And now for a long overdue post…
The new year started out pretty rough for me. It’s a period of time that I’d rather not waste any more emotional energy on because even a year later a lot of the feelings are still raw. I would never claim to be an overly positive person but I’d rather just focus and remember the good things that happened during this time frame: cozy weekends snuggled with the kitties, lots of Bikram yoga, vintage pyrex scored at a nearby thrift store, and a last minute trip to NYC where I self-medicated by eating everything in sight, though that can probably be said about any trip to NYC. Four donuts before dinner and a bottle of full sugar pistachio milk? Why the hell not. We ate our way around the city, stayed out all night with some old friends, stumbled in (late) to brunch with different friends, ate our favorite Russ and Daughter’s bagels on the rooftop of our hotel, explored some new NYC places, and then finished off the trip with massive pastrami sandwiches from Katz’s Deli. It’s impossible to visit NYC and not come away feeling the tiniest bit more alive, more creative, and more excited about life.
January draaaagggeeedd into February. And then came the weather. It’s not like it was my first winter with snow, but this year it really took it out of me and was more a reflection of my state of mind than the actual weather. When you are feeling shitty, having to drive through shitty conditions surrounded by the worst drivers ever just makes it that much worse. So what to do when life gives you nonstop blizzards? Go snowboarding!
Honestly the first three months of the year was just one big dark tunnel with tiny dots of light (thank god for date nights!). I had to constantly remind myself that it could be worse. I mean, it could *always* be worse, and really what I was going through in the grand scheme of things of life was just a blip on a screen. Evenso, when you’re wading through it, it’s hard to see an end in sight. I am by no means a beacon of light but the best (and oftentimes worst) thing about life is that it’s always changing. By the end of March, life threw me an unexpected curve ball and I decided from that point on to do a do-over: a clean slate for the rest of the year. The ball of emotions didn’t go away overnight but at least I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. More importantly we celebrated Sly’s birthday with an old-school roller skating party. Sometimes it takes being a kid again to really make you appreciate the little things in life.
Sly was away for work so for some of April so I took a “mental vacation” and pretty much allowed myself to watch all the crappy TV I could handle, read stupid YA novels, and eat a daily diet of cheese popcorn and cheetos. Some people meditate or go to the spa, I eat chips. I reached out to old friends. I spilled my guts. They spilled theirs. We became stronger friends. Max ran away. He came back. We went to our first Comicon. I met Xander from my all-time fav tv show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We resumed date nights. Life started feeling normal again. I started to feel like myself again.
Is it possible that if you will something enough that THE UNIVERSE conspires with you? If that’s the case then I totally burned my one wish on a beach day at Virginia Beach. A side effect of growing up in Houston where it’s sweltering like 90% of the year is that I hate being hot. Except I couldn’t stop dreaming about the beach. For months I dreamed about lying on the warm sand and feeling nothing but skin cancerous levels of hot. We thought about memorial day but then decided the over-inflated room rates weren’t worth it. Then, out of nowhere, Sly asked if I wanted to tag along on a last minute work trip to Virginia Beach. Coincidence, fate, a gift from the heavens or the power of positive beach thinking — whatever it was, this trip to the beach, for whatever reason, was one of my favorite memories of the year. In May we also said goodbye to some good friends we made while in DC and finally hiked Great Falls.
When Sly told me that one of his old academy friends was getting married in Providence, I jumped at the chance to extend our stay in Providence to a New England road trip all the way up to Maine to Acadia National Park. We had so much fun exploring, eating, camping, getting up early to watch sunrises, getting bitten by a million mosquitoes as we watched sunsets, hiking and discovering another place that will always hold such a special place in our hearts. It was a perfect summer trip.
Sly’s family returned from being stationed abroad and spent a good chunk of the summer in DC and Atlanta. Our oldest niece spent the night at our house and we made pizzas and stayed up late watching Anne of Green Gables and eating frozen yogurt. On the 4th of July we had one big family (and neighborhood) bbq at my BIL/SIL’s house. Afterward we met up in ATL for even more family time. We spent lots of sticky hot afternoons coming up with games, swimming in Lake Lanier, playing at the playground and staying up late figuring out crossword puzzles. Before driving back home we hit up Great Smoky Mountains NP where we hiked to Mt. LeConte and checked staying in a cabin at the top of the smoky mountains off our mental bucket list.
