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snippetScribbled in various old journals of mine are the words I am Fortune’s fool. Not original, I admit, but my journals have the tendency to be melodramatic and what could be more melodramatic than a reference to Romeo’s romantic anguish? I have felt like a fool repeatedly in love, and until now, was not particularly happy about it. But I have experienced a synchronistic turn of events now having me think otherwise.

When I got my wisdom teeth pulled this summer, my wonderfully creative friend gifted me her newly printed zine called Snippet and a little black notebook to keep me entertained during the recovery. The theme of this first issue was “Journey”. A few pages into the zine I encountered a photocopy of the tarot card of The Fool, which I had never seen before. I was then prompted to locate and analyze the various symbols on the card and how that all relates to journeys.

tarot_foolThere is clearly the man walking towards a steep cliff, with his head held high and eyes closed, just one step away from falling off the edge. His posture shows no sign of fear or concern, and he does not pay attention to the dog next to him apparently trying to warn him of the potential danger ahead. The Fool carries a white rose in one hand, which I perceived as beauty and innocence, a ruck sack as he is clearly on an adventure, and the sun shines down on him from behind, illuminating his journey. It’s a bright, sunny day despite the looming threat of danger unknown to him.

I have since looked up the symbolism of this card, and it is more or less on par with this interpretation. But what I learned was that The Fool is an unnumbered card, or sometimes represented as a 0, either at the beginning of the Major Arcana or at the end. The number 0 being of unlimited potential. Anything could happen for the Fool, but only something can happen if he takes a step. He creates his own destiny. The Fool represents new beginnings and invites us to take a leap of faith and to trust in the Universe. He encourages us to believe in ourself and follow our heart, no matter how crazy or ‘foolish’ the impulse may seem.

All my life I thought being a fool was a bad thing. But now I was beginning to like The Fool.

At the moment of reading this zine, I was having a strong impulse pushing me towards San Francisco for both professional and personal reasons. I wrote in my journal mostly about how I wanted to be like The Fool on this new journey, this big move to San Francisco and everything it involved. I chose to trust in the Universe and focus on the beauty at hand.

I arrived and instantly headed out to the Burning Man festival, all full of excitement about my new life. There was a pending matter of the heart to attend to with someone out there, and I was looking forward to embracing that. Without going into much detail, I can just say that I didn’t see the precipice ahead, despite the fact there had been a dog beside me barking its warning for some time. Eyes closed, big smile on my face, white rose in hand, I took a leisurely step and suddenly there was no ground beneath my feet. I felt myself free falling off a cliff. I smacked the ground and it hurt. And, ironically, it happened while watching this beautiful sculpture called Embrace burn to the ground.

embrace_burn

I was, again, Fortune’s Fool. And there were ashes to prove it.

Later that afternoon I embarked on a different journey with my friends through a massive dust storm, in the hopes to reclaim my Burning Man experience and heal my fresh wound at the caring side of my lovely friends. The dust cloud was fairly dense, allowing just a few feet of visibility at times. There is something very beautiful and surreal about walking aimlessly through a dust storm. It’s quiet and calm and I am left with my thoughts. As I walked slowly through the whiteout, my mind returned to the events of the morning and the heartbreak. I kept thinking how foolish it was to open my heart and allow this pain to happen.

dust

Due to the lack of visibility we walked towards the setting sun that would eventually lead us back to our camp. The sun felt good on my skin, and I closed my eyes to soak it in. Since I couldn’t really see anything anyway, I kept my eyes closed and continued walking towards the sun. I thought about the Fool walking with his eyes closed, and I decided to embrace my new beginning. I broke off a bit from my friends and decided it was time for a self-love pep talk. Gripping the shoulder straps of my Camelback in each fist, I created a shield of armor over my chest and repeated to myself over and over again that I was strong. I envisioned my wolf-woman self, bringing me back to that centered, confident place where I sometimes find myself. My chin was up, eyes still closed, a smile finally breaking on my lips. I was a Warrior Woman, completely invincible.

And then, bang! I got side-swiped by a bicyclist. The girl he was doubling flew (safely) off the handlebars and both were quickly at my side, very apologetic. And I just stood there and laughed. I told them that I was walking with my eyes closed, so it was my fault. I told them about my Warrior Woman pep-talk and my invincibility, and we all had a good laugh. He brought out a bottle of tequila, and I took a swig. They told me a cute story about how they had just met thirty minutes before, and sent me along my way.

