A big chapter of my life came to an end a few days ago, and it left me drowning in a sea of wishful thinking.
What if I’d gotten a different job? What if I hadn’t texted that boy back? What if I’d been too scared to speak my mind? What if I hadn’t missed the bus on that day?
I was all set to wallow in my misery when my phone buzzed. A friend I made over the last few months texted to check in on me. And that’s when it hit me: this friendship wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for all the decisions I made this year – both good and bad. Neither would my recent epiphanies about myself and life and boys. Yes, there have been tough times… but with them came moments so full of life they’re still buzzing in my mind like fireflies in the dark.
I celebrated Thanksgiving a few days ago and it got me thinking about all the good things in my life. There are a lot – from small moments to big changes. The year is drawing to a close, and this list puts the past eleven months into the best kind of perspective.
London, United Kingdom
London is the love story I never expected. I moved here because I didn’t know where else to go after five years in the U.S., but I had no idea how important the city would become to me. I fell in love with London before I’d even realized I was getting attached, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else right now. The city has given me a second chance I never even thought possible. I was convinced I’d never belong anywhere out of the U.S., but boy was I wrong.
This year, I finally figured out who I am. And I happen to be an emotional, sensitive, hopelessly romantic. I want to be wooed and courted. I want to be picked up at the airport. I feel everything and I care even when I don’t want to, and even though there are days when I wish my heart would just stop it, mostly I’m grateful that I get to experience the world with such intensity. I’m pretty sure I’d be bored otherwise.
My Yellow Kitchen
I’ve always loved cooking and baking, but in the past I’ve gone from cooking a lot to eating out every day. I’ve evened out now. And spending time in my kitchen makes me so happy. I love planning meals, shopping for groceries, trying new things, investing my time and effort, and, mostly, at the end of it all, sharing food with friends. The ultimate reward.
I hate sports. No, really. P.E. was the bane of my existence in middle and high school and I’m terrible at every sport there is. But I have back problems that made the first half of 2014 very difficult, so I decided to take up swimming to keep the pain away and strengthen my back. The first time I ventured out to the swimming pool in my pink suit, cap and goggles this summer, I swan 300 meters and almost chocked to death. Repeatedly. Then something weird happened: I swam the last pool length, and my mind cleared. Now, every time I dive underwater, my thoughts melt away until it’s just me and the water and nothing else exists. I swim anywhere from 1 to 2k a week these days, and I actually can’t imagine my life without it. Who would have thought?
Old Friends and New Friends
Sure, even I have my moments when I feel so goddam alone. I think that’s just part of life. But I’m so lucky to have the friends that I have. I have a support system that can get me through even the toughest times, and this year, it did. People who listen to me, check in on me, sit with me in silence, make me laugh, take me on adventures, and make my life better.
Don’t ask me to pick between books and TV shows. All I know is that stories have saved my life over and over again. They’ve given it meaning, color and sense. All my favorite characters live within me, the same way my thoughts do. I wouldn’t be half of who I am without them.
So here’s to new stories in 2015, both real and fictional, and to new things to be thankful for.