I was reading a friend’s witty, poignant blog recently and was inspired by a post of “last year” sentiments she wrote a while back. I told her so, and we talked about the kinds of creativity that are often sparked by getting lost in someone else’s words and world for a little while. With her format in mind, I got to thinking about what last year was for me.
Last year was so much.
Last year was transatlantic flights and a delightful number of window seats. Last year racked up my frequent flyer miles and strengthened my resolve to (but really this time) start traveling much more lightly. Last year had bear hugs and heartbreak and the best gelato I’ve ever tasted. Last year was so many narratives, so many stories, so many beautiful places. Last year saw confused commitment and the utmost respect. Last year, the Indian Ocean was my backyard and for ten days in April, I lost and then found myself in silence and solitude.
Last year had distinct chapters and tough transitions. There were reunions and rekindling and so many goodbyes. There were bumpy bus rides and leaning out of trains as I gripped the rails behind me and stuck my chest into the wind, rain sprinkling on my face. Last year had so many good books and a record number of favorite songs. It had the best visitors and Post-it notes of love in all the right places. Last year was living in a crowded, chaotic capital city in south Asia and camping on riverbanks in a few different countries. Last year made me believe that impossible things somehow happen and imagined things sometimes stay that way—fairy dust ideas and the puff of air blowing out candles on the cake, birthday wishes that don’t come true.
Last year was bumping elbows with disappointment. It was the kind of laughter that had me throwing my head back and showing the world my silver fillings. Last year was soft flannel and sarees, running shoes but mostly bare feet. Nights sleeping in my underwear beneath my mosquito net and mornings herding cockroaches out of my room and onto the balcony. Last year was aches of missing him and her and them. It was tears of gratitude on plane rides. It was being welcomed back with handpicked flowers in a Tropicana bottle and homemade macaroni and cheese in a casserole dish. Last year was words. There were hours of writing and plans for a first book. There was poetry and handwritten letters and notes on napkins, chalkboards, and the back of my hand. Last year was the opposite of being sheltered. It saw some painful growing up and too many expectations. What last year lacked in cheese and ice cubes it made up in pol sambol and popcorn. What last year promised to be was all that and more but also somehow less.
Last year was fulfilled dreams and the privilege of working with eager, curious students. Last year reaffirmed my passion for teaching and convinced me to absolutely give all I’ve got to all that I love, even when it’s exhausting, even when I have no idea what it’ll amount to. Last year was a full passport and feeling ready to stay in one place for a while. It was a year that taught me humility and a special kind of grace. It showed me the crucial difference between naïveté and vulnerability. It had the best hike, kiss, and breakfast of my life. Last year was drinking out of coconuts on the sides of dusty roads and picking mangoes off trees in the backyard. It had decadent amounts of baklava in Istanbul and beer in Berlin. Last year was delicious.
Last year was humid and sweaty and, later, crisp and cold. It was surfing in the sea and building fire pits in the fall. Last year had stunned awakenings and the kind of hurt that makes you sick to your stomach. But it also had moments of intimacy so electric I forgot to breathe. It had vibrant connections and that feeling of being truly seen and understood. It had the fullest sky of stars I’ve ever seen.
If last year was a teetering seesaw, I hope this year is a rickety swing. The kind that an adult might eye with skepticism but a child runs toward with glee. The kind that promises moments of uninhibited joy if you accept the risk of falling, bruising, and maybe breaking bones. The kind that leaves you grinning and soaring, feet outstretched, ready to fly.
‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky.