last year

It's important to look forward. But I believe there are times that it's important to look back, too.

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Last year was my third living in Los Angeles, and my first second full year of doing so alone. Last year I grew used to doing things completely on my own, and without a car. I got better at being a city dweller. I found shops and services that meet most of my household needs, that I can reach on foot or by bike. And I befriended some of the people that work there, making otherwise mundane chores a little more fun, and a little more interesting.

Last year I finally started to feel like downtown is my neighborhood, and Los Angeles is my home.

Last year I got more familiar with public transportation. I learned the Metro system well enough to be comfortable getting intentionally lost for an afternoon. Last year I started mapping out bus routes to some of the places I'd previously felt cut off from. Last year I missed driving my own car very badly at times, but I discovered the joys and freedoms of Zip Cars.

Last year I traveled three times: twice to attend music festivals, and once to take care of my dad.

Last year my father died. Last year I put his ashes out to sea five minutes after doing the same with my mother's. Last year I inherited and administered an estate, for the second time in three years. I sold my father's home and all of his belongings. Last year I decided which things of his I wanted to keep and carry for the next fifty years, and added them to those of my mom.

Last year a boy showed me a deep, selfless, and self-sacrificing love. He showed immense kindness and respect to a man he'd never met before, but by virtue of whose relationship to me, he was prepared to do anything for. Last year that boy propped me back up again and again and again, when I felt like I couldn't possibly stand. And on those times when I really couldn't, he stood for me.

Last year I ate magic mushrooms for the first time, and it was one of the funnest, happiest days of my life.

Last year I heard and saw music performed that rocked my soul and changed how I feel about music forever. Last year I danced and danced and danced and danced.  I danced in bars and clubs, in parking lots and fields, in the sun and in the rain, while I sweat and shivered, stone-cold sober and fantastically high. Last year I met my favorite band.

Last year I finally started to believe that I have complete control over my emotions. Last year I took terrifying steps towards emotional accountability and accepting that I alone am responsible for the things I feel.

Last year I wished for death more than once. And last year I had many, many moments of such heart-squeezing joy that I couldn't believe how lucky I was to be alive.

Last year I found a way to express, process, and find closure for painful feelings. Last year each appreciative comment I received from readers about my writing was like a string tied around my waist, tugging me forward on a path I sometimes can't make out below my own two feet.

Last year I spent a few months taking off my clothes for money. I rode a train and then my bicycle forty minutes for the privilege of doing so. Last year my nerve, patience, and resolution were tested beyond what they'd ever been, in a setting that made my heart ache for my soul. Last year I put myself in that position, and didn't try nearly hard enough to get out of it. Last year I was lazy, and I was scared.

Last year I hid behind my grief for far too long. Last year I used grief as a closet in which I could hide from difficult truths and frightening realities. I used it as a shield and I used it as a weapon.

Last year a woman who found my blog and read my writing reached out to me and said, "You're talented. Work with me."

Last year I dated three five four men, and had the best sex of my life, which is what I said the year before, and which is what I hope I'll be able to truthfully say again next year, too.

Last year I ran for miles, as far as I could, in every direction that the streets and freeways would allow me. Last year I stopped gaining and losing the few pounds I'd flirted with for two decades, and settled at one hundred and fifteen pounds. Last year I loved, appreciated, and enjoyed my body more than I ever have, in spite of being diagnosed with a thyroid disorder and finding out I'm not as tall as I thought I was.

Last year my circle of friends shifted. It shrank, then expanded. Last year I was surprised by the company I found myself keeping. Last year I worked to keep the torches of some friendships lit, while others I allowed to go out. Last year my friends saved my life. They saved my fucking life.

Last year I shed the last ugly bits of trauma from my previous winter, and learned to love myself again. I rediscovered my self-esteem, polished and protected it, and moved it out of the reach of anyone else. Last year the words and actions of lovers and friends - and lovers who became friends - helped with that immeasurably. Last year I started to understand what my values are, and how to honor them. I realized the importance of emotional boundaries, and started shoring them up tight. Last year I said "no" to some really, really, tempting offers that would have had me busting those boundaries.

Last year I fell in love with blogging again, and this year, my wish for myself, is to fan the flame of inspiration by keeping my eyes, ears, and heart open to everything around me.

Thank you all, familiar or anonymous, friendly or hostile, for watching me be me, for yet another year.