The Fool is not so invincible, as it turns out. That cliff edge is a real thing.

The next day my friends and I rode our bikes out to explore the artwork and came across an installation involving a bunch of old, differently colored doors attached to create a circle.

The Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune

We parked our bikes and I walked right up to it, opened one of the doors and stepped through. The inside of this space gave me the impression of an old brothel, and as I turned around in the circle I realized that behind each door was a tarot card. I looked back at the door that I had walked through. And, no surprise, I had unknowingly selected The Fool, who this time was depicted as a masked woman in a beautiful black and white image spanning the entire door frame.

The_Fool_Wheel_of_ FortuneI remember unhappily muttering, “of course…,” and a woman inside the installation laughed at (or with?) me. I teared up a bit, just wanting to go home and crawl into my clean bed where I could close my eyes and stop walking and be safe.

Days later I was back home and reflecting on my week out in the desert. Suddenly all the different moments of synchronicity came together and I thought, perhaps there was something behind this Fool thing. I did more research into the card, and decided that I am not Fortune’s fool, but rather I am fortunately the Fool. I walk blindly and trustingly through my life and always have. And, for the most part, that has worked out for me and I have lived such beautiful and amazing experiences as a result. I would much rather trust people, and myself, than to live my life full of fear and doubt. I am the number zero. I am unlimited potential.

I was so afraid that this recent experience would make me question my judgement or lose my faith. But I am realizing that the Universe is indeed looking after me. I fell and it hurt. But it was the landing of a huge leap forward that I needed to take. The sun comes up each day and I have the ability to begin a new journey. Had I not trusted in my heart and followed an impulse, I would not be here in San Francisco finally moving forward in my career path and reconnecting with my family, old friends and new.

I am not invincible, especially when I allow myself to be vulnerable and exposed (or when I walk through crowded, whited-out intersections with my eyes closed apparently!). But I will not be afraid to close my eyes, trust, and walk steadily ahead. It may be foolish, but I love being a fool.

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If someone had told me that I would spend a weekend chanting and feeling other women’s breasts in the middle of a forest, I would probably have opted out on the retreat.

Luckily for me, however, I went blindly into the weekend and came out with a whole new perspective.

Returning to Barcelona after a week of spiritual and physical connections at Burning Man was difficult for me. Here in the city people stare at you at all the time, but rarely do they share a look with you, straight in the eyes, with purpose or curiosity. People just stare/glare at you on the metro, in the street, in the cafes. And rarely do they smile when you catch their eyes. It’s really disheartening. It feels very cold.

Barcelona feels at times very disconnected. People feel really disconnected. This whole past month, in post-Burning Man fashion, I have been longing to connect with people, with nature, and with myself. So when someone forwarded me information about a weekend-long women’s retreat in the countryside, I signed up before thoroughly reading what the weekend was to entail. A few days prior to the retreat, I received information from the organizer where she mentioned various items we needed to bring along: a ball of yarn of a color best representing me, beaded jewelry, a long flowy skirt, and a pillow case, amongst other things.

A sudden panic set in. I’m heading out to the wilderness with a bunch of hippies. We’re probably going to get naked, chant and dance in a circle. Oh geez. I read through the retreat information again and also noticed that there was a strong emphasis on mothers. I am interested in midwifery and working with mothers, but I am not a mother.

I called the organizer at almost midnight the night before the retreat and asked her quite frankly, “Did I make a mistake by signing up for this? I’m not sure this is for me.” I explained to her why I signed up (my need for connection with people, nature and myself) and she said yes, of course this retreat was for me. Just come. And don’t worry.

I packed my suitcase. Oddly almost everything I brought, including my ball of yarn, was purple. Like my bedroom wall and the scent of lavender, it is the color that relaxes me and makes me feel positive and sensual. And that’s how I felt all weekend.

We arrived to the old rural house in the Empordà and immediately I felt out of place. First of all, I was the only non-European there. Of the 40 or so women that attended, I was one of the youngest and definitely the poorest in Spanish language skills. Since I arrived with the preconceived idea of a hippie retreat, I also felt very ‘straight’ in the presence of such powerful, spiritual and eccentric women, adorned in their flowy clothes and braided hair. I felt like I was being judged just as much as I was judging.

