[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]
Life is usually not what you expect it to be, and 2022 reiterated the unpredictability of life in bold letters, italicized, and underlined. Last year on New Years, I was running a race in zero degree weather. I eventually dropped out due to my mismanagement of the cold, and spent the night wrapped in blankets, eating soup with my parents and feeling both mentally and physically drained. Last January, I was grappling with a less-than-good job that I didn't see a clear way out of, nor did I see a clear (or even fuzzy) path to success if I stayed. I was stuck, or so I thought. Last January, I returned to California and fell headfirst into a new relationship that I wasn't really expecting. My guard was up high, and it took a lot of patience and persistence on the part of my now-boyfriend to get through my jadedness. I was suspicious and cynical. I didn't trust men, and I had no reason to.
A few months later, I escaped my job by way of an offer for a new one at a different, more functional company. I didn't expect to get this new job, and I wasn't even really looking. Less than a month after I left the bad job, they let the other salesperson go. Word on the street was that they outsourced sales to a third party provider, who had even worse results than we'd had. I learned not only that the market will reject a bad product, but also that I didn't need to stay in a place where I felt unmotivated and stuck. Life is too short to be unhappy at or with your work.
Meanwhile, Mike was making headway in convincing me that he was a man I could trust. He came to one of my races, helping me through a low moment when all I wanted to do was quit. He planned dates and coordinated travel and called me every day. He was always there when he said he would be, and even when he didn't have to be. I learned what safety and trust felt like, and more profoundly, that love itself is unexpected. Nobody can orchestrate or plan who they fall in love with, and that's as magical as it is damning.
A few months later, summertime was in full swing and I returned to the mountains, where I've always felt most at home. I climbed every mountain within striking distance, including a solo venture up Mount Whitney. I went to Colorado and Wisconsin, Lake Tahoe and New York City. I dropped out of one hundred miler only to sign up for another on my way home. I finished that race in 32 and a half hours, and Mike was there at each checkpoint, cheering me on. We arrived home bleary-eyed and exhausted, but I was content. I learned to not give up, that difficult things are infinitely rewarding, and that I can rely on the unconditional support of those I love.
In 2022, I flew so much that Delta upgraded me to Gold Medallion status. In all my flights, I only experienced one delay due to a thunderstorm in Colorado, but I still made it home that day. I read so many books that they spilled out of my bookshelf, piled almost to the ceiling. I taped a running list of poems to my wall, slowly adding new titles as I work my way toward another book.
Mike and I talked about moving in together, and as autumn sank its teeth into the southern Californian coast, we started looking for apartments. One weekend, I drove to the Grand Canyon. The next, we traveled to the desert, both magical in their own right and full of unsuspecting beauty. We spent Thanksgiving in the mountains and in the outskirts of Joshua Tree, and recently traveled back home to Wisconsin for Christmas.
In a few weeks, we'll move in together, into a larger apartment in Laguna Beach, only a few blocks away from the water and a few steps away from miles of trails.
While so much has changed this year, a lot of things haven't changed at all. I've been as consistent as ever in my training: running and lifting and a weekly hot yoga session. I still read and write as much and as often as I can, and with another year of practice under my belt, I can see the improvements I've made. I can also see that the road to improving my craft is never-ending. More than once, I fell asleep on a good idea. Sometimes, I had the wherewithal to write my good ideas down, and they usually turned into something.
Last spring, Mike and I drove to L.A. for a poetry reading in an upstairs apartment in a building downtown. I didn't know anyone there, but it was a lovely, strange evening. One woman offered everyone a weed cookie. Another told me all about her most recent relationship and the various ways in which it dissolved. Every person who shared their work was unique, and the environment was welcoming and kind. That's the sort of year I'd like us all to have; a welcoming and kind year, full of new friendship and vulnerability; discomfort and success.
I wish you and everyone you love a happy, healthy new year ❤️