|New Years Eve 2011|
Staring out across my yard at the Christmas lights garish against the December night sky and trying to pick out a singular light bulb the way I've tried to pick out the exact moments this past year that have changed my life.
"Where are you going?" I asked him this day last year.
"I have to go help my best friend propose to his girlfriend. Happy New Year, let's get married, that sort of deal"
He smiled but there was something beneath it that I wouldn't understand until months later.
I stood in the back alley that night, caught up in the longness of the day, exhaling and wishing on the streetlights for lack of stars that I could get through this next year.
The Fault In Our Stars.
There is something about this book that epitomizes this year.
I saved it up for a road trip, because I instinctively knew it was special.
Existentially fraught free throws, and the pursuit of anything with lasting value.
Love is keeping the promise anyways, even if you didn't know the implications when you swore "for always" in the first place.
You put the killing thing between your lips but you leave it powerless to destroy you.
You don't choose whether or not you get hurt in this world, but you do get some say in who hurts you.
Mostly, though, to embrace the infinities within life, no matter their length.
I fell head over heels for this sport and the way the cold nips my nose, stomach drops as you build up speed,
the lodge, conversations with strangers around the fire, impromptu friendships, the cafeteria in the basement where you can sit with coffee and a book, the fire escapes, artwork on the walls and the view of the sun setting over the river. One week and I'll be jiggling the key in the lock of Four-Nineteen, my family's attic penthouse where we live in this massive space with beds pushed up against the walls and you can see into all three states from the window. There were so many memories from this year, and I'll hold onto them for awhile.
On falling out.
The words becoming fewer and the voices more hoarse. Of losing eye contact, dropping my eyes to the floor.
The space becomes a canyon. And it hurts. Tears on nights when the air seems thin, releasing the barbed wire of a friendship that's turned murky, hand bleeding, then scabbing over until it's just a faint scar that I run my thumb over and smile at the nice memories from time to time.
And expecting everything to change. Expecting to feel six inches taller, lots smarter and waking up to the dreadful realization that change takes effort and not just time.
There were quite a few places I went this Summer, none of them caught me quite like City Museum. Located in urban Saint Louis, it's this immense building, with an operating Ferris wheel and school bus on the roof and rooms full of things that are beautiful, but more importantly, touchable. The experience is so well worth it. A Neverland of whimsy/ Old battered piano, second hand clothing shop, ten story slide, indoor carnival, mosaic floor, tunnels and places to think. You could get lost inside it's walls and never be entirely sad about it.
Was exhausting in ways I cannot begin to explain. It lasted forever and kept me running on the treadmill of it at breakneck speeds.. Saw the country and yet felt alone. hundred degree weather I couldn't stand.
Whispered wishes for autumn to come soon. Wasted the summer praying in vain for a savior to rise from these streets.
My Best friend fell in love.
And there aren't many words that I can bring out to describe this. To see the look on her face when she talks about him, or messages from him swearing he loves her more than anything else. Their happiness is infectious.
It all just went really fast, however, and I wish that the summer hadn't been so crazy so I could have mentally recorded it for a better story telling experience. They are just so beautiful.
With a gust of air and pounding rain that washed away the dry draught of summer and filled me with it's sapphire blue skies and leaves like perfect flames. Camping trip that was a Dustland Fairytale, wandering down gravel roads alone at night to watch the stars this far out from the city. A boy jumping off the end of a pick up truck, running up to me and saying "I know you think I'm crazy, but I just had to let you know how beautiful you are"
Trying not to laugh and whispering thank you. Bruce Springsteen's Thunder Road "They scream your name at night in the streets, graduation gown lies in rags at your feet". Our silent mantra of november-november-november and the way that the trees look like an impressionist painting when they're scattered among the hills.
I have to say that this year, for the first time, the words have taken a life of their own. Looking through this blog, there haven't been all that many posts. Acknowledging that, I wish I could show you the notebooks, the documents, the handwritten letters that may have been lost but at least they were sent. They have become a large piece of who I am.
You can only write what you've observed, so I've been staring at life with eyes wide open, like an artist trying to catch the way a shadow falls across the room.
There have been innumerable people that have come across my path in twenty-twelve.
No one else touched my life in the way Katie has. She brought to light all the things that I've passed over a thousand times unnoticed. She's shared stories, and within them, truth. We've laughed over boys and cried over loneliness. Birds as metaphors and long journal entries. Guster, Noah and the Whale, music that changed our lives. Long days, happy minutes. Photographs and artwork. Postcards and tickets to follow along on one another's adventures. She has inspired me to write like a madwoman. To not let life slip through my fingers. To drink stronger coffee and talk to more strangers. I am so incredibly thankful for her.
She's left the best of fingerprints on this year.
Katherine & Scout.
During the month of November, Katie and I wrote a novel together.
Her Dad asked if it was going to be a Perks of Being a Wallflower fan fiction, and I howled with laughter. Katherine & Scout is about young women lost in Seattle, searching for hope in the bottom of their coffee mugs, and on the spines of the books that line Doris' bookshop. It's a story about loneliness, and ultimately hope.
About memories, and how they become puzzle pieces of your own personal history book.
It's about falling in love and traveling far.
And ultimately looking back long enough to give yourself courage to move forward.
I plan on posting a bit in the near future about the inspiration behind the 50,000 words, as well as some of our collaborative writing. In it's imperfections, which are many, I love it because it stands for everything we've fought to preserve this year.
Every little bit I can catch and save the notes for later like worn paper in my pockets. From a stranger playing Fur Elise on the lodge's piano to the adult alt bands that play on the little stage in the corner to adorable guys with acoustic guitars in downtown Saint Louis late at night to Tegan and Sara with The Killers at my first choice transfer college and Ray LaMontagne like a prayer at the Chicago Theatre.
All those bits of live, raw, goose bump inducing music memories are priceless. I want to watch street performers and hopeless musicians as well as the artists that have changed my life in ways that I get choked up trying to explain make the music that fills my soul, watch as the lies that fill up my journals make their way across a rippling, swaying crowd. I'm in love with live music and that feeling you get when you look around at all the faces aglow, feeling the least alone you've ever felt.
There you have a very brief overview of this year.
So many things are on the horizon for twenty-thirteen. Most of all, I want to learn how to love till I'm empty.
Make life beautiful for others as well as myself. Fight loneliness like a cold. Have many moments in which infinity seems plausible.