Everything changed, quickly, once it was time to set up our circle space, this cold stone room where the 40 of us would open up and share with one another for the weekend. We cleaned the space, put down wool blankets on the floor and hung colorful material from the ceiling and walls. A group of women walked into the forest and returned with bundles of flowers, lavender plants and herbs to string around the place. In a matter of 2 hours, the room was warm and comfortable, incredibly inviting. And it was created by us together. As such, the connection began.

I had heard of women’s circles before but I didn’t totally grasp the idea. Common sense told me that we’d sit in a circle and talk, but it was much more than that. Drawing on the wisdom of ancient cultures in an atmosphere of love and support, women’s circles are a safe environment for nourishing honest and deep communication. The women’s circles also provide an opportunity to take note of new beginnings and journeys within our lives. Though the organizers had various prompts and activities planned, often times the circle just led itself. Apart from speaking, we also did various movement and interactive activities.

I was in the presence of such incredible and diverse women, all of whom shared their dreams and their nightmares. I watched, and participated, as 39 women joined forces to aid one woman through a difficult or beautiful revelation. I listened as women told secrets they had never shared before because there was so much trust and understanding hovering in the room. I shared my own experiences with them as well. We laughed and we cried. And we practiced yoga with the sunrise.

Saturday night was our party. We were told to dress like diosas and the organizer arranged for a DJ to come set the mood for our moves! And dance we did, most of the women topless, amidst a wild thunder and lightning storm raging outside. Oddly enough a few friends of mine from Barcelona showed up unexpectedly for what they were told would be a “witch party” in the forest. Ha! Upon seeing them, my initial reaction was one of shock and slight disappointment, since it was suppose to be a women’s spiritual weekend with strangers. Now there were men AND friends of mine? Soon enough I remembered that nothing in my world is ever a coincidence. Everything always happens for reasons. What could have been a big jolt in my women’s weekend in the end was a beautiful and unexpected surprise. The little bit of male energy presence was gratefully welcomed and, if anything, it only reinforced my new strengthened sense of femininity, which as it turns out is very fun to share 😉

Speaking of breasts, yes, we did massage each others’ boobies. After dedicating a good half hour to our own breasts with a homemade oil, someone suggested that we massage each other. A red flag went up for me and I almost jumped out of that circle immediately. But I did not. Because quite frankly, for me there was nothing sexual about it whatsoever. These were mothers and grandmothers. It was a powerful moment for me because I was paired up with an older woman who only had one breast, due to breast cancer. Earlier that day she told the group that she had no sensation in her removed breast for many years and only recently had she developed some feeling in it again. So imagine both of our delight as I massaged an area that once caused her so much pain and that she was only now starting to appreciate again. She almost purred and it felt so nice to bring joy to this woman in such a simple way. There were quite a lot of giggles and little jokes amongst the women. I don’t think this is something any of us had really done before and we were all clearly aware that it was half-amazing and half-strange. But I have to say, I have a whole new respect for my breasts now.

The focus of the weekend was about accompaniment. How to accompany someone else, and how to be accompanied. As the retreat was organized by women that aid other women through pregnancies and birth, this made sense. We did some interesting exercises. I always thought I was much better at receiving, but I learned this weekend that perhaps I’m actually more of a giver in certain situations. There were some extremely uncomfortable moments when I had to be passive and let someone give to me. I wanted to have control. As my partners in the exercises approached me, I felt a huge wall and would go rigid. And they could sense it and tried to respect my space. It was strange. I’ve always considered myself fairly open, but as I’ve been told by various strangers during my travels and by plenty of men, I am actually quite guarded. This weekend really helped me see that and, more importantly, taught me how to let down my guard and feel comfortable with someone crossing over my protective border.

At the close of the last day we performed a healing ceremony for a woman who has breast cancer. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life. The woman, a mother of two gorgeous children, sat in the middle of our circle with her shirt off. Two women sat with her, holding her hand, while the rest of us passed around a bottle of oil and ‘blessed’ it each in her own way. All the while repeating some sort of healing chant. It lasted a good twenty minutes. And I started to cry. And then I started to bawl. Whatever I had kept in during the whole weekend just started to flow out and I couldn’t stop! The women sitting on each side of just held my hand and let me cry. And it felt wonderful.

