this year


I made mistakes this year, all of which felt gargantuan at the time—all of which seem relatively trivial now, but are still important, because, most of all, I learned from them. And so the embarrassment of these mistakes is masked by acknowledgment, embracement, and recovery through understanding. Though most of my lessons this year were taught in the form of feeling and fearing and losing and destroying love (of all things) I really think that love is one of the most important emotions to know completely, even though that is often so hard to admit.

I think that sometimes the most difficult person to understand is yourself. As you get older you quickly become more and more aware of all the layers. There are too many layers. There are layers to yourself that feel so normal at one moment and so horrid the next. And that is, in my experience, the most frightening feeling of all: when you wake up in the morning and you can’t remember the person you were last night. You look in the mirror and you can’t recognize the person you’ve seen each time you’ve looked in the mirror over the past nineteen years. Your actions are read back to you and you can’t recall yourself. You are ashamed of yourself.

I began this year in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart on the eastern edge of San Antonio. At midnight I parked my car underneath a highway bridge and kissed a girl. I had a feeling, even then--despite the kiss--that the year 2009 would consist of many pitfalls and reckless nerves.

In front of a coffee shop on the outskirts of Austin, I learned my first lesson about real love—it persists even after the parties involved have torn each other down. Real love builds us back up.

In the front seat of my 4runner, in the parking lot of a bookstore, at the end of the coldest months of the year, I learned that real love, however misguided, is forgiving. But also that misguided love is hopelessly flawed and, regrettably, temporary.

On a canvas on the floor of the bedroom in my parents’ house, I learned that no matter how hard you try to forget someone, you only carry them longer the harder you try.

At the end of March I learned I was not a smart vegan.

Underneath a streetlamp in the suburbs, I learned that no matter how kind and giving and honest you are, you cannot make anyone love you. I learned my own strength, and my ability to recognize an unhealthy presence in my life, and be rid of it.

At the end of the spring I learned that real love truly loves you unconditionally, even without reciprocation. But this love, I also learned, can quickly become greedy, and will selfishly turn you against all the exits in order to keep you under its wing, even at the expense of your own well being.

As the first signs of summer began to spring, I learned to understand the most unforgivable of actions in the most horrible way.

In a small bedroom lacking air-conditioning, I was brutally, gut-wrenchingly, and baldly honest. And in that honesty, I finally recognized to myself the real weight of my actions. I learned that some things are simply unforgivable, no matter how badly you want to cling to the notion that forgiveness is possible.

The final shred of evidence of my once respectable self was ripped away with the departure of my source of life support. I learned that dishonorable actions do not, eventually, go unpunished.

On the cold tile floor of an empty apartment I learned to accept my mistakes as my own. Most importantly, I learned to accept the blame for my own misfortunes, and my abandonment.

On the first notably dark evening on the year, I said goodbye to my family for the real first time, and I learned how much I could truly love and miss someone. And in the missing of them, I learned how much I truly appreciated them. I learned that real love persists, despite nineteen years of conflict and resolution.

Amidst a fever and the first signs of fall, I learned that it is not so much about understanding the difference of opinion, but the indifference of it. I learned that despite how much hurt is inflicted, or how much time has passed, or how much love is shared and lost and shredded, there is room for forgiveness.

On the first almost-cold night of November, I walked around the city of my newfound home, and I learned that the best friends you can ever make are the ones that trust you enough to be there to fall back on. I learned that these friends are the ones you owe the most to, because they trusted you first.

And finally, through the peep-hole of unit B, I spotted a missing link, and I remembered everything I had learned at once. I remembered so much undeserved love, the bitterness of its departure, the sheer pain of the emptiness it left behind, accepting all of the blame so silently, and finally feeling peaceful. And I learned another lesson in the art of starting over, however slowly or reservedly. I learned that the things you are most patient in waiting for are really the only things worth waiting for.

This year I learned to accept the fact that layers change, so people change, so relationships change, so love inevitably changes. Sometimes love changed is love lost, but lessons lie amongst the residue that are painful to face, but the most important to know completely, I think.

This year I have loved, ohh I have loved, and I do not regret.


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