In just about an hour and fifteen minutes I’m going to turn 24. It is not a particularly glamorous age-change this year – I don’t get any new privileges or rights. However, I have to say that closing out 23 is rather poignant, as this past year has been one of particular curiosity. So instead of talking politics or texting executives, I’m going to reflect on this past year in a very personal way.
23, you were rough. Whenever I reach a birthday, I try to make the year seem as positive as possible, and tell myself that though there were certainly downs throughout the year, overall I came out on top. This year, however, I am not sure I can tell myself that with a straight face. A lot of very sad, very confusing things took place this year. I’m wondering if this is something inherent to the age range in which I fall, so those of you out there in your early twenties, let me know if you feel similarly to however I end up describing the strange experience of turning 24.
Trustworthy sources tell me that the 20s are supposed to be confusing. It is an adolescent period all over again – now I find myself torn between that final safety net of college and the vast, hazy, amusing and often terrifying prairie known as adulthood. Instead of working part time at a cafe to support myself as I get an education, I’m working full time to pay off that education. So, despite the occurrences that took place this year, the period of time between last July and this one started off in a funky wa, to say the least.
Returning from South America, I selected Columbus, Ohio as the location of my next move. Here are the reasons I chose Ohio:
- My sister, who I adore, and her boyfriend, who I also adore, lived there and invited me.
- I had never lived in Ohio before.
- It sounded kinda funny.
- I had heard mostly bad things about Ohio, and so I wanted to investigate.
- It was only temporary.
Fast forward 2 months in Ohio, and I’m jobless and broke, in debt to my patient sister, and so disoriented due to the lack of ocean that I lose myself as soon as I step outside of my sister’s quaint and slightly askew Ohio home.
Around this time, my beloved dog Autumn succumbed to old age. If God exists, then I have a bone to pick about dogs’ life expectancies. It is so cruel and unfair to have a sweet, innocent and loving animal taken away from you, particularly when you are far away. It is one of those sadnesses that, no matter how much armor you think you have put on, will slice your heart in two. I still miss my little Autumn almost every day, and wonder what it would be like now, to have her here, cuddled by my feet snorting like a pig while she slept. I bet I’d feel a little better.
As I sunk lower into depression in Ohio, realizing how difficult it would be to escape, I was slammed with a greater loss; I experienced the pain of losing a young friend for the first time. Matt Starring, for those of you who didn’t know him, was a solid human being. He was a role model for the human race. Sadly he, like so many others, died too young from cancer. Matt’s death brought me halfway across the country by bus, where I reunited with friends who were even closer to Matt and his family than I had been. Those few days in Rhode Island were some of the most painful, but also some of the most eye opening. I will say this – I hope that when I die, my funeral is at least half as fun as Matt’s.
The shock of losing Matt, and the rattles it sent through my closest friends, still move me on a regular basis. His death was a first, and though I’m sure to lose more loved ones in the coming years, this loss will stick with me, I’m certain.
The days before Matt’s funeral also proved to me that I needed to get out of Ohio, which I did rather swiftly, after a lovely trip to Puerto Rico with my loving boyfriend (at the time) and my adorable and incredible parents. Here we have the highlight of the year. In a few short days I jumped off a cliff several times, felt the sting of a jelly fish, and skinny dipped in ocean water the color of…well…
Next I made an uncharacteristic move – I retreated. Back to somewhere I had been before, where i sit now, a city that has merged in with my blood almost as much as the alcohol. Once again, I neglected to remember that after you leave somewhere, the place continues to exist. One can never truly return to a place they’ve left.
However, there are still things for me here. A new job brings new, intelligent friends who make the somewhat diabolical work I do meaningful. Old friends are still fantastic and sharp, and though many are moving away, they are moving to cities I am eager to visit, and which are nearby.
Furthermore, if everything goes as planned, this year I will be donating my own bone marrow to a stranger in need. I don’t know much about her, but I do know that she has developed the same kind of cancer that took Matthew. I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in elegant coincidences.
Life in Boston isn’t permanent, but it’s here, now. 24 begins in a half an hour.
So this has been kind of a downer of a post, but I’d prefer to think of it as a cathartic venting session on the past year of multiple fuckups. I’m sure part of my meloncholy tone comes from the fact that I don’t get to party hardy on my birthday, thanks to the bone marrow transplant. (More on that later.)
I do take pride in the composure I held throughout the year. I was going to try and end this post by saying something along the lines of: Now that 23 is over, 24 will be a bigger, better year. But the truth is, I have no idea what’s in store for me. That’s how I like it – I’m no tralfamadorian.
I will leave with something slightly more positive. When I’m really low on cash (like right now) I often find solace in the fact that in a couple weeks, I won’t even remember this point when I was desperate for money.
And that, I hope, is how I can look back at 23. The darkness of it will smear away while I remember those good things – picking up hermit crabs the size of my nose, listening to my boyfriend play jazz piano, eating a buffalo chicken sandwich with my best friend, scratching the ears of dogs that said hello as they passed me on the street…