9AM. New Years morning. Trying to sleep but it’s seemingly impossible.
2014. It’s at the turn of every new year that I start to think about the end. Dying. But not in the morbid sense, just in the… ending sense. When everything is over and you take a look back at your life and wonder what you did with it. 2013 would be a weird year to die after.
They say your first full year out of college is sometimes the hardest. It’s full of the hardest first-world problems you may have ever faced in your entire short existence, but hey - it’s all relative, right?
My year was a mixture of struggles and triumphs, but mostly ill timed worries that really caught up with me just a few minutes ago, snuggled under my covers in the chill of a heater-less SF apartment, just a few short hours after saying bye to my parents as they head back home to Michigan and bye to my sister who graciously drove me all the way back home.
In the midst of make-believe movie making and trying to force a a certain dream upon myself, I started walking through a prime-time drama where I played the cancer stricken youth with only a few months to live. Then it really hit me. What if I was dying? Actually dying? What if I had three months left, and I looked back at my past year and counted all the hours I spent worrying, regretting, stressing about things that, in the end, would most likely have caused the type of stress-induced cancer I was pretending to have?
2013 has been a struggle. With friendships, relationships, family, faith, loneliness, sexuality, purpose, work, and an overbearing psychosis spurred by a short-lived, yet long lasting, affair with bed bugs 8 months ago.
Bed bugs - people who don’t know me would laugh, but people who do should already know what’s to come. It’s not just the constant cleaning, inspecting, worrying, rewashing, bagging, and stressing about the every so slim possibility of still having bed bugs (even now, 240 days later). It’s about how it’s infiltrated the rest of my life, how my OCD has flared up to unseen and unheard proportions that prevent me from living the normal, carefree life I once at least kind-of sort-of had. How I spend hours with my eyes closed, talking allowed in a whisper convincing myself about various things I never had to think twice (okay, maybe twice, but not 10 times) about - that I locked my front door, that I turned off my computer, that I ordered the right item off of Amazon, that I replied to an email, that the words that I’m reading in front of me are real, that I understood what someone said. Hell, I just ordered an iPad Air, and had to spend an hour convincing myself that what I had in my hands was actually an iPad Air. I sat down with my head in my hands after rereading the box again and again “iPad Air, A-I-R, that spells Air, it’s the iPad Air, you ordered the right thing” until I was convinced. I’ve started reading again, but it’s hard when you have to reread sentences over and over again just to convince yourself that you understand what you’re reading. “He stabbed him with a sword” turns into - “Okay, what does this sentence mean. He - the main character - stabbed - which means he took his sword and pushed it into the other guy - him - the other guy - with a sword - with the sword that he has.” It sounds stupid, but I can’t get through a single page without having to do so and it sucks. It’s inefficient, it’s slow, it’s stupid, it’s stressful, and I’m slowly starting to fear that I might soon lose sense of what things, words, sounds, images even mean, like all the millions of psychotic patients I read about in college. Maybe it’s not that bad yet. No, it’s for sure not that bad yet. But it’s there, and it’s hard, and it’s stupid.
To doubt everything that you read, that you do, creates a sense of non-living. To live in a constant fear of losing friends, of losing faith, of losing who you really are and being afraid to be that person is non-living. To spend hours upon hours convincing yourself as to why you don’t have bed bugs, why the clothes in your room are clean, why the gifts that you’ve been given or purchased are safe, is non-living. It strips away the joy of being around people, of having anything to be grateful for, and of just, really, being alive. And the alternative, is just way, way worse.
And that’s why I’m reflecting. Because 2014 should be different. 2014 needs to be different. And there is so much to be grateful for from the year behind me.
The people that still connect with me, despite all of my short comings as a friend; the wonderful city of Chicago that was my home for 5 great years; the incredible place I’m in now, where it’s January 1st and 60 degrees right outside of my window (though really just for this three hour period of time); the discovery of TAF and the way it’s changed me; my family who I have never nearly been grateful enough to; the summer days at the beach; the winter mornings on the slopes of Colorado; the joy and pride of seeing people grow as they make their way towards graduation; the incredible shows and performances that have been cause of tears of happiness and laughter; the new friends who’ve welcomed me and the old friends that always welcome me back; the job that I complain too much about but am so fortunate to have; the clothes on my back; the food in my stomach; the phone in my hands that does more than anyone could have ever anticipated; the music and art that move me - the list is endless.
The things that have made us smile and laugh, that have made us warm both inside and out, that have taught us and shaped us into who we are today - those are the things that define us. Those are the things that we should choose to carry forward into the new year. That’s how we can start fresh without our minds burdened by fear and worry, but our hearts strong enough to face the tough days ahead. It’s hard to make the change, to have the will to power through what you know is pointless to get to where you need to be. Where you want to be. Who you want to be. But I suppose that’s just life. Thank goodness I still have more than three months left.
January 1, 2014.
I really do love ReFresH.
Life is weird. This year’s been great so far. The best yet, actually. But then, I started thinking again. Life is weird.
Will you walk with me, cause I can’t see, just where I’m meant to be.
Today, it began to snow in Memphis. Merry Christmas. And a thank you to all the friends who have made the past few years wonderful and interesting, to say the least.