Exchange in Photos: Part I

A little over a month in Edinburgh, and I’m enraptured.

Here are 18 photos from my first weeks abroad that only manage to capture about 5% of the beauty I’ve experienced. I couldn’t possibly describe the context behind every captured moment, but I think they speak pretty well on their own. (But if you’re curious about location, I’ll list those at the bottom).

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1. Grassmarket

2. – 3. Edinburgh Castle

4. High Street

5. – 6. Inverary

7. – 8. Oban

9. St. Giles Cathedral

10. Lovecrumbs Cafe

11. View from my window :~)

12. Fortitude Coffee

13. Calton Hill

14. Arthur’s Seat

15. – 18. Glenfinnan (filming spot for the Hogwarts Express (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) and Black Lake (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire))

Crossing the Threshold

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*The following was written on December 10th, 2016. I was still in Montreal. 

I’m lying in my bed, with six candles illuminating both the room and my spirits with their soft glow. I know that a chilled Montreal air is only inches away on the other side of my old, fogged window, but I am warm and dry. I swaddle myself in my comforter, and I just feel so at home.

Cut to a glistening California morning, birds singing their sweet morning wake up calls and the familiar morning sun greeting me through the window and the slits of my tired eyes. The same sensation creeps into my realm of thought: home.

For anybody who has lived between cities, or moved across countries, and made loving homes in all the places they’ve nested in, this is for you.

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My life changes on a pretty consistent basis, my experiences continually changing who I am. I’m in a constant state of learning, evolving according to those I encounter and situations I find myself in. In addition to all of this – the generically prescribed experience of a 20-year-old young woman – my home changes several times a year.

It’s December now. Next week, I’ll be packing up all of my belongings, returning to Napa for the holidays, and then I’m off to Edinburgh for five months. After that, it’s back to San Francisco for a summer and only then do I get to reunite with my life here in Montreal. The next year contains not only immense anticipation, growth, and excitement, but it also contains four different cities that I must make a home for myself in.

There’s a convoluted guilt that boils in my stomach when I find myself excited to return to one of my homes; it inevitably implies saying goodbye to another. While the excitement at returning to my dear California nearly seeps through the surface of my entire body whenever I wistfully imagine the waves kissing the beach, or driving like a maniac with the windows rolled down, I cannot dull the aching dread of leaving what seems like my whole world here in Montreal.

The crippling fear of leaving something that brings me so much joy is a familiar feeling. It comes with the essence of goodbye, and I have had my fair share of those. Living a somewhat nomadic existence brings many things, but stability is not one of them. And while I wouldn’t trade my life between countries and coasts for anything in the world, I can recognize each time I say goodbye, I am a little more scared.

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Maybe I genuinely love my life in Montreal more than any other life I’ve lived – or maybe I’m just getting older. I’m beginning to realize the true lucidity and intangibility of everything I think I have. It can all be gone in a second, and the weight of that recognition finds its way into my goodbyes. I know I’m returning to Montreal in a mere matter of months – but what if I don’t? By some trick of fate, everything about this life I love so much could disappear.

One would be right to point out that I don’t know what exists beyond the threshold of the next phase of my life. The limitless possibilities laid out before me should excite me; and they do, to be sure. I don’t yet know what I have to look forward to. There’s a high that comes with diving head first into an adventure for which you have zero expectations. And what will be so blissful about all the memories I’m about to make is that I don’t know them yet. But here’s what I do know: I am happy now, and that is hard to leave.

While it’s hard to hand out an all-encompassing strategy for anybody who feels the same, here’s what I can offer:

Had I not bid farewell to the ever-comforting embrace of San Francisco two and a half years ago, I would not live the life I lead and love so much here. And what paved the road to that decision, is the same encouragement that led me to my year of four cities. So I trust the instinct, blindly, because the truth is, the possibility that I will do marvelous things and break new emotional ground is far more likely than it is not.

So I will embark on my next adventure, not daring to undermine the gravity of the goodbye-induced tears by wiping them away. I will forever be in debt to my decisions for where they have brought me and what they have given me – and I will trust them as I cross the threshold.

the blonded.

Blonded.

In September of 2013, I started a blog. Looking for a creative outlet for my innate earnestness to enter the fashion world, TheClosetCraze served as the perfect platform. And for over 3 years (can you believe it?) it has fulfilled its duties and been what I needed it to be, when I needed it. I’ve experienced times of intense motivation to create content, and just as much I’ve left it alone to focus on other life experiences.

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TheClosetCraze was an idea birthed from my 16-turned-17-year-old mind. Wrapped up in a world flooded with like-minded teenage girls just trying to “make their mark” on the fashion world and worshipping Danielle Bernstein, I naturally fell into step with the rest. As any unseasoned young girl, a little too scared to wear what she really wanted to wear and act how she really wanted to act, it was easy to think what I was doing was right when everybody else was doing it too.

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By no means am I discrediting what TheClosetCraze has done for me – it has helped me to blossom and flourish in so many ways. On my journey since its inception, it has not only enabled me to trace where my style has gone as its surface purpose prescribes, but it has provided the much needed encouragement to ride the wave of my imagination rather than chase it.

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But it’s clear to me, and hopefully to you as well, that I am not the same self that I was when I was 16. And it seems to me that running a blog that no longer reflects where I am in life – creatively, intellectually, and otherwise – doesn’t make much sense. 

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So I present to you, the blonded. 

the blonded is just a blog. No more, no less. It’s the portal through which I will toss my thoughts and feelings into the black hole of the internet. Fashion still plays the primary inspiration in the blonded universe, but by removing the confines of definition, I feel that whatever my content will be, will be unreservedly me. 

Welcome to the blonded.

Take me on a trip

If you had asked me two years ago if I would be wearing this jacket today, I would have grimaced and mumbled something about being “too casual,” or “not black enough.” And even though the essence of my style has changed since then, my mind still drew a question mark when I saw it on the hanger. But it intrigued me enough to try it on, so I did – what happened next should be obvious. The structured shoulders and loose hang spoke to me in a way that they may not have in a different phase of my life.

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Free People Jacket, Levi’s Wedgie Jeans, Free People Boots

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I look at my closet and realize that most of the pieces I own are light-years away from where I thought they’d be only a small time ago, and I wonder, why does this happen? Why does our style change so dramatically yet so steadfastly? And I know what you’re going to say: trends. I get it, trends influence everybody, even the consistent ones among us. But I think beyond that, what we’re looking to get out of our clothes changes.

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For me, clothes aren’t just about how I look. I pick out a piece from my wardrobe and it doesn’t just tell me what color I’ll be wearing that day. A white frilly blouse peeks out among my hangers and it urges me to become the 70’s rock star I’ve always wanted to be. Suddenly, I’m thrown into a rebellious state and my beat up sneakers don’t look so ugly anymore, they look well worn in and beckon adventure. My sweet heeled loafers (shoes you’ve yet to see) call out to me to hop on a flight to Paris and spend the day reading French literature with a bottle of wine and a baguette on a park bench. My clothes lead me to lives I haven’t lived, and they only bring me that much closer to the woman I want to become: adventurous, brave, curious, and strong.

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I’m sure, in ten years’ time, that the places my clothes take me won’t be backstage at a Rolling Stones concert or walking along the Seine River – they’ll transport me to other locations and lives that will bring me closer to my desired end state.

But for now, I’m going to keep wearing this jacket until I don’t quite feel like camping out in the African plains anymore.