This has been the hardest year.
Everything shifted in February with an apartment lease signed only by me, and permanence followed close behind, in July, with the court certifying the end of my marriage and my maiden name. I was advised to give myself a year to move through significant dates I would’ve shared with my ex-husband—because of the memories, and the traditions we used to enjoy. The holidays haven’t been easy … but I made it, and I saved money.
Every December I reflect what I’ve learned the past year and meditate on what I want for the next. 2018 is littered with difficult decisions and a lot of lessons (almost more than one person should handle, even though I did) but also, surprising revelations.
Turns out, I’m not an introvert. Surprise everyone! When my dad told me he always describes me as his “social butterfly”, I scoffed. But it seems I can’t go anywhere these days without making a friend so I’ve conceded this reality. Being extroverted feels more natural than I expected it to. How strange not to recognize this for so long. I’m grateful to have built my own little friend-family because of it though. Their support has been overwhelming.
I love being in the water. I’ve jumped into a swimming pool with all my clothes on, run into Puget Sound at two in the morning with no clothes on, and even waded in bioluminescent algae so I could pretend my skin was made of slimy glitter. The final scene in The Shape of Water? I get it. In another life, I was definitely a sea-dweller. (If I could choose, I’d opt-in as a dolphin or an angler fish. Or maybe a weird mashup of the two. I’m guessing my friends are surprised I didn’t choose a narwhal.)
I’m sentimental, mostly with family heirlooms. I used to want to be a minimalist, and I still don’t want to collect a bunch of shit for no reason, but I’m happy to acquire familiar things from my childhood, or my parent’s childhood, or their parent’s childhood. You get it.
My grandmother’s Snugglebun (the first Snuggie!),—quilt-patterned with floral and paisley swatches in brown, orange, and yellow—I snap and zip myself into and sleep like I did when I was a kid;
my mom’s crucifix necklace I wear even though I no longer subscribe to Christianity,
and her mom’s timepiece necklace with 17 rubies inside the gears. My grandpa bought it in France for my grandma, when he was in the war.
My dad’s jean jacket from the 70s that inadvertently identifies my style as “cyberpunk”. (I didn’t know what it is either. Google it.) It’s over-sized with holes in the elbows and epic tails. It’s perfect.
I don’t clean nearly as often as I used to. I like a little dirt on the floor, unfolded clothes, and dishes stacked in the sink. I used to explain that my obsessive cleaning was my way to deal with stress. I have a tattoo of a French maid pinup for a reason. Friends and guests would observe my spotless home and laugh, deducing my stress levels must be over the top every single day. They weren’t necessarily wrong (and I never admitted to how stressed I actually was), although I think it was more about control. It’s nice to know I’m just not as stressed or worried about control these days.
I willingly put myself in situations I’ve never experienced. Sometimes awkward. Okay, almost always awkward. With the rise of my social tendencies, it’s fun learning how people have been living their lives so differently from how I’ve lived mine up to this point. I’m an experimenter overwhelmed with options, carefully sorting what I want my own life to look like. The number of firsts I’ve had this year, I can’t count on my ten fingers. Maybe I’ll tell you about them later.
I love to love. I find it easy to fall in love and stay there when expectation is removed. And I’m not talking romantic love. Telling my friends I love them has become common practice. When you accept that the needs you have extend beyond what one person can realistically provide, you find your needs met by an assortment of people in a variety of ways. It’s been a decade since I’ve felt this … whole; and I’m ending this year full up.
Becoming Gurley again has reminded me who I once was and who I still am. The space my ex-husband filled, I’m learning how to fill with myself, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job of it. I’ve ventured on my own plenty of times, and I always find my way.
I have big plans for 2019, and I think it has big plans for me. So here’s to a new year of more new normal moments. And here’s to your new normal, whatever it may be.