An improvement from the last

“2008 really couldn’t be any worse, could it? There isn’t anywhere else to go but up.” – Me, December 31, 2007

Another year gone by. A year filled with many transitions, and a great many more lessons. I remember ending last year and beginning this one on a slightly happier note, because I had sorted some parts of my life out and I was looking forward to the change that I had so badly needed, and because my life had a new addition that, although very new at that point, had given me reason to smile again after a long time.

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to say, “It was a good year.” In reality it kind of was; not estatically great, but not so bad that I would wake up wondering what the point of waking up was, the way I did last year. There were the hard times: packing to ship my life home, packing to move to Boston, and then finally packing to come back home, leaving behind the life, the places and the people I had loved for so long, and adapting to a new life in a different part of the world without the presence of one whom I had long grown used to and had to learn to live without.

There were moments when I felt like giving up, days when I got out of bed feeling in my bones that I wanted to run away, back to the life I’d had to give up, days when I didn’t want to get out of bed because I just didn’t see the point of doing so, nights when I lay awake and turned everything over and over in my head until I wanted to physically stamp the memories out.

But then there were the good times: welcoming my godson into the world — probably the closest I will ever get to having my own children — knowing that I would give up my life for him, going through an intense and life-changing five weeks in Boston, where I met people whom I can’t imagine never having met, reestablishing old friendships after a three-year hiatus, and practically falling into a job that I surprisingly like.

And there was that feeling: that feeling of knowing that come hell or high water, I had to will every fiber of my being to just hold on, that feeling of quiet pride when I told myself, “You’ve come this far, what’s a little further?”, and that feeling of anticipation that came with holding on to my faith and the belief that at some point everything would be all right. It was a feeling that I hadn’t felt in a very long time, that was never present at all last year.

So what if I had struggled for the life I wanted last year? So what if I eventually had to learn to let go of that life, coming into this year? So what if I had to pick up the pieces of a broken heart all over again — even though it was my fault — the way I did last year? The lessons I learned from those troubles would stay with me longer than the heartache would.

Back in January, Kate, my last tattoo artist in Buffalo, told me, “Sometimes it’s good to get a chance to regroup and think about your next step in life. Granted going all the way home to regroup is a little farther than you’d like, but there’s always something waiting for you regardless of where you go. If you tried to go to another country to teach, you might not make it as a teacher, but you could end up doing something bigger and better. If you’re going home mainly to regroup, you could end up doing something you’ve always wanted to do in a place you never imagined you’d be doing it. The memories you have now could be nothing compared to the memories you’re about to get.”

She was right.

It was a good year.

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