I am so glad that my own prejudices and preconceptions did not impede me from attending this retreat. I learned so much from these women, and about myself through their eyes, words and contact. This weekend has reinforced that I do want to work with women and mothers, and I do want to help people heal. It feels amazing to know I’m moving towards the right path and I am glowing from the inside out.

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Burning Love

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
But I didn’t go to Vegas, so here it goes…

Two weeks ago I headed to the Utopian underworld of Black Rock City, the third most populated city of Nevada (albeit for just one week a year) for the Burning Man festival. The major difference between Las Vegas and Black Rock City is this: the former makes you want to black out all memories of what happened (it never happened!) while the latter imprints itself on your mind and you want to hang on tight and remember everything.

Burning Man encourages free love, free booze and suggestive clothing and/or nudity. This makes for a very intimate meeting of open body and souls. And I was not excluded from the scenario. I had been forewarned that kissing was prevalent at Burning Man, but that was fine with me. My sister nicknamed me “The Kissing Bandit” years ago, due to my love for stealing kisses from strangers. Kissing is fun and relatively harmless. I say relatively harmless because sometimes a kiss with the right person can suddenly become a bit more dangerous. I was also forewarned that it was too hot, dirty, sweaty, and public to even consider sex at Burning Man. That was also fine with me. I had come to Burning Man to spend quality time with my good friends, and not to stick to some random guy in a steamy, muddy tent.

What was not forewarned to me, however, was the possibility that I could open my mind, body and (little girl) soul to a complete stranger. I hadn’t come well prepared in terms of shelter, food and clothes to keep me warm. And I most certainly had not come prepared for love. But as everyone told me, the playa provides.

I was incredibly surprised to discover that a good percentage of the 50,000 or so Burners were fairly young and attractive. My first couple of days at Burning Man awakened the Kissing Bandit and I innocently enjoyed little kisses here and there with funny men dressed in costumes. Whether it was to get a drink at the bar, or pre and post-nuptials to a drunk, fairly obnoxious but funny man that asked the Heavens to bind our love, my kissing needs were being more than met.

And then I met my Burning Man lover, who unintentionally put an end to my kissing escapades. He was a friend of a friend of a friend, and a fellow first time Burner taking refuge in the RV parked besides us. If I’m not mistaken, we first met at the bar of Distrikt, our camp and also one of the biggest day parties at Burning Man. I do not remember our conversation (I was engrossed in pre-birthday celebrations and the spiked smoothies were killers) but I DO remember asking his name a second time once he told me we were neighbors. I hardly remember people’s names and only try to make a strong effort once I know I’ll be seeing them again. I’d like to change that. Every person we meet is important. Whatever else we discussed in that first intoxicated encounter is beyond me. But I do remember having an innate attraction to something kind in his face and spirit.

He had me at Happy Birthday. My concept of time from Burning Man is mushy. It all blends in to one long day and night for me, but a good marking point is my 30th birthday, which was Day 3 of the week. I guess at some point during my drunk conversation with my Burning Man lover the day before I had mentioned my birthday because while we were eating scrambled eggs à la Morgan, he came over to give a quick hug and to say “Happy Birthday.” It was just a small gesture, and one that many other people gave me that day, but when you are keen on someone it’s just those small gestures that make your stomach twirl.

Later that day Ashley and I were watching the sunset from the roof of the RV when my Burning Man lover climbed up to say hello. He made a sweet comment about my eyes. Men, if you don’t want a girl to give you that special look, never, never compliment her eyes. As he crawled back down the ladder, one of my best friends and my soul mate from the past twenty or so years looks at me and says, “Um. What is going on there?” My response was something along the lines of, “Um. You pick up on it too?” “Go for it,” she told me.

That’s all it took. Suddenly all those naked men in fur boots dissolved and the Kissing Bandit, unbeknownst to her, set her eyes on her birthday booty. I just had to convince him to come out to celebrate my birthday with me and my friends! It did not take so much convincing…

photo by Krystal

The night of my birthday was magical. First of all, I was reunited with my best friends and they were all dressed in white. Secondly, we were at Burning Man and I was in complete awe of the night light. Thirdly, I learned how to hula hoop. And last but not least, I got completely lost in a kiss.

