Lesson in progress

Marilyn Monroe

I’ve never really been big on New Year’s Eve celebrations. I can count on only two hands the number of times I did anything on December 31, like the year I went to Toronto on New Year’s Eve with my Malaysian friends, the following year when I went to Florida with the same group and came to detest road trips, and the year after when the Royal Pitches and Buffalo Chips were invited to sing at Governor Elliot Spitzer’s inauguration in Albany. The years that followed were quiet ones, as I had quickly come to realize that I was really not a fan of boisterous crowds all over the streets on a day which meant nothing more than any other day to me.

I suppose, then, that people were understandably taken aback when they asked what my plans for today were and I told them I’d be somewhere up in the air (hopefully, as opposed to at the bottom of an ocean), completely unaware of the time zones as I make my way back to Malaysia. After all, how many times does one need to see the ball drop in Times Square?

These last two weeks I spent in a Buffalo have been, if nothing else, contemplative. People were surprised that I chose to go to Buffalo, of all places, at this time of year, and I had to reassure them that I lived here for nearly five years, therefore I was well aware of what little it had to offer. I knew what I had come back here for, and it wasn’t for the roaring nightlife. I had wanted to get away from the harsh realities of my life, out from under the shadows of certain people whose very existence gives me nightmares, and away from the excruciating void that takes over my soul three times a year.

Did it work? I’ve been asked. Yes and no. But there will always be those three times a year to try and make it work. And if it never works, then I will just have to learn to live with it and figure out the sense of it all.

That has been the theme of my entire year: making sense. I started off the year in a rut so deep that I didn’t know how to get out of it without leaving a blood trail in my wake. But my mistakes eventually caught up with me, and I was thrown into a no-win situation where I had to just stop asking why some things turned out the way they did, and make the best of what I been left with.

For instance, this was the first time in all my six years of gainful employment that I did not receive a single response to any of my job applications. Not a one. When I finally decided to stop wondering why and just start focusing on building on my freelance work and dabbling in business, I realized that a reason was no longer necessary.

This was also the year that I ceased communication with some people who had previously been a significant part of my life. Whether by unfortunate circumstances or just the course of time, we had ended up in very different places, and I realized that I had not so much lost them as friends, as we had just reached an unspoken understanding that things would never be the way they once were, and they had other things to do with their lives now. It hurt for a little while, but again, once I stopped trying to figure out why it had come to this, I understood what it takes to learn who your true friends are, and just how little your friendships means to those who aren’t. And while I’ve come to distinguish who I would go to the ends of the earth for, I’ve also learned to let go of the few whom I know would be all right without me in their lives.

Despite the losses and the disappointments, I also gained a lot this year. I was able to travel much more in this year alone than I had in the last few years combined. I was able to reforge many friendships and learn to let people into my heart a little bit. And I learned what it really means to love someone unconditionally, even if it comes at a price that sometimes seems too high to pay.

As the year wore on, I had to learn to recondition my thought processes and try to look at certain things the way I had been told they were. That didn’t work out very well, but it’s something I will be working on for a very long time.

So now here we are, a year older, hopefully wiser, but still no skinnier. This year has been one giant learning curve, and even though the lesson came a bit late in life, I suppose it was high bloody time it came anyway. And as I’ve been told far too many times this year, everything happens for a reason, and until I know what that reason is, I’ll just have to sit tight and hope I don’t fall off this ride.

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