"2009 began with a belated honeymoon and ended with separate beds in separate rooms in separate cities. When I put it like that it sounds pretty depressing, and in a lot of ways it is. But it's also a step away from a tired routine that, if we let it, would kill us – a game of responsibility-roulette that has alternately temporarily favored one person, but overall has taken all of our chips.
I know that there is more to me than my relationship, but I am constantly thinking about my wife, and how we worked so hard to be together and now we are apart. I have been so angry with myself for letting this happen – for getting fired, for not finding a job right away, for not saving when I was bringing home paychecks, for letting pain get the best of me, for not knowing who I should be or how to be that person – and 2010 is about putting aside that anger and moving forward, living every day for something more than what will eventually come from a string of days. 2010 is about recognizing just how much time I spent hiding in 2009, and addressing the issues that had me scurrying for cover.
I spent the second half of 2009 living in and refurbishing the bedroom that my parents once occupied, sifting through the rubble of lives snubbed out by smoke and dimness. While I've tried to transform this house, I've found the process alarmingly reciprocal, and I've felt myself cracking along with the wallpaper and losing my luster much like the old paint. I've gotten stuck in the dust and spiderwebs, lost my footing on the cracked linoleum and stained carpet, sunk days into cleaning out closets just to refill them. I am learning, though, and finding my way through the maze of memories and dust mites, moving toward a not-completely determined goal that will hopefully, eventually, provide some closure.
On a lighter note, the highlight of 2009 was my re-entry into UCR to finish my bachelor's degree in English, which I'll receive in June. I can't express how much this means to me (which is ironic given my major) and how much I appreciate all of the encouragement everyone has offered. I can't help but think of the following scene from Tommy Boy:
Tommy: Did you hear I finally graduated?
Richard Hayden: Yeah, and just a shade under a decade too, all right.
Tommy: You know a lot of people go to college for seven years.
Richard Hayden: I know, they're called doctors.
Through all of this, as in past years, I have been supported by friends and family on an assortment of levels. When I was having a rough go of it in Portland, you bought me whiskey to put in my mouth and into my lungs, and you ordered a delicious salad and let me share it with you. When I needed to see something in 3-D, we went and watched Avatar, or Coraline, or Up. When I needed help cleaning and decorating the den, you came with your expertise in cuteness, and sheer, furniture-moving brute strength. When I was sad about you moving northward, you came southward. When I doubted, you reinforced. Let's just say, if I were in a beauty pageant, and I had to give a speech about my hero, and my hero couldn't be a fictional character that lived with her three best friends in Miami, my speech would go on forever recounting how much all of my heroes have improved the world in which I happen to live.
I guess my point is this: While I had amazing experiences, countless laughs, and friendships that have taken root further than I imagined possible, overall, 2009 broke my heart. I know I'm not alone in this, and I've been amazed with the strength of some of my friends in the face of devastating factors. I haven't handled things quite as well, and I am working hard to make 2010 different. I have all the makings of happiness around me, in the people I'm lucky enough to know, and those unlucky enough to be related to me. I don't generally make new year's resolutions – the last one I made involved providing and receiving more forehead kisses and entering more contests – I'm going all in this year. I will be more open, more inquisitive, more contemplative, and more honest. If I could resolve to be less scared, I would, but that would violate my other goals. I can't promise to fear less, but I can endeavor to accept myself and my surroundings, to be less passive about both of those things, and ultimately, try to live more fearlessly."
Erin Mahoney is a student and copy editor in Riverside, CA. She loves television's Golden Girls. She can also play The Simpsons theme song on most every instrument. Fancy that.
Her very serious views on humanity can be seen at her blog, The things that are wrong with my brain.
If you missed any of the previous entries in this collection, here are the links.
• Kelly Vargas wants you to know that you've kept her in a welcome prison
• Joe Zavella's the man who loves you
• Viet Nguyen used to be too young to live
• Jake Kilroy's take on "growing up" in 2009
• Keith Hernandez talks about travel and family in 2009
• James Park drops some truth bombs about 2009
• I talk about lessons learned, '09 style