It’s a new year, which means basically nothing except that there’s new days ahead and the possibilities they could bring are endless and exciting. There’s always new days ahead, no matter what time of the year it is. But, nonetheless, I like reflecting back on the past year and reminding myself all that I have experienced—good and bad.
But especially the bad, because the bad things that happen tend to be transformative and 2013 started out as a particularly bad year:
On today’s date, January 10th, last year my paternal grandmother passed away from COPD coupled with heart failure. My family was expecting it, she’d been on oxygen for a long time (years, really) and deteriorating in health rather quickly leading up to the date she passed. She lived in Florida, which is far enough away from New York to be a trip but extra far away from California. My workplace at the time refused to give me time off to travel home for her funeral because I had already used up my PTO days, and though I offered to go unpaid they still said I couldn’t, so I was left mourning from 3,000 miles away. I felt so detached from it all. I couldn’t help clean out her home, I didn’t feel like I could properly say good bye. I hadn’t seen her in a long time, either, which I felt horrible about. Getting back to the east coast when you live on the west coast is deceptively difficult, especially considering my family is spread out all over the east and not concentrated in any one state. All I had of her were some letters she sent me, which I held gingerly and reread as I let the full impact that she was gone wash over me. My dad sent me one of her little lighthouse sculptures, which she collected, and elephant bookends that were her mother’s, both of which I have on my bookshelves now.
Then, in February, I lost my job. I had been planning to leave for quite a few months prior, and had been job searching on the side, but the lay off was unexpected. Usually I bounce back from things like this pretty quickly, but coupled with the loss of my grandma I was rather out of sorts. It didn’t help that my boyfriend at the time was pressuring me constantly about searching for new jobs, which I was of course doing, spending the entirety of my days writing cover letters and redoing my portfolio and resume and sending hundreds of emails. (He thought I was wasting my time with cover letters, probably because he’s never had to write one.) No one was biting, and the interviews I did go on were not good fits. I ended up being unemployed for a total of 5 months before I found an amazing fit at the company where I am now. (And I am so happy there!)
Also in February, my great uncle (my maternal grandma’s brother) passed away. Again I was left without the ability to travel home for the funeral, though this time it was because I couldn’t afford to spend money to fly there while I wasn’t making any. I was crushed, and it was extremely frustrating.
On the first of April, I broke up with my boyfriend of 3 years. It was easily one of the hardest decisions I had ever had to make, but when I realized that it was the right decision and found the strength to make it, I felt so relieved. Despite the fact that this occurred in the middle of my unemployment and involved me moving out right away, I felt like such a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I haven’t regretted the decision at all.
With the breakup came the aforementioned moving out, getting a storage unit, and 5 months of living in the Tenderloin with my amazing friend LA, who I am so grateful to for letting me move in with her on such a short notice. She helped me through so much last year. (Thank you, if you’re reading this!) I had no furniture, which was thankful because I could get a smaller and therefore cheaper storage unit, but ended up not being very awesome when I finally did get my own place in September. Starting over, from scratch, while great in some ways is very difficult to do when you have no savings anymore (thanks, unemployment and lack of unemployment checks! I’m seriously still fighting for those, I only ever received one). The deposit on my apartment coupled with the first month’s rent and buying some rudimentary furniture (a bed, mattress, folding table & chairs, which remains all I have at the moment besides my desk and bookshelves that I purchased in November) added to the debt I had accumulated while being unemployed. Currently I have managed to pay more than half of it all off, which is great, but there’s obviously still more to go. I’m on track to be completely debt-free again by March, though.
Between April and May, I fooled around with a guy friend who insisted on keeping things casual instead of dating, which was fine by me because I wasn’t ready for dating again yet. I started up my OKCupid account again at the end of May. I went on lots (and I mean lots) more interviews, each one kind of disappointing. The stream of rejections was starting to become viscerally palpable to me, and I was feeling really defeated. The casual relationship probably didn’t help this, but c’est la vie. I’m very thankful for the astounding support network I have discovered in my friends.
June is when the downward spiral of my year started to finally take an upward turn. A friend of mine contacted me on Facebook about a job opening at the company he works for, and that same week I was in for a lunch interview and then again the next week for a more formal interview. I had an offer a week after that, and I was ecstatic! Also in June, along with those successful interviews, I went on a few dates with people I connected with on OKCupid, one of which was so successful that I canceled the future dates with other guys that I had already scheduled. We are still dating today, almost 7 months later.
On July 1st I started at the company I’m at now, and I absolutely love my job and my team. All the people I work with are amazing, I feel rather lucky to have my friends as my colleagues. It’s the first time I’ve ever been in a work environment where my coworkers were also friends.
In August I went to Hawaii with my mom for her birthday, along with my sister and aunt. Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places in the world, I love visiting there.
In September I moved into my own apartment! It’s my first time living without a roommate, family member, or significant other. I’m all on my own and it’s refreshing to do whatever the hell I want, especially with decorating. I’m having a lot of fun with that, though it’s a very slow process because of big furniture purchases needing to be spaced out.
October was a crazy month, containing both my birthday and my boyfriend’s birthday along with Halloween (my favorite holiday ever). Lots and lots of parties. It was awesome.
In November I painted my office with the help of my friend Sara and bought my desk and book shelving. I also hosted Thanksgiving dinner (for the 3rd year in a row!) at my humble abode for a few friends, in spite of my complete lack of furniture.
In December I painted another room in my apartment and traveled back to NYC for Christmas and New Year’s with my boyfriend in tow. It was a great trip, though we ended up getting stuck for an extra 4 days due to a blizzard (Hercules, I think it was named?) and this awful thing called a Polar Vortex which plummeted temperatures to 4 degrees.
But now I’m back, safe and sound in San Francisco with it’s 50-to-60-degree “winter” weather. I have survived 2013 with it’s veritable quarter-life crisis: two deaths in my family, a job loss, a breakup, debt, and other minor things. It’s made me realize I’m a fucking tough cookie. But I also got to travel a bit, start a new relationship and job, got a new apartment, and start life over basically from scratch!
2013 was a wild year full of changes and I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. Here’s to 2014 and all the awesomely amazing things—and I’m sure some horrible ones, too—it’s sure to bring. Cheers!