What a year it has been. Hopefully it’s been as good to you as it has to me. While there have been plenty of terrible and sad things in the world (or maybe even because of all the terrible and sad things in the world) I think it’s important to take this time to sit back and reflect on all the small, wonderful moments that made up this year for me.
Quick note: All these pictures and stories are mine and from the month listed but they aren’t always taken on the same day / time as each other they I hope they evoke some of the same feelings.
It’s the puff of air. The white cloud that forms out of your mouth in the winter when you breath out, that’s what makes the cold feel fulfilling. It makes it feel real, nearly tangible.
And I’m all puffs now. Walking around a frozen lake just wasn’t enough winter wonderland for me, no. I had to find somewhere cinematic to have a winter moment. And worse yet, the pictures from the ground just weren’t good enough for me either. No! I have to climb a tree to experience that real winter feeling.
Never mind I haven’t climbed a tree in a decade. Never mind I am wearing four layers and I can barely feel my feet and hands in this cold. I find the smallest apple tree to climb so I can take the world’s most cliche picture and it turns out I do remember how to climb trees but I’m still not a fantastic photographer. My breath fogs the lens. It turns out alright.
It’s so dark outside. It’s not even 6pm and everything is dark, even in the middle of city. As we sit down in the coffee shop and wait for our friends. We don’t intend to stay in the coffee shop but once they arrive our conversation is so lively that strangers interject to tell us they love us. We linger.
Meeting someone new isn’t always good, but it’s better in a small setting. It’s better in a restaurant with just six instead of a party with twenty six, it’s better than her laugh is bright and her nose crinkles and I can hear her lilting accent crystal clear on my ears instead of it being blended into a voice in the background. That I will remember the distinctness of her eyes and her smile instead of a face and a name all melting into a ball of alcohol and overlapping conversations.
At the end of the night we launch ourselves into the pile of snow outside the restaurant, we wait by the tram, shivering and laughing. Dulling the pain of goodbye.
In March getting new glasses is suddenly the most important thing in the world.
It takes me a full hour to select a pair of glasses and it makes me feel both too old and too young. My prescription has changed because my eyes are getting worse but I have to pick a pair glasses from the tween section because even the teen glasses are so large they fall off my face.
When I finally pick up the finished product I realize I haven’t seen anything clearly for so long. How did I forget that life wasn’t just a blur? How could I have forgotten how clear things truly are?
I stand outside the shop starring at the sky for a long time.
Spring is a celebration! I have three birthday parties to attend. In a castle, in a house, and one that I make myself for a friend.
Every party is different, every party is special but I worry I don’t make them different enough, I don’t make them special enough. I can’t return how good these people make me feel. I can’t give them the feeling I have that they’re alive.
Instead I give them my laughter and my time, and sometimes a cake — I hope it’s enough.
It’s surreal to be sitting on the couch, next to Austin for the first time in two years. This used to be the thing, our thing. We sat on a couch (not this couch) and talked and lived and were for longer than I have known most people in my life.
And he’s here. And he’s here. And he’s leaving. But he’s here now. And everything is different but it feels like it’s all the same and I want it all the same but you can’t go backwards in time. And he’s here. Now.
I can’t tell who is laughing and who is screaming. Maybe we’re doing both, maybe our emotions are like the river we’re traveling down now, undulating with no restraint. We roll over a small rapids and I feel drunker than I was the night before. I feel sparkles and bubbles bursting from my chest. I feel wild and free.
Under my feet I can feel the river pulling our canoe along, even without the help of our uncoordinated limbs. We’re doing a bad job most of the time. Trying to learn how to row in tandem. Trying to figure out how to be people who accomplish one goal – together. We’re almost friends. We’re almost paddling a canoe. We’re almost giving up and diving into the river while possessed by screaming and laughing in equal measure.
We’re almost there.
It’s lucky that our friend has the perfect viewing platform up on top of her house but after three hours of waiting it feels more like an anti-climatic waste of space. We came, we snacked, we played Scrabble by phone-light, and we’re just about to give up.
It’s supposed to be the night of the blood moon but instead it’s the night of being annoyed at neighbors who set off fireworks, at the sky that never darkens, and the moon that never rises.
In a last ditch effort we decide to watch for the International Space Station to rise. It rolls across the sky, effortlessly, and then as we’re about to pack in it seems to be towing something in its wake. The blood moon careens slowly across the sky following the ISS’ trail. Red and swollen. Strange and beautiful. Magical and worth the wait.
My mother had been adamant that she wanted to go to an opera while in town. Me, an avid opera lover, thought this was a fine idea. My mother had been adamant the minute she learned you could pre-order food and drinks at the opera that I do so for us.
So during the first intermission there is a table with our name on it filled with snacks and cakes and small bottles of champagne. And I think to myself, how did you end up here? How could anyone get so lucky? How can anyone hope to deserve this?
It’s not because we’re in Montenegro. It could have happened anywhere. It could have happened right outside our house. There’s a tree right outside of our house!
But we are in Montenegro. Holding hands, walking to lunch, and there it is. A tree. A tree full of small, round birds. A hundred small round birds and we stop and stare at the tree for a moment because the birds are everywhere, tangled up in the branches and fluttering between them, weaving patterns in and out as birds do.
And then, on the road, there is a loud noise. A car backfiring or a radio or a dog barking, just some strange unexpected noise that causes it to happen all at once. Birds begin to flee. They start falling, pouring out of the tree. A living waterfall of chirping beaks and color-tinged wings. Fat round rocks tumbling down all over themselves and each other.
We hold each other to try and stifle the laughter.
Every step is loud and creaking when its wet in the bog. The slats underneath our feet stretch and shrink with weight pressed on them. They squeeze wet droplets from the forest floor which mirror the ones falling from the sky. The taste of every inhalation is tinged thick and mossy even in the middle of a clearing and for a moment I forget that I exist inside of a body. Instead of incomplete flesh I’m a jostle of noises, I’m a conversation muffled by distance and fabric, I’m a sharp snap of a branch, I’m a bird call overhead.
I’m the cool wind that whips around me, biting through the fabric finally making my skin feel full of sensation, as if it was borrowed by the bog for a moment but is now mine to inhabit again.
They don’t know what hit them. We are a wildfire of light and energy. We are dazzling and strange. Loud and punctuated. We are wearing angel wings and top hats.
We are getting our pictures taken for Christmas cards on a lark. Nothing special. Everything special.
But why would you have an entire photo studio of hats and costumes if no one else has been excited to use them? Where is the disconnect between other people and the joy of dressing up as something else or someone else? How has no one else stepped into this space and lived as loudly as us?
But it’s true, they tell us while we wait for the photos to process, no one else has ever enjoyed themselves so much here.
I’d be proud if that wasn’t so sad.
Crouching down on the floor, head almost underneath a table, with three women around me. We are sharing stories. We laugh and tear up and smile and sob. And there is something nice in knowing that the connections are always there under every surface. Even when I feel small and alone, even when I’ve shoved our feeling under thick, dark water – trying to hide – someone will come. Many someones will come. They will find me and they will share with me stories and feelings.
Because maybe everyone is like this. Searching for a light in the dark. And even when I cannot yet see it, I know it is out there. Waiting for me.