Oh come now, just one more time

Hannah, Paris, France

I’m not a counter, as in someone who always has a running tally of wrongs and rights committed by the people around me. I am a counter in regards to food experiences – most restaurants have one, single shot to impress me. And I think maybe I should be a more conscience counter of my privilege and blessings. But for people, I have never really been on board with the “second-chance” mentality because the number doesn’t matter.

Just in the last two years of my life, I re-connected with a great friend (shout out MCam and a chance meeting at the Commonwealth), learned to appreciate the beautiful struggle of family (wine can heal a lot) and moved to France once again to do a Masters that had rejected me the first time around (which may kill me, but most likely not). Had I not let life work out its own path, a path that sometimes requires re-dos, backtracking, missed opportunities, unknown options and so much more non-linear navigation, I would not have amassed the wealth of experiences that define me.

Even this blog is a lesson in renewed faith and effort. Kirsten was in Paris with me over the New Year and as we sat in my bed, eating fancy cheese and pears on toast, she helped me get the motivation to re-launch this project. I was hesitant – a one-year unannounced hiatus may have alienated some of the writers and of course, being a full-time student, I wasn’t sure I had the time to allocate to it – but, she nudged me in her ever-so gentle KKuwa way and as soon as she left to go back to Ethiopia, I sent out the first email to request submissions.

This post, I had 4 responses – two submission, one deferral and one very understandable refusal. Despite my decidedly lighter load this semester, I am already four days late in publishing this round. Also I’m still wearing my clothes from yesterday as I write this. So things are not necessarily smooth and simple the second, third or fourth time around. But here’s my opinion on this wily business of undertaking and re-undertaking (and let me butcher some Latin while I’m at it) : we have to facere aude. Dare to do. And then dare to do it all again.

So here’s to round two of Her Day Out Loud – may our readers forgive my ungracious abandon and dare to read us again.

Kirsten, Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia

Often when I think of giving second chances to people, my first reaction is “Uh-uh. They got their chance. They gots to go!” Usually this irrational thinking is tied to me being hurt by someone.

As an unoriginal association, I’m thinking about failed romantic relationships. Do we keep in contact with the people who we were once so close to? Or does the awkwardness of not being close anymore make it unbearable to give this situation a second chance?

I don’t have a clear answer for this. All I know is that the end of any relationship hurts. Saying goodbye is never easy for any situation, be it to an unconditionally loving grandparent, a beloved dog, or an irreplaceable friend. Separation always hurts. Regardless of the type of separation, sometimes second chances for a relationship may mean not having the person in your life anymore. It might mean a second chance to try living a new life apart.

Recently, I read two books about grief, Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking” and C.S. Lewis’ “A Grief Observed.” Didion captures the pain and processing of grief well. C.S. Lewis focuses more on the “moving on” aspect. He mentions that we often associate “bereavement” or “loss of a significant other” as something that was stolen from us far too early. But he also mentions that we don’t think of loss as the next step in our relationship, a natural progression of what we have to deal with as human beings.

And in a yet even more respectable reference, in the film “The Fault in Our Stars,” the boy at the end writes to the girl, “you don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.”

Choices. Second chances.

I’d like to think that we get progressively better each time we fall and get back up. But I know that sometimes I’ve become a worse version of myself with hasty decisions made without foresight. I also know that I’ve made intentional decisions that helped me run towards a better direction. The one saving grace is that I still have hope that I can strive to be better this time, that God’s giving me a second chance today to be a better version of myself.

Today’s a new day. I can be a better me.

Ella, Llangefni, Wales

At the point of beginning to write this post I had been staring at the screen for an entire episode of Love (check it out if you have Netflix), trying to conjure up some ideas on second chances that aren’t completely lame. Sure, I could tell you about how a few weeks into my current job I got told to shape up or ship out and now I’m not only still there but also actually moving up. But honestly, who really wants to read that? It would be corny, riddled with clichés and just plain crappy.

So I guess I should find some other way to discuss second chances without spinning some saccharine-sweet tale that will make us all want to barf (don’t worry, there are plenty of other times for me to inflict that on you). I think one of the reasons I find second chances such a hard subject to discuss is that for me, aside from my own personal example they’ve always conjured images of someone being given a second chance as an act of forgiveness. It’s not that I don’t think these sorts of second chances aren’t important, I would just rather not write about them today. Instead it got me thinking, why don’t I try giving second chances to things I’ve previously decided I don’t like? Take gouda, the only cheese I’ve ever met that I don’t like, or the music of Pitbull, for example. I should give these things another chance, and see if my tastes have matured at all since I last gave them a shot…

I managed 4 seconds of Pitbull before I had to turn it off, I’m sorry but repeating a word is not rhyming it, and his music is just bad. And most of the mini gouda portions I bought have been given to my better half. But all is not lost, these attempts to give things I didn’t like another chance reminded me of a dinner party I was at a few months ago where the main course was lamb, something I usually avoided unless it was in a curry and therefore didn’t taste too much like lamb. Not having the option to turn my nose up at it without being incredibly rude, I ate it, and I can happily confirm that it was absolutely delicious. This might have been a case of it generally being cooked very well, and I have no doubt that the copious amount of wine I’d already drunk by that time will have helped things along, but I can now happily say that lamb is no longer on my list of foods I dislike, just as long as it’s nice & tender, and paired with a nice Malbec. Cheers to second chances!

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