuffed Panda. I’m possibly the pickiest eater and least talented chef I know. I consider myself an amateur photographer. I’m a huge USC fan but I know almost nothing about football. I’m really good at Catchphrase.

Is that all you need to know? I’m not sure. Anybody who has applied to college knows how hard it can be to write about oneself. It’s strange: we are with ourselves 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and yet most of us are incredibly unaware. We can’t figure out how we feel, we can’t come up with “fun facts;” in fact the amount of time we spend trying to understand ourselves is astounding.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes somebody else can describe you better than you describe yourself? What an interesting phenomenon. I guess that’s the world’s trick on us, a little reminder that we can’t be experts on anything and that we always need the support and perspective of others.

So this is the beginning. This is me giving a glimpse at who I am, while knowing that it’s impossible to fully convey. But for you, dear reader, I’ll try.

Until next time.

PS: Photo credit goes to my lovely and talented friend Bijou Nguyen.

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