I was maybe 13 and sitting in the middle row of my friend Abby’s mother’s mini-van, somewhere between the Bay Bridge and the Eastern Shore. I had only known Abby for a few weeks—it was the beginning of 7th grade and I was the new kid at school, the only one in my grade, so I was still confused and trying to figure out this whole new world of middle school and uniforms and busses and friendships I found myself in without understanding how they came to be. We were driving to the outlets, some shopping for school clothes, and Abby and her mom kept up a scarily constant stream of conversation—in this mini-van there would be not a second of silence. If they weren’t talking, they were singing. They had the soundtrack to Wicked on that day, and they sang every word and every instrumental note. I was overwhelmed. I’ve never been so good at strangers—and these people still mostly felt like strangers—and I was trapped in this car as they sang drum parts. I knew the Wicked soundtrack of course, I was a middle school theatre kid, but I was still too shy to sing along.
There is a song on that soundtrack called “For Good” it’s a rousing number towards the end of the show, where the two leads talk about how important it is that they are in each other’s lives. “I've heard it said” they sing “That people come into our lives for a reason/ Bringing something we must learn/ And we are led/ To those who help us most to grow/ If we let them/ And we help them in return/ Well, I don't know if I believe that's true/ But I know I'm who I am today/ Because I knew you...”
I’ve been thinking a lot about that song this week, as 2014 comes to an end. It’s been a weird year, a really really hard year, but it’s brought so many good people in to my life.
I spent last New Year’s Eve in an apartment in Cleveland staring at snow and drinking bad booze and yelling at shitty movies on the TV.  I was wearing pajamas and glasses, and surrounded by people who loved me at my very worst. I spent January couch surfing through bedroom floors and living room sofas, surrounded by enough warmth to overwhelm even the cold of Ohio.
And I guess that January set the course for what these year has been. Strange and new and kind of terrifying. Bad, I guess, but also good, and full of care and snuggles on couches in apartments full of friends.  For a lot of this year those friends have been far away, but thanks to the magic of skype calls and facebook messages and texting, I’ve got love in my pocket all day long.
I left Salisbury in 2014. I spent an incredible, eye-opening summer at Kutz. I moved to New York. I started new jobs and made some new friends and read so, so many good books. I heard new music and more movies and laughed and cried more than my fair share.
But I’m more than ready to say goodbye to 2014. I’m ready for the new, for the different, for the whatever comes next.
My friend Charlie is coming over tonight. We’re going to sit on the balcony and watch the drunken partiers stumble down Second Avenue, snuggled under blankets, six stories in the sky. Next year he’ll start law school, and I’ll start- again- on the path to finish my degree. New years bring new challenges, but I’m thankful for the friendships that carry on.
So happy new years, friends. I hope your new year is better than your old, and you start 2015 smiling as bright as I am right now. I hope you have love and friendship and happiness and reasons to do the remarkable things that you are going to do. I hope we all find new adventures, and new words and new things that make us feel. I hope your year rocks. I hope mine does too.

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