I keep trying to find the words to sum up the last year. And I keep stopping in my tracks because it was unceasingly cruel to people I know and love. 2018 left wounds that will never heal. They will scab and reopen for as long as we all breathe. I feel guilt for how my year ends while theirs drags on.
For my part, I know I crossed midnight from 2017 to 2018 in tears. I was alone and longing. In love and far from the one who loved me. I didn’t know if there would ever be a resolution, or a closing of our gap. This continued until June. The gap closed for three days in which the world around us disappeared. The chasm yawned again when he left, wider, rawer, and more uncertain, at least for me. I knew what I wanted. I knew what I needed. I didn’t know how to achieve it.
In July, death came calling again after losing my dog in April. This time, when it knocked on my door, I didn’t let it in, so it went to my neighbors, my friends, instead. I spent nearly the entire month mourning. I still mourn today. I mourn not only the lights gone out, but my failures in the immediate wake of those losses; my inability to bring to fruition anything to provide a balm apart from my presence at memorials. I was barely treading water in my own sea.
In August, my year began to turn. I traveled to new places with my one in six billion person. In the Las Vegas Four Seasons, on the 37th floor, he proposed to me. He said, “when you’re ready, I want to marry you.” I said yes. I said it because it felt right. I said it because this was different than before. I said it because we meant it. We wanted to be together. We wanted to build something to better each of us and not just ourselves or the other. We share goals, philosophies, and bone deep desires.
I returned to my empty home, and I immediately began preparations to sell the place where dreams had been born and died for six years. I’d brought in lives and said goodbye to them. I’d made hard decisions, outgrown relationships, and found myself in the rubble. The house stood strong around me, just as it had for a century prior to my finding it. At the same time I was selling the place, I was giving notice at my job of nearly a decade, looking for and accepting a new one two thousand miles away.
In mid October, I found myself saying goodbye to my chosen family, my friends, all the things good and bad I’d known for my entire adult life. My fiancé flew in and we packed a storage container in three days before driving another three with my sick, elderly cat in the backseat. I was still certain this was right even as I told my Shieldmaiden the night before I left, “I’m not avoiding you; I just need to get this packed,” while my voice broke, and we both stood together sobbing, my fiancé looking on, feeling responsible for both our pain.
I began my new job a week after arriving here. About that, I was uncertain, and am still at times. It supports me financially, but it doesn’t fulfill anything deeper. It’s not a labor of love. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
The entirety of the rest of my new roles has been natural, bonds forming and strengthening with little effort on my part. Other things have been harder, less seamless, but nothing is ever perfect.
In December, I spent my 38th birthday feeling more loved than I have in years. My partner proposed again, this time at Donner Pass. I again said yes. Still sure of its rightness. Surer.
The remainder of 2018 left me happier, in better shape in all ways than I’ve ever been, so on December 18th, I told him I was ready. We organized a small ceremony on December 22nd at the base of a mountain, standing in the snow, promising to take care of each other, to have adventures, to support the growth of our best selves, and to be best friends for as long as fate will let us. We laughed as our officiant cut out entire swaths of her words to accommodate his impatience to kiss me.
While we were organizing the moments that would solidify our union, our offer on a house was accepted, cementing a place for our little family to thrive, and we currently wait in escrow to close.
We spent the last weekend of the year honeymooning in San Francisco, him showing me the places he grew up, excited about my first experiences. We had dim sum in Chinatown, kissed at Fisherman’s Wharf with the seals barking behind us, and walked the beach getting caught in the tide collecting sand dollars.
While I began the year in sorrow, I ended it in joy. I fell asleep next to my husband before midnight on New Year’s Eve, sober, safe, and feeling a security brand new to me. I know myself, have faith in my partner, and know that our shared dreams will come true due to determination and open communication. We make each other better each day. The work and time it took to get here seemed insurmountable most of the time we were in it, but now that it’s here, it was more than worth it. I would do all of it again.
I don’t make resolutions, but I do have hopes. I want things to be easier this year. I know it will present challenges, but I want less pain, less loss, and more contentment for everyone I know. I want to keep seeing new things, falling in love each day, doing things that scare me, and strengthening the bonds I’ve forged.
My hope for you is the same as my hope for myself. The work isn’t selfish. The conversations, though hard, will make you better. The leaps, small and large alike, will still advance you even when something else takes you back. I hope this year is kinder, gentler, that we all find new joys. I want our pain to be less.