I’m in this strange limbo right now where it is already 2014 where I am, but it is still 2013 in the place where I spend most of my time. It turned midnight over 3 hours ago here, but it won’t be midnight in Colorado for another 5, not in LA for another 6. And I’m jet lagged, so I’m awake, because it’s the middle of the day for fuck’s sake. At least it’s the middle of the day somewhere. I didn’t want to begin 2014 by looking backward, but because it’s still 2013 somewhere, and because I have yet to fall asleep, here was my year, in all its shitty glory [though the following list won’t sound shitty, because I’m gesturing toward gratitude here]:
Fireworks blowing up over Puente de la Mujer, 12 grapes in my champagne glass. One wish for each month of 2013. My first few wishes had to do with love, but I switched, rewished, each month of 2013–no death please, is what I asked for. My relationship failed 3 months later. But 2013 did not strike dead anyone I loved. So for one thing I am infinitely grateful.
A 30 hour bus ride up the coast of South America.
Trekking through the Brazilian jungle with T. A beach. A light house. A boat ride home.
That time I fell asleep on the bus to the beach on a Brazilian island, woke up to a techno rave, left my friends in search of food, hiked a giant hill to a lone restaurant that was empty but happened to serve pasta. Made friends with the bartender who took care of my drink needs. Who I never saw again.
How leaving South America this time didn’t hurt because it was like leaving a home I’ll always come back to.
Buying a plane ticket to Berlin that I would never use. The reason I’m here, now, starting this new year alone on an island in the Mediterranean that most people have never heard of.
My brother, sleeping on my couch. My brother, making me breakfast.
The abandoned zoo where gangs fuck and shoot up.
Standing up in Colorado in front of everyone who loved the person we lost, delivering a eulogy I half wrote drunk on an airplane half wrote in journal entries over the course of my college days, losing my composure at the last second but knowing that this podium in this art museum in this town in front of these people was maybe the only safe place I’d ever been or I’d ever be.
How in death people come together to fall apart, then fall apart. How we’ll never quite come together like that again. How I regret what it takes for us to get there.
Drinks and dinners on the rooftop of the Hotel Erwin with my girls overlooking our ocean, our California.
Boston in the snow, without the jacket I left back in LA. Boston without Jake. Boston with my Utah friends. Boston in a bar till 2am. Wandering the art museum with M until my flight.
Emergency trip up north to Oakland to Davis to the coast. That naked hot springs. The beach made of sea glass. The tattoo museum that advertised real tattooed skin without a body but didn’t actually have it. The brewery where my best friend told me she was proud of me, that she didn’t think she has the strength to do what I did. Which was walk away. The house of a stranger who reminded me when to breathe. Who messages me now and then to make sure I’m still doing it.
Eating my weight in cotton candy during my first and only visit to Disneyland.
Cliffside, tide pools, TS Eliot.
That time I wore lingerie masquerading as a dress, a glass of champagne in my hand, dancing on the rooftop, peeing in a trashcan, climbing barefoot to the top of the tower with N, looking over all of Los Angeles, glittering.
When I walked into the Cinematic Arts courtyard at 9pm at night and found a virtual art gallery and fell deeply in love with my school for the first time.
The feeling of pure joy I had when I tore away from Los Angeles at 7:30pm in the middle of May, headed east, headed home, headed toward summer. Music blasting.
Daft. Fucking. Punk.
Arriving in Utah to a table filled with hot cheetos and pear flavored jelly beans. Sleeping on T’s floor. Smoking on the roof. The drive we made my last night, through the canyons, to the top of the city.
That time I lost my shoes at the Bonneville Salt Flats because I took them off, then wandered away, talking out loud to the person who left me, who was on the other side of the world at that time, who never heard me anyway.
Either before or after that, when L and I hiked to a waterfall on the other side of the mountain range that raised me, ate lunch, felt grounded.
Walking through West Hollywood at 8am the morning after Pride, hungover with everyone else who was hungover, crossing at rainbow crosswalks, confetti and glitter everywhere, my rainbow dress, my beaded sandals, two hours before I rode my bike 13 miles naked through downtown Los Angeles with a stranger who painted a flamingo on my body.
Returning to New York City and feeling, for the first time since I left in 2006, like I’d finally made peace with that place.
Sitting on T’s terrace in Brooklyn drinking gluten free beer. Sitting on T’s floor with G, a triangle, a conversation of reassurance till late in the night.
Falling in love with Ohio.
The day A, J, and I got into J’s car, drove south 45 minutes from Columbus to an address I found in the family tree my grandmother made before she died, knocked on the door and met my long lost relatives.
That same day, learning my grandma’s sister was still alive and driving to a farm on top of a hill in my grandma’s hometown to meet her. How she was just like my grandma, but not.
