"2009 was the year I turned nineteen, the age I will remain until late April. I spent the entire year keeping to myself, keeping secrets, and making more secrets to be kept. The theme for the year was “loneliness,” because, despite the fact that I was lucky enough to have numerous friends and family willing to go to great lengths to try and connect with me, I was usually far too shy or embarrassed to allow it. This separateness, along with a great deal of anxiety caused by living in a new city and going to a new school, is what made me decide to try and be more independent.
Although I did not accomplish some of the bigger goals that were on my list, like getting a job or a driver’s license, I did become less needy and more self-sufficient. I learned how to take the bus. I learned to go places on my own and have somewhat of a life, even if I didn’t have any friends to share it with. I learned that the color orange isn’t so bad and often looks good on Indian people. And probably most importantly, even though my learner’s permit is now expired, I drove a car. I drove, and because of this I learned that I shouldn’t be afraid to crash and die because no matter what, there will be someone next to me in that passenger seat who is obviously willing to crash and die with me. Obviously.
But that’s a really silly way of putting it. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel so far away from everyone that I had to find ways to get used to being lonely. I have friends who moved to San Francisco and I am lucky to see them twice a year, if that. I have friends who are busy with new relationships just as I watched my own come to a painful and abrupt close. I have friends who struggle to support themselves by working ridiculous hours every day, and are too miserable and exhausted in their free time to want to see me. The way things have turned out is very strange and rather uncomfortable for me at times. It seems that the people I spend the most time with are my sister’s friends, you guys. If you’re reading this, chances are I see you more often than I see even my best friends. I always have fun with you, and sometimes (usually the drunker times) I even feel like I might belong. But those moments of warmth and contentment quickly fade as I sober up and hear these words ringing in my ears, “Nineteen? That makes me feel so old.”
2009 was full of inside jokes that I didn’t get.
But enough sad-bastard Kelly. Let’s talk about some more things I learned last year. Because I spent 2009 alone, I guess the most important things about the year were the things I learned to do when I’m alone. No, not those things you pervert. I mean the other things I’ve learned, like how to argue the hell out of an issue and make my point clearly, or how to analyze the form of a film. I learned that I have some things in common with Andy Warhol that I kind of wish I didn’t, but it’s still pretty cool that I do. I learned that Scottish Fold kittens are way too expensive and I will probably never own one. I learned how to watch Hey Arnold! online for free. I learned that I want to major in philosophy and apply to law school when I graduate. I learned to never trust my wiener dog alone with an entire pizza. Well, technically I learned that this year. I wish I learned it in 2009, then maybe I would have some damn ass pizza in my fridge.
To sum everything up in this boring, poorly written essay thing, I learned a lot in 2009. Although I’d like to think that I’m stubborn and steadfast in my ways, it is apparent that the year has changed me noticeably. But whether it’s for better or for worse, I‘m not sure. What I am sure of, is that I’m willing to change a whole lot more this year, and I’m ready and dying for an adventure."
Kelly Mahoney is a currently a student at my alma mater, UC Riverside. She really, really, really loves pugs. Almost as much as I like fat cats.
Kelly tweets @naomifullbloom, but as of yet I'm her only follower. Let's do something to change that, shall we? Together, we can make a difference.
If you missed any of the previous entries in this collection, here are the links.
• Candice Brown gains a new family in 2009
• The Sloh Abides
• Erin has the ingredients for happiness in 2010
• 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