We were on the long, difficult adventure of trying to find the mythical white party in a large group, when suddenly my Burning Man lover planted a kiss on me. I’m not sure how long we kissed, but it was long enough to lose all my friends. We opened our eyes and our friends were nowhere in sight. Getting lost at night on the playa is like a five-year old getting lost at Disneyland. And apparently, trying to find the infamous white party is like trying to chase your shadow. Part of me was anxious because I really wanted to spend my birthday night with my friends. And another part of me whispered, relax. You are in good company.

And that’s how it began. A kiss so mind-blowing that I got lost. I lost my friends (we eventually found them, which was quite the adventure in and of itself.) But more importantly I lost my sense of logic. I lost my insecurities. I lost my worries. I lost the what if’s and the how’s. I lost my inhibitions. And I lost the facade I normally put on when I like a guy.

Let me say now that I am blessed by amazing friends. Sometimes I look around and wonder what I did right to have such stellar, unique, creative, loving, interesting, caring people all around me. Not only are they around me, they would move the world for me. And they constantly ARE moving the world for me. I feel so lucky. I’ve slowly learned that this is not pure chance. I acknowledge that somehow I have attracted these people into my life and that I deserve them. Hopefully I have moved the world for them too and if not, they know I would. So when my friends ask me constantly, “Why are you not attracting an amazing guy that loves you like we love you?” I just shrug my shoulders and wish I had the answer.

But I think I have the answer now. I am not myself with men. I change.

When getting ready for a date, my old roommate would tell me repeatedly, BE YOURSELF. She was one of the first people to point out that I change radically in the presence of a guy I like. My pocket-sized friends Emilie and Kate, for reasons unknown to me, like to remind me every day how amAzing I am (which is why I call them pocket-sized friends…I like to carry them around with me wherever I go). They too are always telling me to relax and just be myself. They say that these guys are so unfortunate to not know the real Regan!

Man. What would I do without my friends? Seriously. [sigh]

ANYHOW. Back to Burning Man. And my Burning Man lover. And our kiss. And all the following kisses and embraces and conversations we shared throughout the week. And the way that I allowed myself to connect with someone in such a healthy, honest and positive way. It felt so good.

My Burning Man lover somehow saw through all the charades I normally act out. He found the things I was most self-conscious about and encouraged them. I’m a quirky girl. There is no “I” in “Normal”. But I felt safe letting down my guard with him. I released the bizarre, at times incoherent, playful, serious and untamed Regan for him. The same Regan that attracts all the beautiful friends I have. And I saw a sparkling reaction in his eyes and smile whenever he caught my wild moments of vulnerability. While I got completely lost, or tried to hide, he found me. And held me tightly. I think he liked the real Regan, fully exposed. And to tell you the truth, so did I.

I feel so incredibly grateful for meeting him. My heart is still smiling and my little girl soul will always remember how he peeked through the curtains to watch her dance obliviously. He may have thought she was dancing alone, but behind her closed eyelids, he was right there dancing along with her.

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I think it’s safe to say that I’ve lived through some pretty crazy and remarkable experiences, but few compare to Burning Man. I cannot define Burning Man. But to set the scene a bit for those unfamiliar with the event, 50,000 people meet in the desert of Nevada to camp in a creative, communal and dusty environment for one week. There are art installations and djs. Pimped out bike riding and topless teeter-totters. The only things available for sale in this city are ice and coffee. Besides that money is prohibited. Lots of love and very very very little clothing during the day and tons of fur at night. 1,500 art cars that you can hop on and off to ride through the desert sands. And on the last days they burn a huge wooden structure of a man and a temple.

Got it? Probably not. It’s just too hard to explain. I think each person has his or her own experience and I don’t feel the need to classify or reduce the experience into a conceptual heading. What I can do, however, is share my own experience of Burning Man with you.

The best way I can describe my experience of Burning Man is by comparing it to the blind man scene in the movie Amelie. I imagine myself feeling something similar to the blind man when Amelie spontaneously takes his arm and leads him through the streets of Paris describing all the things around him he can’t see. For me Burning Man was all about the random acts of kindness from strangers. And how these acts and these strangers create a new sense of clarity. And not to mention an overwhelming, breathtaking rapture of the senses. It was just a moment. A whirlwind in time. But after it was done my soul glowed new colors and I’ve spent the last week with eyes closed trying to relive it all, to somehow keep those memories, sights, sounds and tastes all present.