That same day, splashing around in my underwear in a watering hole at the bottom of a kind of cave where my grandma spent her childhood. The photo A took of me there. How I found enough of myself in that photo to move forward, to take my first step out of heartbreak. The day before my 25th birthday.
Breaking into an apartment complex pool at 3am wearing a tutu and a swim suit top after dancing all night in a bar in Tuscaloosa.
Standing in the woods at night outside of Jake’s parent’s house in Gadsden, Alabama with my girls, my soul mates, catching fireflies in a jar, giggling.
That time I spent a week living on a farm in Kentucky with my best friend, packaging herbal teas, weeding, laughing at chickens.
A. The farmhouse in Kentucky. A walk along the river. Falling in the river. Everything after. Bon Iver. 6am. The airport. Everything after.
One of my best friends’ weddings.
Living like a hooligan in Durango with my girl J and her girl S. Doing it up all day and all night like life was a giant party and nature was endlessly giving and bathtubs and booze and dance floors were made for us.
That time we tried to tube down the river that runs through that town, except there was only 4 inches of water, and our butts dragged and I thought we might break our heads open.
The river. My river. In Boulder. Oysters. Pearl Street. Home.
The night I screamed my heart out singing the words to every Born in the Flood song as they played on the main stage at my all time favorite music festival.
The night that conquered me. Beaver Creek. A law conference with my mom. The rodeo. Ugh, that bartender. Two days in bed after that. Resolutions aren’t only for New Years. They’re also for when you fuck up massively and your body won’t let you forget it.
The two weeks before school started that L and I spent riding our bikes to campus together at 8am everyday.
Riding a goddamn blow up killer whale in a goddamn pool in West Hollywood with my girls and inflatable flamingo coasters.
Walking around that dusty park in downtown LA between sets at FYF. Riding bikes home down Sunset Boulevard at 2am.
Swimming in my underwear in the Pacific Ocean with N and N at sunset in September. One of the most gorgeous days of my life.
&Now in Boulder, so many parts of my life colliding in my hometown to the sound of experiment and innovation and some of the most brilliant minds I know.
That time JP had Nathaniel Rateliff leave me a voicemail.
Wandering this gross giant park in the OC looking at tiny sustainable houses with L & C.
When I saw Sleigh Bells play a show, during which I decided to take control of my life again. A decision I have to re-make constantly.
Late night bike rides home from school, alone, no traffic, just that fake moon balloon in the distance.
When I rolled up at a dome in the middle of nowhere in the desert and realized I am always where I need to be. When I spent the entire night moving trees a couple inches at a time through the dirt for the sake of art.
My first Thanksgiving away from home, but in a house filled with KC Valley-ers, with Coloradans.
The afternoon R took me to Pepperdine, to her favorite spot, a memorial garden overlooking the sea.
My last LA yoga class of the year, where M gave me a bracelet, a reminder that we are in each others’ hearts, that we are always home.
The night J and I made puppets. The night the girls and I got a hotel room downtown. The night my best friend and I finally walked the Trail of Lights in the cold of Colorado winter.
The first thing I did when I boarded my Lufthansa flight to Europe was throw up. I’d had to run through the terminal to board the plane on time. They were paging me over the intercom. Final call. I almost missed it. I had an asthma attack. Threw up. Sat down. Ate dinner. Talked to a college girl. Fell asleep. Woke up in Frankfurt, in Germany, the last place I ever wanted to be.
I began 2013 in Buenos Aires, on the coast of the Atlantic ocean, music everywhere, fireworks, dancing, laughing, kissing. I ended 2013 in an apartment in Malta filled with Serbian doctors in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s who I only met today, who blasted American pop music, who danced with me after a huge and delicious meal, after a peaceful day of running errands and eating traditional Maltese food and a scoop of nutella in the garden of the Presidential Palace with two people I met only yesterday.
I began 2014 alone on the shore of this island in the sea. I thought there would be more people outside, but there was no one. All around the island, I could see hotels and bars with lights flashing. I could hear music from far off. I sat right next to the water, the waves pounding the rocks. It smelled like salt water and pine trees. There were stray cats everywhere. I thought about why exactly I felt trapped by last year. I started writing. I wrote all of the above. All the good moments, the crazy moments, the life changing moments. I am someone who feels very tied to cycles. For me, things begin and end often. Each time I have a birthday, there’s a new cycle. Each time I start the school year, there’s a new cycle. But most important to me is the new year. The number one. The number one again. 1.1.14. This will be the first year I haven’t been in a relationship for as long as I can remember. It will be the first year I will not see or speak to the person I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. I don’t make resolutions. Because transitioning from 12.31 to 1.1. is hard enough. Pushing that calendar forward, those numbers back. I know clean slates don’t exist. So I don’t want a clean slate. Just a different slate. Last year I wished for no death. This year, I wish for it to not be last year.
Happy 2014 from Malta.
Here are 12 photos from 2013, one for each month: