A quick read of my Facebook and Twitter feed, a common theme permeates: 2016 sucked! From the untimely deaths of Prince, George Michael and Carrie Fisher, to the defeat of Hillary Clinton, many believed 2016 more catastrophic than a Shakespeare tragedy. But for me, 2016 was more a tale of adventure and self-discovery where I began to see my future not as what my younger self believed it should be, but for what my older self could finally see it could be without the constraints of conformity and tradition.
This was the year, I fully embraced my singleness. I gave myself permission to never marry and started to believe a long-term companion is a better fit for me—but in the short-term, a boy-toy is a good option.
After years of struggle, I envisioned my life free of children. Finally, my biological clock had run out of batteries and any maternal instincts I may have had, died along with them too. I thought I would be sad not to have the kid experience, not to be a mother, but now I just look at kids as a drain on my lifestyle, and overall, they just annoy me.
In April, I moved back to an apartment after living in a rental house for 16 months giving me the opportunity to evaluate everything I was moving with and determining if it was worth moving again—a first step to embracing a minimalistic lifestyle.
I purged things I had held on to for 20 years, finally realizing that after dragging serving dishes, bowls, fondue pots, up and down the East Coast for the first 10 years and then carefully storing them in my 800 square foot DC apartment for the next 10 years, I don’t like to entertain. And so with one, then two, and then three and four trips to Good Will, I gave away all that stuff that was supposed to make me the world’s best hostess. I was free with just a waffle iron and over 20 wine glasses!
The Great Purge of 2016 was a pivotal moment—as I began to shed the stuff around me that no longer had purpose or meaning, I began to shed the part of me that had hoped for a different life, a different outcome—it no longer appealed to me—new, more exciting options floated to the surface and the desire to reach out and touch them outweighed those that were being dragged under.
I moved to the new apartment and cut my living size by nearly half. I had lived small before, but this time it wasn’t about just living small, it was living for the now—my new question had become, how do I live today, not how I want to live or how I hope to live? With this question, I began to focus on simplicity, needs rather than wants, experiences over stuff. Shopping became a chore and I avoided it as much as humanly possible, often times leaving just minutes after entering the store. I preferred to spend my time in endless searches of new travel destinations, outlining my itinerary and stalking airlines for good fares to Europe or anywhere outside the US.
It was a big year for travel. In May, I marked my two-year accident anniversary with a trip to London, which bumped NYC to the #2 spot of favorite world cities as London stole my heart. Over Labor Day, I ventured to Iceland, and snorkeled between the North America and Euroasia tectonic plates. And while I missed the Blue Lagoon, with just a six-hour flight from DC, Iceland is definitely on my must-go back country list. And then over Thanksgiving, I ventured to Budapest where I was enthralled with communism-era history and shared vodka shots with a fellow traveler at a communist-themed bar, Red Ruins. And finally, it was supposed to be Ecuador for Christmas, but Mother Nature had other plans and United couldn’t get me where I needed to go when I needed to get there, so rather than running from Christmas, I ran into the eye of the storm and spent Christmas weekend in the heart of New York City. Christmas morning was nothing short of magical—with my coffee in hand from the corner store, I walked across the street to Bryant Park where I had a rink side seat watching people of all ages, and from all countries skate the frozen circle as Christmas carols played on the loud speaker, the tree glistened and the Empire State Building peaked out from the bundle of skyscrapers surrounding it. The present of that moment was enough for a lifetime of Christmases—truly magical!
So as I look to 2017, I am more hopeful than I’ve been in some time. This doesn’t mean I see rainbows and unicorns in 2017, but I have a bit more direction than I did on January 1, and for that I am hopeful. Not every day is going to be a “high on you” kind of day, and yes, I’ll still wish I had a video editor to edit out the crappy days, the boring days, the lonely days, the sad days, the I suck days, so I can be as awesome as everybody else on Facebook. But if 2016 taught me anything, life is going to suck a little bit, sometimes a lot, and it doesn’t always turn out the way it’s supposed to be—but then someday, it doesn’t suck as bad as it once did and you think, I’m going to be okay, it’s not perfect, it’s not what I thought it would be, but it’s going to be okay.