22 passed in the blink of an eye. It was a year of adventure and achievement, of high hopes and disappointments, of blue breezes and silver storms. But really, it was a year that simply stopped being about me.
With a global pandemic looming right outside my front door, most things that used to matter seemed to fade from view. For the first time since I moved out years ago, I went home to live with my parents and sisters for a few months. Anticipating lockdowns, there was nowhere I’d have rather been. Yet without the beloved staples of my life, I was left with so much time to sit alone and think. There were definitely moments when I’d rather not have thought at all, but as it were, I had plenty of time to consider what this past year has meant to me.
Though it feels almost impossible to remember life before Corona, there are so many memories from this year that I don’t want to lose in the chaos.
This year, I was all I needed, but I wasn’t all I had.
I had my friends. I was more present than ever before, wholly devoted to being as supportive and loving as I could possibly be. I smiled as their hearts filled with joy and I held them when they broke. I listened to their secrets and their screams. I laced up their wedding dresses. I thanked all my lucky stars for the beautiful people in my life, and I thanked those beautiful people for cherishing me for who I am. We’ve been striding forwards in this insane world we live in, remembering who we used to be and thinking about who we are now. Who we want to be.
This is my love letter to them. This is my love letter to Thanksgiving traditions and to overdue phone calls, to Ikea trips and to study sessions. My love letter to the paint parties, the dinner parties, the Taylor Swift listening parties, the power-outages in the middle of the parties and the pity parties. My love letter to the weddings, the wine festivals, the food festivals and the times we just spent all of our time together. This year would have been far less interesting without the pep talks before and the debriefs after.
I had my family. I’ve spent weeks trying to find the right words with which to describe how much my family means to me, and I haven’t been able to. They’ve saved me, by always being there, always loving me, comforting me, guiding me. I guess words just can’t do them justice. Every word is my love letter to them.
I had my home. There was a time when I thought I would have to move out of this apartment to get away from the ghosts that haunted it, but I changed my mind. I realized that all I needed to do was to fill it up with new light and new laughter. Make it mine again. On June 13th, on October 2nd, on December 26th. On countless occasions, I made this place my home.
I had freedom. The freedom to make mistakes, and regret them. The freedom to go where I wanted to when I wanted to (pre-Corona). The freedom to learn, to try and to take risks.
I took a risk. At 22, I tried again. It took a lot of courage to be vulnerable again. He never ended up having my heart, but he held my hand. As a second man walked out of my door and out of my life, I realized how truly comfortable I am on my own. I’m not running from myself, or running towards someone else. I’m truly content to just focus on my life, and when something real appears – I’ll know it. I won’t let it pass me by. Though I’m still terrified of experiencing another earth-shattering break up like I did last year, I’m doing everything in my power to ensure that the fear does not interfere with my new beginnings.
With everything going on around the world, the last few months of my life have felt vastly insignificant. My thoughts have been focused on topics so much bigger than my life, for better or for worse. How can I feel sorry for myself for missing my last semester of university when people out there are dying? How can I mourn being away from my friends when I am so incredibly lucky to be isolated with my family? While so many are struggling to find stable ground in the unknown, how can I pity myself and overlook all of my good fortune?
Though I spent such a long time picturing the triumphant last few months of my degree, it has taken me a surprisingly brief amount of time to accept that this story will end from afar. So long as I stay safe, and keep others safe, that’s all that matters.
In February, after my last exam of the first semester, I decided to sit on the faculty steps in the middle of my campus. It was evening, and very few people were milling about. There was a full moon. Aware that I officially had only one semester left in my entire university experience, I had the sense that I should commit the feeling into my mind. The feeling of being a student, the feeling of belonging on that campus, of knowing my purpose and my goals so clearly. I had no idea that I wouldn’t be returning to that campus as a student, but now more than ever, I’m grateful for my natural inclination to be sentimental and focus on appreciating what I have while I have it.
And so another huge chapter of my life is coming to a close. The end isn’t looking quite how I imagined it would. Despite that, and maybe partly because of it, I know that I’ll remember this chapter forever. What I’ll remember most, is how much stronger I am at the end than I was at the beginning. I’ll remember the nerve I needed to gather over these three years to make it through. I’m older, and I’m wiser. Everything I have learned in this degree will serve me for life, whether it be knowledge I gained from a book or from the unique experiences along the way (“I’m 9th!”). The opportunities I was afforded were truly once-in-a-lifetime. I’m grateful. For that, and for absolutely everything else.
Another three years have gone by, another era has ended, and it’s time for a new adventure. As much as I hate goodbyes, I really love new beginnings.
I guess this is my love letter to them.
23 – I’m ready for you.
“It was the end of a decade but the start of an age, I was screaming long live all the magic we made.” – Taylor Swift