Bliss: my favorite art piece and the perfect portrayal of how Burning Man makes me feel

For some people Burning Man is a giant rave, an art festival, or a hippie thing. But for me, Burning Man is simply generosity and kindness. I should now mention that it was not just kindness from strangers. It was also extreme kindness and goodwill from amazing friends of mine that wanted to make my first Burn experience comfortable and memorable. Without them I would not have been able to fly to the event from Spain in the first place. Without them I would not have had a tent or sleeping bag to take 1-2 hour power naps every evening/morning (a dj set starting at 10am keeps you from getting any more sleep than that). Without them I would not have had wheels to move freely around the playa, one of my most favorite things to do. Without them (and their spare fur coats and leg warmers) I would have frozen my ass off. Without them I would have completely forgotten to eat. Without them, I would have cried and laughed alone.

I am so grateful. I went to Burning Man with the idea to actively participate in the gifting tradition. But once there I realized it was not possible. All I could do was soak it all in. I was so overwhelmed by it all. All I could do was say thank you. Next year I plan to be much more participative and will do my best to help a virgin Burner. I want to be not just the blind man, but also Amelie.

Not only did I see shooting stars every night (real ones), but according to the stranger that now calls himself my husband, shooting stars shoot out of me in broad daylight. Although he was drunk and licked my witness post-(fake) nuptials on the 4th floor of an art structure, I think he was on to something. Internally I was glowing and glittering. And the beauty of Burning Man is that you let your insides out. I was lucky to share some of these shooting stars externally with friends.

photo by Dave Adams

To make this particular event more significant for me, I turned thirty during Burning Man. I cannot imagine a better way to bring on this new decade than wearing a costume and dancing beneath the stars in a neon-lit desert with some of my closest friends. And not to mention watching the sunrise over the desert horizon with my best buddies sitting directly above me, their furry feet swinging from the rafter as I tried to hide out below them in the embrace of a guy that encouraged me to let go and be myself. He may actually deserve his own separate blog entry. Maybe he’ll get one. We’ll see.

Now let’s talk about sex. I live in Spain, a country where sexuality is pretty open and nudity is normal. We go to topless and sometimes nudist beaches and people make out for hours on street corners with zero shame. But Oh My God, I’ve never been in such a sexually charged environment in my life as Black Rock City, Nevada. The combo of really hot people wearing little to no clothing, mixed with the tradition of leaving all inhibitions at the door, made for a seriously hot and tempting gathering of free-spirited folk. I behaved fairly well, all things considered. But I still feel some of this energy dripping from my pores and can’t help but look around to see if someone’s ready to lap it up. I wonder when it will wear off? Until then, watch out Barcelona. This Burning (Wo)Man is on her way home!

My final anecdote about Burning Man concerns hula hooping. Burning Man has a way of making hula hoops stay up around your waist. I’ve never been able to hula hoop, no matter how hard I’ve tried over the years. But at Burning Man on my 30th birthday, I just picked one up and went for it. I remember screaming, “Holy crap! How is it staying up?” I invented the side-crab crawl, running horizontally back and forth all the while still incorporating the hoop. I almost died of laughter. Over the days I sought out hula hoops everywhere. They began to fall less and I learned to dance a bit and move my arms around more freely. There was no magic involved, but it sums up Burning Man perfectly for me. If you stop worrying about and over thinking something or trying too hard, it usually just works itself out. Being that I showed up to Burning Man with a huge bucket full of worries, I’d say this was my biggest lesson learned.

I was given the playa nickname, Hula Hoop. And I think it’s the perfect name to explain how I felt out there. Playful and sexy. Worry-free and in constant state of surprise and awe. My goal is to buy a hula hoop in Barcelona and to practice in the park. And not necessarily to learn new tricks or because I want to grow armpit hair. Just for no other reason than to remember how to be completely free and smile uncontrollably.

Thank you to my friends for making my first experience and my birthday so memorable. I am SO grateful. This is just the beginning…

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