four years!

Four years ago I signed up for a Squarespace two-week free trial. I taught myself to code a website (in the most rudimentary and experimental of fashions). I picked out a blog name, wrote a cheesy, oh-so-basic bio, and hit "new post" for the very first time. 

MinneapoLiz is four years old today. Looking back, I can't believe I've been writing this blog for as long as I was in high school, and in college, and at Travelers. Four years is a solid timespan, campers...the kind of timespan that typically culminates in diplomas, or graduation parties, or commencement ceremonies. Here I sit, though - no diploma in sight, no recognition or celebration or graduation to the next step forthcoming - and I find myself contemplating just what this blog, in all its iterations, has given me instead.

Reading back through four years of posts, it almost feels like this continual chronicling of my life has been a collegiate progression. My "freshman year of blog," with awful formatting and cheesy rambling about playlists and the boyfriend and finding my way. A sophomore year of growing pains and breakups and, oh god, most basic of all basicness, starting the Brunch Challenge. And a junior year of friends and travel and drinking and socializing way too hard, way too often...and loving every minute of it.

Three years of very distinct life phases, which bring me here to this "senior year" of sorts. As with college, "senior year of blog," for me, heralded a sea change. I've never lived away from Minnesota, with the exception of my (similarly monumentally significant) four years of college. Here I sit on the balcony of my California apartment, watching palm trees swaying in the breeze and smelling the salt of the bay mingle with wildfire smoke and my coffee. And had you asked me this time last year, or the year before, or, goodness, the year before that whether I would ever be here in this place, I don't think I could have even conceived that it was possible. 

And there you have it - a shift which, I think, really just goes to show how much I've grown. It's like sitting in the stadium on graduation day, black gown sticking to my sweaty shoulders, remembering what it was like to sit in this same crowd of my classmates during the Freshman Welcome Mass. I vividly, viscerally remember that moment - looking back with nostalgia and pride at the evolution and adventure of the last four years as I sat there at the end of it all. With this blog, I have put four years' worth of nostalgia down on paper, virtual though it may be, and I can revisit "freshman year of life" with a click of a mouse. I can look back at brunches with girlfriends, vacations with my family, inside jokes and stressful days and my continual stumbling quest for happiness and fulfillment, and, with awe, see how far I've come. 

From where I sit, that's the most beautiful thing about what I've done with this space. As I always say on this day, I'm incredibly proud to have kept this space up for as long as I have, and to have committed to continually experimenting and re-evaluating and challenging my own conceptions of what I can do here. Happy fourth anniversary to my beloved blog, and to all of you, thank you so much today and every day for reading, reacting, and giving me so much joy in this bizarre, lovely adventure.