2009: A (Slightly) Sentimental Year in Retrospective
Maybe 2009 was the year for adult accomplishments, the ones like getting and working at my first two internships, both of which, despite their sometimes trying hours of sitting and refreshing a screen, desperately hoping for a distraction, the headaches and burning eyes at repetative tasks, taught me and motivated me so much more for the future that I envision. I remember when having an internship seemed like the most romantic thing in the world, and somewhat impossible to achieve. Scouring Ed2010 or Craigslist and emailing countless resumes and cover letters felt like college applications all over again (and later, apartment hunting would feel like the same thing), but I must have forgotten that this is my reality and it fits exactly the way it should.
Or, apartments-the wretched drama that accompanied each one, for the excitement and discovery of a new (albeit temporary) home, for the lifestyles and possibilities each glimpse at a different one offered, for finding one on my own and the little joys that comes with sort of living alone–and all the pains that stranger roommates accompanies. For the uncertainty and the potential for disaster.
With the apartment I learned that I am capable of everything I could have ever imagined on my own. More than ever, I am in love with and in charge of my independence and, especially in New York, it’s invaluable knowledge. But with independence came an edging awareness of solitude, and loneliness. Nights where I felt entrapped and completely distanced from the rest of the world, my classmates, my friends. Irrational thinking, of course, but to tell myself that at 2am on a Friday night after a week spending evenings at home, alone, was a hard mistake to correct.
So I found distractions–lots of them. Boys with faces and names that are no longer burned into my memory like past lovers had been, nights marked off with an x–sometimes not even, only what came after time I spent with my real friends, or rushing off after an afternoon adventure to a late night rendezvous. I guess it’ll never be the way it was in high school–a crush that burns my lidded eyes in sleep, a name that dictates my thoughts. (If it was, it was always the wrong thoughts about the wrong ones, ones that bite and cut into exposed flesh, ones that demand song lyrics with a razor sharp sting.)
I might have convinced myself of love–half of it, anyway. A broken heart–or at least half of one. A smile, a gesture that’d flash into mind anytime I heard certain songs. But it was never real. I knew better than to allow it to be.
So there was that, and a certain power that came with it. It was no longer a forbidden, impossible mystery but always a phone call away. It was no longer a Romance. with a start and end, definitions and names and rituals but the memory of one stray comment (“When people talk about someone having beautiful eyes it’s always a lie–you have beautiful eyes, though”), the hints of a mark on skin. There was the unexpected show of interest I once marveled over that became so commonplace as to be vulgar. There was understanding and doing things for the sake of doing them and every little thing in between.
There was the disappointment and what ifs and false hopes and daydreams and ghosts that haunted the blur of consciousness between the night’s sleep and the morning’s bright call. There was the shadows of despair and perhaps, an even worse enemy, apathy.
And, it seemed, not only in the matters of the heart (and body). 2009 was the year when I began to grow disenchanted with New York , disenchanted with a lot of things. Last year, every adventure, every season, ever decision and change was bolded and glittered, but I can hardly remember distinct events that happened, can hardly remember a specific day or night when I simply waited for the pour of summer rain to wake me up from the echoes of the past. I found myself nostalgic, found myself habituated to what the city had to offer–even though, they were exquisite, they were the same incredible surprises and flashes of inspiration. I just had to look harder. But looking harder took that much more convincing.
I suppose it’s simply inevitable with time. I can never maintain that bright eyed excitement of initial discovery, and can no longer always feel the thrill of that first love–but if I look hard enough, I can still find snapshots, and better, new ones.
Because, ah, you’re dreading the moment, but I can’t help it, of course, of course I have to write about writing. 2009, more than ever, was the year I knew without a doubt that this was going to be my future–completely. No more half hearted guessing at a future at marketing or psychology or anything ‘practical.’ 2009 was when a teacher told me “you can’t be dumb if you tried” and the stories and words I wrote came with a new coat of paint, this one soaked in fearless honesty and deliberate beauty. 2009 was when I realized that my passion and career didn’t have to deviate from one another, when every grand ambition I ever had seemed not so far from becoming true.
And that, that knowledge, that feeling, that burning and golden key in the middle of my heart, protected from cynicism and regret and loss and fear is what I’m taking with me to a new year, a new decade. No more self doubts and pathetic attempts at reaffirmation–I already know what I’m capable of (and it’s so much more, and so much better than just endless daydreams without action), I already know what the world has to offer when I go after it. (“The road to rejection is better than no road at all,” as Stephen Malkmus coos from my stereo.) I won’t chase after a life too glamorous to be true and embrace the one I’m living–it’s already doing pretty well, anyway. I can’t wait for the new year–with fresh enthusiasm and untainted hope, with a confidence that seeps through my every step and every word, and the ambition that is no longer just a word, and the second guessing that stops, and maybe even allow myself to fall in love along the way. You know, the way it was, the first time, from the start.