I didn’t even realize we were ushering in a new decade until last week or so. I think the toxic fumes from Charlie’s poop have stolen a few of my brain cells. Or perhaps he pulled them out during one of the million times he’s yanked on my hair. Whatever the case, I kind of crapped my pants after realizing that 2010 marks the beginning of a whole new decade. (That’s a metaphorical pants-crapping, folks.) And then I seized the opportunity to mark the occasion Leslie-style (ie, writing a really long emo blog post about my feeeeeeeeelings).
When NYE 1999 rolled around, I was a 20-year-old skinny train wreck of a girl who’d done a great many things to fuck up her life.
I was single (with a penchant for emotionally unavailable men) and living alone. I liked to smoke cigarettes and drink Dr. Pepper and drive around late at night doing both while cranking my tunes. I spent hours listening to the same songs over and over, dancing around my apartment, and hanging out online. I had stopped taking college classes for the time being, because it felt like too much and all I wanted to do was write and shut the world out. I had stopped talking about what was hurting, because all I really wanted was a good nervous breakdown that would land me in a mental hospital, far away from distractions and expectations and noise and men. There was either a lot of sleep or not enough of it. There was a lot of writing: streams-of-consciousness, poetry, journal entries, attempts at stories. There was a lot of smoking. A lot of confusion. A lot of tears. And regret. That was my life. Completely unbalanced and precarious. I was desperately depressed, lonely, scared of the world. I wanted nothing more than to have a life of my choosing. And to be happy.
If I can remember correctly, I spent NYE 1999 out at a party for awhile, but when it came time to ring in the New Year, I decided I wanted to be home alone where I could be all depressed in peace and silence. At that time in my life, I was hung up on yet another guy who just wasn’t that into me, so of course we weren’t spending New Year’s together. All I really wanted that night was to welcome the new millennium knowing I was truly loved. I had serious doubts that anyone would ever love me the way I needed to be loved.
In 2000, I finally moved away from the place where I grew up. My primary goal was to just get the hell away from everything that had plagued me for so long. (When you live in a small town, everyone knows your secrets. Or it feels that way, at least.) After a year of living in an even smaller town (and what a year that was), the summer of 2001 found me moving to southern California with my new boyfriend. I didn’t think we’d be together forever, because I didn’t believe in that sort of thing, but I also knew that I needed my life to change and, in order for that to happen, I needed a change of scenery. (Not to say that I didn’t love him, because I did. But that love was limited, because I was, and because he was, too.)
I had been in California for less than a month when 9/11 came swooping in and changed the world.
And that was the catalyst that swooped in and changed me. I was no longer the only person in the world who suffered. Right in front of my eyes, I saw people suffering. Dying. It was the most awful thing I’d ever seen, but at that point in my life, being a witness to that horror was necessary. It brought me out of my sad little self and into the world at large.
And so I woke up. I worked. I went back to school. I wrote. I submitted my poetry for publication and some of it was actually accepted. I went to poetry readings and plays and other cultural things. I made friends. I maintained a four-year relationship that was good most of the time. I wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be, but I was getting there.
And when my relationship fell apart, I was able to pick myself up, find a therapist, and move on in a mostly healthy way. At the beginning of 2005, soon after the breakup (too soon, I felt at the time), I met Roy. (He did take his time asking me out, though, so that helped with the time factor.) After our first date on March 14, 2005, we fell in love hard in a matter of weeks. Seven months later, we moved in together.
On May 14, 2006, Roy asked me to marry him, and of course I said yes.
On July 14, 2007, we were married. It was perfect. Family, friends, promises, sunshine, blue skies, music, love.
On September 24, 2008, we found out we were having a baby. I will never forget my pregnancy, the ups and downs of it all. The pregnancy test coming up positive. The first time we saw Charlie on the ultrasound screen. The ultrasound we had that confirmed he was a boy. Feeling him move around inside me. It was all so, so amazing.
On June 8, 2009, we welcomed our first child, Charles Jacob, into the world. And let me tell you that nothing I have ever experienced in my life could have ever prepared me for the knock-me-off-my-feet love that I have for my son. And nothing could have prepared me for the total mindfuck that is motherhood.
Charlie’s birth was, without a doubt, the event of this decade that changed and shaped me most. Much of what happened that day is a giant painful and devastating blur. But I remember coming up from the darkness and seeing Roy holding Charlie. My husband. My son. Together for the first time. The picture is blurry, but it’s there. It’s mine. (i carry it in my heart)
And now I sit here on the last day of this uproar of a decade as a woman, a wife, a mother. Three things I wasn’t when 2000 showed its face. I was remarkably deficient (or so I felt) when we rolled into this new millennium. I couldn’t imagine a life where I could be happily married with a child. I wasn’t sure where my life was headed. I still have no idea what’s in store for me. But I have been happily surprised at the way things have turned around for me, that I’ve done some things I never thought I could.
I am proud of myself for the things I’ve accomplished. Getting my BA, getting published, learning photography, going to grad school, going to therapy, banishing toxic people from my life, making room for the good ones, adopting three kitties, quitting smoking, getting a real job, quitting the real job, maintaining a good marriage, becoming a mother, becoming someone who is happy, building a life for myself. And conquering darkness.
It took a long time, but happiness, that elusive bitch, eventually found me. Or I found her. Or maybe we found each other, because we were destined to be together. I don’t really believe in destiny, but sometimes it’s the only answer. Or maybe change is the answer. Me, I’m a big believer in making changes. And trying new things. And embracing fear. But then letting it go.
Because it’s only in the letting go that you find the change you need to make your life a good one.
But really, with how much I’ve changed in the last ten years, I’m still remarkably the same. I still long for an authentic and creative life. I still am plagued by doubt and low self-confidence. I still turn to the written word as my primary way to understand anything and everything. I still mourn for my dad and how nothing about his illness has been fair to him. I still have no idea how to do my hair or how to put on makeup effectively. I still wear blue jeans, T-shirts, and flip flops. I still can get drunk off one apple martini. I still hate shaving my legs. I still love blue toenail polish. I still love Tori Amos. I still hoard office supplies. I still love to be silly and watch thoughtful movies and listen to music while driving fast. I still resort to sarcasm because it’s still who I am.
And most of all, I’m still here - a 30-year-old woman-child. I’m welcoming 2010 with the knowledge that I am truly loved, but more importantly, that I finally know how to truly love.
Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I see a whole world looking back.
But deep down I know it’s just a girl.
I know it’s a human being.
I know it’s me.
Happy New Year!