It's 2017 and I'm two weeks away from turning 36. What has 35 been like for me?
I started this year with brain surgery. I endured hardship, pain, fear, humiliation, depression, anxiety, unexpected weight loss, recovery, so much sleep, support, friendship, family, and what felt like the end of an era. Will I never have a seizure again? That is the goal. I took a month off my “normal” life to heal before traveling to places near and far to a take part in and celebrate a long list of weddings.
First stop — San Diego, for Tiffany and Jason. Where I thought I’d found my own long lost love. In the months to come, I went south to watch old friends embrace new love. In Chattanooga with Aaron and Lindsay (#hoodgoeslong), Asheville with Karen and Darren (where we all bawled our eyes out #MacOlsens), and Harpers Ferry even, for Ceci and Brian (#yesfest). Between live bands, midday rivers, and late-night ribs, I continued to hold onto hope that I was on my way to a new found place.
Turns out, flings aren’t reserved for summertime alone. Immersed in a grey area as obtuse as my own denial, I ignored the riptide — he doesn’t love me enough. Words are meaningless when it's the same old boring story. At least I’ve looked in this mirror before. The heartache is less of a surprise now, but it still hurts as much. The anger, doubled. How did I fall for this again? I cried my eyes out in sadness at my own failure to see the truth that stood before me.
And then I cried some more as I lived the script of Four Weddings and a Funeral. In June, my Aunt Terri died. She did her best to live and love as much as she could. Without her, I may not have the capacity to never meet a stranger and to make sure my friends all know they are loved. With her guidance, I've been able to build a community in every place I've lived, and each of those friends get to meet and know the others. What's life without a blended family, after all?
So, as I pick my heart up out of the grey, it pushes me forward and I know these storm clouds will pass soon enough. Until then, I sit under my umbrella and focus on the sunshine peeking through. Along with my travels, I spent nights in New Jersey that included idols like Stevie Nicks and The Pretenders. I co-hosted a bachelorette party in Chicago with my best friends. I rode in a minivan full of smiling faces to Pennsylvania for another one a few weeks later. I planned and hosted Ladies Night: A Storytelling Event at Big Irv's that included a transgendered woman in the line up. I saw Wonder Woman and Atomic Blonde and PJ Harvey remembering again that women kick so much ass. I experienced Punderdome and reflected on the awesome capabilities of a few choice words and loud laughter. I sang along to classic hits by Hall & Oates and Tears for Fears in an old stadium in Queens. Later on, fans and I sang along with every lyric from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. I attended one of the Final Shows at Webster Hall, a New York City venue for the ages just to enjoy the experience. I caught The Figgs, met the band, and made my friend Tim’s year by being a part of that adventure. I won the friend lottery and got to see Hamilton: An American Musical on Broadway in the middle of a work day. I watched in awe as my uncle Tim performed in Linda Vista at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago with a gang of fabulous women. In fact, we are still talking about that play.
Before the end of the year I will return to the stage to see Maggie Rogers, Ron Gallo, Kevin Mobry, Middle Kids, and Guns n’ motherfuckin' Roses! I will turn 36 shortly after seeing Lady Gaga at MSG and The Princess Bride on the big screen at Nitehawk Cinema, in that order. My best friend Michael is coming to spend the night with me in a tiny house near the beach for our last summer hoorah, and I will host a dance party to celebrate this year and the many years to come. I will make another trip to Chicago to see Brooke marry Nate before turning back to the District of Columbia to enjoy more friends stand tall and declare their love. That marks seven weddings for 2017. PHEW.
In less romantic, theatrical, and musical moments - I made it to the beaches of North Carolina to soak up the sun with my favorite people and their children. Hard to believe we all met nearly 20 years ago! I stepped foot in the sands of beaches in California, and visited Jacob Riis for the first time in my five years in NYC! As a kid I used to pretend I was a mermaid caught in a pool waiting to be released back to the sea. Looks like I'm still that mermaid who will refuse to stop beaching it until we are all washed away. Maybe one day I'll live on a beach - wouldn't that be something...
With all these things coming up, what is there to wish for in these trying times? I always wish for love, but I think this time I will only wish for things that I can be grateful for. That I am not broken by my experiences and I still have an open heart. That I did not vote for a racist, sexist, xenophobic coward of a man to lead this country to ruin. That I voted for Hillary and that #Iamstillwithher. That I am a Nasty Woman, and that while we still have so much work to do, we have each other to keep moving forward. That I will continue to #resist. That I will not resort to casual, meaningless affairs to soothe my still broken heart because I deserve better. That I will let go of this sadness. That if this is the year of the rooster, then I’ll grab the rest of it by the cock and find a way out of this too. That, my friends, is what reflecting on a year is all about, and I am grateful.