The Year That Was and The Year That Will Be

I feel weird reading the things I wrote then I was 20. The prose is too showy and the words are too long, and my abuse of commas was somehow even worse than it is today. It embarrasses me to read those words, but it’s possible I’m embarrassed more by the person I was when I put those words down on those pages.

I turn 24 tomorrow. It’s not a big deal, except for in the ways that it is. I’ll spend all day in class and then come home and make dinner. I’ll do my homework and waste time scrolling through twitter. It’ll be just another Tuesday.

I’m the kind of person who likes to mark occasions. I like to lavish people with attention. Weird care packages and homemade cards, texts just to say ‘hi’ and emails with links that remind me of them. I feel my best when I’m showing people that I care.

I can’t bring myself to care about this birthday. It feels like a hurdle, to be honest, something I have to get past—get through—to get to the other side. To get to 24 and graduation and whatever comes after whatever it is I am doing right now.

Exactly one year ago, on the night before my 23rd birthday, I wrote a blog post about the gifts I had found during year 22. It holds true, I think. When I read it over I smile and nod. I feel grateful for those moments and those people and those feelings that were so real as I was feeling them.

This year has had it’s share of gifts, but two of them matter more than all the rest.

The first gift is work.

Just nose to the grindstone, head in the books, work. This has been a year of accomplishing the things I need to accomplish. I graduate in 90 days, having squeezed three semesters worth of classes in to two semesters. I’ve taken stupidly easy pre-reqs and stupidly hard graduate seminars. I’ve had a lot of meetings with my advisor, sitting on opposite sides of her desk as we plan out my path. I’ve had a lot of homework—readings and essays and earth science labs that lasted for 4 hours on Wednesday mornings. It kind of stinks, truthfully. But it’s what I need to do and so I’m doing it.

The other gift is a little cheesier. Sorry.

This year, more than any, has shown me what a gift it is to have people. This year, at least the parts of it I’ve spent in Maryland, have been very isolated. Suburban life is weird and strange and I’ve spent a lot of time being very very thankful that when I get home at the end of the day I have people I can count on to be only a skype call away. Distance is hard, but knowing that there are people out there that care about me makes it a little easier to slog through whatever is being slung my way each day. I’m grateful for the gift of affection. Shown in phone calls I get from friends in far off places and in facebook messages from the other side of the world. I’m thankful for the people who send me links on twitter and for every time my brother emails me weird memes. I’m thankful for my parents who watch weird sitcoms and don’t complain when I sit in the room with them and ignore them in favor of my textbooks. I’m thankful for every little bit of love that I receive.

I hope I’m not embarrassed to read this four years from now. I hope the things in my life that I consider gifts are things that I will continue to value. I hope my work ethic doesn’t putter out and my love for others stays strong. I hope I have enough love and affection in my life that even to remark on it in such simple terms seems quaint.  I know I’ll be disappointed in my comma abuse (I always am) but I hope the words I’m writing now will still feel true.

I turn 24 tomorrow.

I knew exactly what 23 was going to hold—school, camp, a home in Maryland and sustaining my relationships via internet connection. 24 is up in the air. 24 feels like a mystery. For once, I don’t know what comes next. But whatever it is, and wherever this year takes me, I’m ready. And even if I wasn’t, time passes anyway.

Lots of love.

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