As the joke goes, 2016 is a year that everyone will skip during the History of Earth. 2015 will seamlessly melt into 2017, without a pause for 2016. Future generations will ask what happened to 2016. Their questions will be met with grave faces that tell a lifetime of stories. For, as you know, 2016 has been the worst year of all years.
For me, years that end in 6 tend to be full of turmoil. They have always been a time for change and a time for ache. They have been years that have forced me to grow up and come to terms with life. Let's just say that I'm not eager to find out with 2026 holds for me, but who knows? Maybe I'll break the cycle within the next 10 years. I sure hope so.
Here's what I want to do right now. I want to look back on 2016 and talk about all the amazing things that happened this year. All the things that I got to experience, because I did experience so many different things this year.
After a rough first start to 2016, my mom and I got to spend 2 weeks in Europe together. When I was planning this trip, I was terrified that we were going to spend 2 weeks arguing and that only one of us would make it home alive. Let's not kid ourselves. You all thought that was how our Europe trip would go too. I prepped myself for months beforehand. I worked through my sadness from the break-up (and the confusion of working on things with him) and slowly trained dad on how to watch a blind dog for 2 weeks (I probably should have helped him figure out our new fangled washing machine first though). When I got to Prague, my mom, who had been alone for 1.5 weeks, was practically in tears. She was so happy that I had made it safely and that she was no longer alone in Europe. Those 2 weeks were beyond amazing. We ate and drank our way through Prague and Paris. My mom let me plan practically everything (which included walking around The Louvre for 7+ hours) and I am proud to say that we only argued once during the entire trip. This argument was in the most beautiful cemetery I have ever been in and a kind old French man gave me a tour of all the famous graves. That trip made us realize that we could most definitely travel together. My dad isn't much for traveling (besides Hawaii) so this was a thrilling new discovery for my mom.
Soon after this trip was my very first weekend long music festival. Caitlin had been trying to convince me for about a year, to go to Lightning in a Bottle. If you've met Caitlin, you know that she is very persistent, which is one of the qualities I love about her. She wore me down and I finally agreed to go even though she was the only person I would know there. I had second thoughts on a daily basis. In the end, going to LIB was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Despite the non-stop daily heat, I had an amazing, eye-opening experience with the most accepting group of people I've ever met. Each person at LIB was kind, loving, and happy. As an introvert who dislikes people, going into this group of people with my guards up and my snappy replies on the tip of my tongue... I don't think I had any idea what I was getting myself into. It was an experience that made my heart so happy. It's nice to know how many good people there are in the world. Also, shout out to the woman who told me to stop and look at the moon my 2nd night there. That moment has stayed with me.
Over the next few months, I grew. I got new tattoos, I dyed my hair, I wrote down all my feelings, and I cried a lot. I also re-watched Bones three times.
During this time, I also planned a birthday trip for the books. I turned 28 years old this year and I planned to go back to Salem, MA. When my grandfather's family immigrated from Greece, they settled in Salem. I've visited Salem 3 (now 4) times and I don't think I'll ever get sick of if. Two of my most favorite people in the world came with me. My cousin, Nami, had already been to Salem with me during high school. One of my best friends, Kaitlin (not to be confused with Caitlin), had never been to Salem. It's interesting how different trips are when you're not with your parents, you have your own money, and you're old enough to drink. We ate, drank, and shopped our touristing butts through Salem. I don't think I've ever, in my life, had a better birthday than this past one. Sure, all 3 of us learned that people from the Bay Area think that they own a "heavy" jacket but trust me, you don't. At least we walked enough to burn off the 2000+ calories we ate everyday....... Right? Oh by the way, Prague isn't expensive and your coffee sucks.
One of the most memorable nights of my life will always be the Stevie Nicks concert. A few years ago, Fleetwood Mac came to town. I eagerly went to my boyfriend at the time and we both decided we were going to go... Until we saw that tickets were in the $170 range. We decided, grudgingly, not to go. I've regretted that decision for years. When Stevie Nicks announced that she was going to go on a tour this year, I jumped at the chance. My mom and I purchased our tickets and eagerly awaited the day. The show was 3 hours of 68 year old Stevie telling us countless stories about the songs she wrote and performed. She told us that the music she was singing on this tour is some things that she has never performed before. In her words, she was doing what she wanted to do this time around, no matter what anyone said. She gave advice about doing your own thing and figuring your shit out. She told everyone not to let anyone else stand in the way of your own happiness. During her final song, "Landslide", I cried. Don't worry, Stevie, I heard you.
As I sit here, on the 2nd to the last day of 2016, I think about all the great experiences I got to have this year. Yeah, 2016 was a no good, horribly shitty year for me and I am so thankful that it's over... But I'm even more thankful for all the great things that have happened this year. If I were to put my good experiences and my bad experiences for 2016 on a scale... Well, the bad experiences would really win out but at least the good experiences would put a good amount of weight down. My support system is more amazing than I could have ever dreamed of. The friends and family members who have listened to my non-stop bitching all year, the ones who have dried my tears for me, and the ones who have hugged me when I needed it... You're the most wonderful people in the world and I have no idea what I did to deserve any of you.
Bring it on.
- so I can sigh eternally -