This was written a few weeks ago in preparation for my trip to Boston, where I am at this very moment ringing in the new year while being terribly, terribly cold. Enjoy!
In the shower today, I was thinking about this past year. There are some years where you can’t really remember what happened in them–they’re a pretty standard accumulation of the component parts that make up most of your life. This was not one of those.
This time last year, I was preparing to go to Dakar. I spent January through May of 2012 in West Africa, with a stopover in Barcelona and Paris. I had never been out of the country for that long, and I had never been to Africa or to Europe.
While in Dakar, I got used to taking cold showers and malaria pills. I sweated a lot. I drank in parks and was mopey and climbed inside a baobab tree and on a termite mound. I learned how to carry money, ID, and my phone tucked away in my bra after I had my phone stolen on my birthday. I was homesick. My dog died.
My parents came for spring break and we spent it in Barcelona. It was beautiful. I felt a little guilty for having parents who were able to come. We stayed in a beautiful apartment and ate many, many plates of tapas. A cute waiter asked us how to say “cider” in English.
I spent a week in Paris on my way back from Dakar. I used my French without once being made fun of. I saw beautiful things and ate a lot of crepes and realized that I was totally able to travel on my own. I stayed in a French woman’s apartment and drank wine with her one night.
I came back from Dakar in May to begin the horrible roller-coaster ride of a family member’s cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment. That defined the rest of the year. It sucked. (It still sucks.) I spent a lot of time crying in parking garages on my way to and from a job that I have mixed feelings about.
At the same time, I had the opportunity to spend the summer working in the sexual violence prevention program at my university. I did work that I am proud of and had coworkers that I respect. It was a wonderful experience in the midst of a terrible one.
I considered graduating at the end of the summe. I made the conscious choice to stay at Emory in order to work on an honors project that I am still not totally certain I want to finish. I’m still not sure how I feel about that decision.
In early August, I moved into my first off-campus apartment. I spent a week decorating it. I figured out how one goes about furnishing a new place and setting up utilities. I put my name on a lease. (I also put my parents’ names on the lease, because let’s be real, I do not have any useful credit as far as the rental company is concerned.)
Classes started in late August, and I (along with my classmates) learned how to maintain friendships outside of the dorms. Some of our efforts were more successful than others. I only had class on Tuesday and Thursday, and I thought that I would use the extra time to travel. I didn’t.
I kept working on sexual assault prevention.
In October, I started looking for jobs post-grad. I was offered an interview at one company that was later retracted. It sucked. I was offered an interview at another company that was not retracted. It’s ongoing.
In November, my family member had her surgery and began recovery. I drank a lot of wine and realized just how great my friends are.
Right now, it’s mid-December. I’m about to go spend a week with my family, and then a week in Boston on a spur-of-the-moment New Year’s trip with a friend. I am excited.
Despite the terrible, terrible roller coaster of the last year, I started 2012 pretty excited for what would come. I don’t know that I’m starting 2013 in the same way (mostly, I’m just scared of graduating). But I do think that 2012 showed me that I can do a hell of a lot in a pretty short span of time, and that no matter what 2013 brings it cannot possibly cover the insane emotional ground of 2012’s travel-dead dog-malaria-cancer-job hunt extravaganza.