Episode 2011: A New Hope

I have no particularly strong feelings about New Years anymore.  I’ve long scorned the concept of New Years Resolutions, because the way I see it, if you want to change /improve something, that ambition and push to change will come because something shifts inside you, deciding that now it’s truly important.  Additionally, the last few years have been so crazy and life changing (both in great and terrible ways), that they almost seem indistinguishable, at least in terms of importance/good/bad.

2008 saw me going back to school for the first time in 5 years (a prime example of a big step I made not because I made some rule at the stroke of midnight, but because I sensed I was ready and it was time).  I also ended a 3 year relationship, but truly started to find myself in the months following, and really embracing my 20’s for the first time (by that time I was 23).  Towards the 2nd half of the year, I lost my job, leaving me unemployed for the first extended period of time in my life, 9 months to be exact, and causing me to move back in with my mother, something I swore I would never do.  However, towards the very end of the year, I turned vegan, which remains to be one of the best and most fulfilling decisions I’ve ever made for myself.

2009 started with a horrible car accident that could have easily almost killed me, but which thankfully left me with only a broken hand, some cuts and bruises, and brief fear of freeways.  I started watching Battlestar Galactica.  I made many new friends.  I got a job and a wonderful new apartment.   I started crushing regularly, as well as dating.  I didn’t fall in love, but I fell for someone pretty hard, and experienced my first heartache since my ex.  I started focusing on art for the first time in years, and as a result, found a happiness and purpose I had been searching for for years.  However, I started dealing with a nasty bout of anxiety and depression (both of which I am now taking medication for), and the cherry on top of my downward spiral was another car wreck (which, unlike the other, worse one, WAS my fault) and yet another bout of unemployment due to downsizing by my company.

So now I say goodbye to 2010, a year that was…rough. But how much of it was rough because of circumstances…or because I made it rougher on myself?

I got not one, but two lung infections caused by bronchitis that spread. I started developing wicked insomnia due to unemployment and, threw myself into art projects and school and random reorganization of my apartment.

All I did was paint and drive around Los Angeles and explore, feeling anxious antsy stuck and frustrated with everything in my life. As a result I cleaned outmy closets every month or so, rearranged my furniture constantly, started throwing out more and more needless things in my life (including friendships that caused me stress and pain). I also dyed part of my hair blue.  And then chopped 12 inches off of it in an act of rebellion/chance to change how people viewed me and how I viewed myself.

I dated a lot but for all the wrong reasons. I went out with friends a lot and while i had a lot of fun…I was very unsatisfied with my life. I was struggling financially and emotionally and couldn’t pull myself out of my funk instead distracting myself with more art and outings and projects that led nowhere.  I was so consumed with how much I hadn’t done in my life, how lost I felt, that it consumed my thoughts and left me unable to simply handle things one day at a time.  In 2010, I finished a grand total of one class in college.

But over the course of that year I had become friends with a sweet, polite man who I had met through a friend. We would talk online and on the phone, growing closer and closer as the months passed. We exchanged some flirtations but, because he lived in Mississippi, I never let it get any farther.

I saw him as a nice, cute guy with a talented art skill who I could have a brief romance with, should he come out to California again to visit. He spoke about wanting to move out to California (something that he’d been wanting to do for years) but until that happened, I didn’t allow myself to think about him further.  But during the summer, we would talk more often, texting often and sending each other random pictures of what we were nearby (me sending him pictures of a cool bookstore, him sending me ones of Cafe du Monde in New Orleans and the beach in Mississippi).  I learned more about him as he became more talkative and open (being a naturally shy and exceptionally polite individual) and found myself being more and more surprised and intrigued by him each and every day.  He wasn’t like any of the men I had previously dated.  And it wasn’t until a conversation on the evening of August 8th where we both let our guards down and admitted how we felt about each other, that I let myself think of a possibility of him and I.  Even after that, it was all relying on him coming out to California to visit, to see how he and I did in person in this capacity.

But then the year’s build up exploded all at once.  I had to leave my studio apartment due to not being able to pay rent solely on unemployment wages.  I had no jobs on the horizon, didn’t have the mindset to focus on school, and my unemployment was running out.  So I took a risk and, quite honestly, an escape, and viewed the timing of all of these events as the universe telling me I needed a change.  So I took a risk and packed up all of my belongings, and decided to drive across country for a change of scenery and to see how things worked with Billy.  I figured now was as good a time as any, since I really had nothing to lose back in Los Angeles.

I fell in love.  For the first time in 3 years.  For the second time in my entire life.

I drove across the country and had my eyes opened to just how diverse the U.S is, and how Los Angeles is not in any way the norm.  I lived in the South for 5 months, and over that time I became so grateful for what I have been able to be around, living in a major city.  I was grateful for everything I have (even when I felt I’ve had nothing) once I lived in a place that was one of the worst hit areas from Katrina, and, five years later, still recovering from it.

An aerial view of Long Beach Mississippi, my home for 5 months, and how badly it was hit by Katrina

a sculpture made out of an uprooted tree

 

 

 

Living here has been an experience all right.  Y’all is a part of my vernacular now, but more importantly, I feel like a more well rounded person.  I’ve traveled the country.  I’ve LIVED someplace completely different from the place I grew up and have lived more most of my 25 years on this planet.  I fell in love with a man who is completely different than the type of person I saw myself with… and yet who surprises, amazes, and impresses me more and more every day I have him in my life (just yesterday I learned that that crazy boy has READ THE ENTIRE BIBLE COVER TO COVER.  He’s not religious  -more generally spiritual like I am- but decided to read it so he could “make an informed decision about what his faith would or would not be”.  On his own.  When he was 13 years old.)

Having some time away from distractions, getting out of my comfort zone, and having a secure relationship (feeling safe in a romantic partnership provides more freedom to be whoever I need to be more than I ever realized) have all allowed me to really assess what it is I want and need from my life.  And what I came away with at the end of this year was…I am ready to work hard.

Last year I was caught up in stress and unhappiness and couldn’t see straight.  I was unemployed for a year.  I took an impromptu road trip.  I had my fun.  I had my relaxation.  I lived in a place where, just due to the slower pace of things in the South and how the culture is, the lack of ambition here is startling.  And it, along with other things, it really got me in a proactive mood.  To get serious about school.  To get working again.  To support myself.  To be that badass adult that was kicking ass and taking names when she was 23.  I need to get back to that place.  No, scratch that. I need to be that AND MORE.  And it’s not for anyone else’s acceptance.  It’s not so I can fit in or look desirable to a type of guy.  I need to get shit going.  REALLY going.  And while I’m smart and efficient and a good worker…I need to be a HARD worker.  Specifically in school.  The time for making excuses for myself and putting off important things so I can feel better about whatever is plaguing me at THAT MINUTE.  I’m an instant gratification junkie.  I know this.  So now I am entering this world going “I fully expect that this will be hard.  I will get impatient and decide that I ‘deserve a break’.  But no.  I will not.”

So I am moving back home at the end of this month.  My boyfriend will be moving out a couple months later.  I am driving back now because I miss home, because I want to get back in time for Spring semester, and because with this new resolve, I am ready to get started.  I am ready to get to work.  I am ready to be victorious.

 

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~ by Alli on Sunday, January 16, 2011.

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