In searching for pictures from August for this post I was confused as to why I could barely find any photos. Then I remembered: I was sick for over half of August. Fun times. So most of August was spent in bed, watching Real Housewives of NYC on Netflix, while being kept company by my ever-loyal Max who stayed beside me the entire time, bringing me his favorite toys to play with him. I know every mama of fuzzy babies says this, but I really have the best kitties. On one of the days when I was not sick we managed to explore Manasses Battlefield Park, attended an outdoor concert (Royksopp!) at Wolf Trap, and sampled a bunch of wines from the “wine loft” at the nearby Whole Foods (so awesome! totally recommended). At the end of the month we flew back to Houston to see family. Despite getting sick in August, this was one of the best summers in recent memory.
Just before we left for Houston we found out that my mom and brother’s kitty suddenly and unexpectedly passed away from heart failure. My mom took it especially hard. It was good to be in Houston with family, hitting up all our favorite spots, eating the never-ending meals my mom so lovingly cooked, and celebrating my mom’s birthday at a trendy Houston hot spot. My brother also adopted a new shelter kitty — a chubby purebred Siamese named Bella. Things started to really pick up in September — I was really busy with work, we took another last minute trip to Richmond, Sly’s parents came to visit, and we found out that there was a good chance we’d be moving to Korea.
October is my favorite month of the year. I love the changing seasons, the crisp autumn air, hot drinks and cozy sweaters. I love Halloween and scary movies. We spent a lot of our weekends being homebodies — building fires, cooking, baking cookies and catching up on Dr. Who. We usually plan a big(er) trip during this time of year — one, because it’s usually off-season and two, to celebrate our anniversary. This year we kept things simple and closer to home, taking a road trip along the Blue Ridge mountains and FINALLY hiking to the top of Old Rag — something we have been wanting to do ever since moving to this coast.
By mid-November we had a pretty good idea that we would be moving overseas the following year so we began preparing for the move. We went through EVERYTHING, selling and donating a huge chunk of our stuff. It was cathartic but also really hard — a lot of sentimental things that I would never have thought I could get rid of, I did. I had to keep telling myself that memories were not things, something that I think will take me a lifetime to fully adhere to. In the end I consolidated three closets and two dressers full of crap down to one shared closet and one shared dresser. I don’t think I’ll ever be a true minimalist, but it was a start. Instead of traveling home for Thanksgiving my sister held an orphan Thanksgiving dinner at her and her bf’s place. We brought the turkey — brined for over 24 hrs (the best turkey ever, I must say) — and I brought a bunch of bizarre Thanksgiving dinner potato chips. After stuffing ourselves silly, we watched football and of course, Lord of the Rings.
I turned another day older and then the movers came in December and packed our lives away. What we didn’t sell or donate was mostly packed into storage. What was left over was shipped overseas. Once our house was empty, Sly’s parents came up and we spent about a week removing wallpaper, painting, and updating our place for future renters. I was so focused on checking items off our moving checklist that I never really allowed myself to process that we were moving out of our first home. Our perfect little home that we loved so much — that now someone else would get to enjoy. It didn’t really hit me until I saw Max wandering around the now empty house staring at the last of the autumn leaves flutter and fall off the tree outside our window. That felt like a couple punches to the gut saying goodbye to this chapter of our lives and I wondered if we were making the right decision, not just for us, but for our families. It was only a brief moment of what if because we had to focus on getting the kitties ready for an overseas trip which was hands down the worst thing about moving overseas. With our house spic and span and gleaming white we packed the kitties, drove to Atlanta, dropped them off at their grandparents, and took a mini road trip to Nashville, Memphis and then headed home to Houston for the holidays. We have been living out of a suitcase ever since…
I am always surprised by how much can change in the course of the year — how a year that starts off shitty can turn into a year with so many special memories. 2014 went by so fast, as it always does. I still feel like I’m trying to catch up.