For the past couple days now, I haven’t been able to fall asleep before three or four in the morning–and believe me when I say it isn’t for lack of trying. I’d like nothing more than to turn off my brain, silence my stream of consciousness, and drift away peacefully, creating invisible little zZzZzZzs as I snore lightly. But I just… can’t.
Instead, I sit swathed in sweaters, drinking tea in front of my computer screen, writing. I’ve been writing some very sad things lately–some very nostalgic things. I’m not sad myself per se… I’m just really damn good at writing sad, nostalgic things. Hell, I won a trophy for writing sad, nostalgic things (why yes, I am an EVVY award winning writer, thanks for asking)! I’ve been trying to piece together the events of my life the past year and make some sense of what I feel about it all. It’s a perfectly natural thing to do right now, when the end of a school year is a significant milestone, a turning point. I’m still young enough to mark my growth by grade and I’m clinging desperately to that habit. Standing on the edge of the cliff that is my first summer as an independent, functional adult, it’s frustrating to not know what to make of these past 12 months. Did I do everything I wanted to? Was it a happy year? A sad year? A productive year? A stagnant year? I don’t know! And if you know me, you know I hate not knowing.
In writing personal essays and memoirs, there’s a certain distance one has to have with the events they’re writing about–it can’t be too fresh or too recent. Trust me, that pretty much always results in shitty writing. Very shitty, cliche, angsty writing. And I think the same can be said for self-reflection in general–there’s got to be some distance before it can happen.
Last year, I spent my summer relaxing at home with family and visiting relatives I hadn’t seen for six years in Europe. If I can get metaphorical for a moment, I would compare last summer to tree roots growing and digging deeper into the ground, clinging desperately to ancient soil. This summer is all about that tree growing upward, growing taller, expanding its branches, and maybe even flowering a few blossoms. This summer is the first I’ll spend living away from home, working at least two jobs, and pursuing a career path. Oh boy.
Everything in between is a chaotic blur. There’s not enough distance for my to make sense of it. But these are the cold, hard facts:
1. I was a crappy friend and made the mistake of choosing a boy over someone more important.
2. I pledged a sorority and I’m damn proud.
3. I choreographed my first entirely contemporary dance.
4. I got invited to a Boston Fashion Week show, interviewed a designer, and wrote about it.
5. I discovered the amazing spoken word poet, Sarah Kay.
6. I attended the wedding of a close family friend and fell in love with the idea of love.
7. I grew a pair of balls and flirted shamelessly.
8. I learned to love my body and much as I love eating.
9. I pulled a lot of all-nighters.
10. I danced in a hip-hop company and wasn’t horrible.
11. I saw more of Massachusetts.
12. I tried my hand at event planning.
13. I revamped my resume and made it look freakin’ beautiful.
14. I was part of the launch of a brand new magazine on campus.
15. I let myself trust someone enough to date again.
16. I was really fucking happy.
17. I applied for my first internship ever.
18. I got my first internship ever.
19. I put my make-up on to Jessie J’s Domino every morning for three months straight.
20. I skied on the brand new Elan skis I’ve had since last Christmas.
21. I spontaneously booked a ticket to LA.
22. I celebrated New Years like a silly teenager for the first time.
23. I got to write and be published in a widely-read local lifestyle magazine.
24. I saw a lot of ballet for free.
25. I had my writing compared to that of Juhmpa Lahiri and nearly fainted.
26. I ate a lot of chinese food.
27. I went my first semester without a job or a source of income.
28. I had my heart broken and learned to cry without messing up my mascara.
29. I made the most incredible homemade pizza.
30. I caught the norovirus and ended up in the hospital.
31. I helped run a dance audition the morning after I got out of the hospital.
32. I finished every season of Weeds.
33. I got to know Boston’s bar scene.
34. I rediscovered my love for painting nails.
35. I had my first real spring break.
36. I traveled to California for the first time and spent a blissful 1o days in Los Angeles.
37. I went to Disneyland for the first time.
38. I turned TWENTY (and freaked out about it).
39. My best friend came to stay in Boston for my birthday.
40. I had a picnic on the Common.
41. I ate a lot of free catered lunches at my internship.
42. I got free temporary highlights, compliments of the internship.
43. I tanned on the Esplanade in a bikini.
44. I won an EVVY for non-fiction prose.
45. I learned just how petty and nasty people can be.
46. I also learned that for every petty and nasty person out there, there’s a person with a heart of gold.
47. I went back to being blonde.
48. I did my hair like Adele.
49. I danced a lot.
50. I got offered a paid writing gig by the editor-in-chief of the magazine I intern for.
51. I met some fucking incredible people.
52. I cried over having to lose some of those fucking incredible people as they move on with their lives.
53. I hated my professors and questioned my major.
54. I felt like a rockstar at my internship and reassured about my career path.
55. I felt entirely certain about myself one day and entire lost the next.
I tried to figure out how I’ve changed this year, because I know I have, and I’ve failed thus far, but I’m learning to give it some distance.