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A Year Has Passed

I ruffle through diaries from the past year, stringing together moments and memories to sum up my experience. Like a distant relative I’m trying to catch up with but forgetting every detail along the way. Blacking out most everything from the past year with glimmers of sparkly things (a ring I took from the yoga studio because it was in the lost and found for 8 months and I told myself I deserved it), and dinners in dimly lit restaurants that feel fancier and more LA than I ever will, and, in between, Facetimes across the country at 8 am or 10:22 pm or 11:53 am or 1:23 am or 2:02 pm or any time of the day because friendship is a full-time job. A camping trip to Idyllwild, blasting Reputation so loudly it lingered in my ears for hours after, kissing Colin for the first time on a couch I didn’t know at the time but one I’ve since grown more comfortable calling home, seeing my writing come to life through a lens, on a page, and spoken in someone’s mouth, and a crew huddled together in my one-bedroom Hollywood apartment to make something that felt like the most right thing I’ve ever done, telling myself each morning I directed that it was time to put on my man suit, abusing AMC A-list to the point that it feels like a tiny crime I’m committing every time I see the maximum amount of three movies a week, a screening filled with so much love and support, feeling so incredibly grateful for my small community of people who look at me and say run, jump, go, don’t slow down, you got this, hugging people tightly after resisting the urge to ask what they thought, knowing in my heart I was proud of myself and that’s all that mattered, and a girl pulling me aside after saying I really related to that, and feeling wholly content knowing I had done what I set out to do, and I could rest.

Last year I was in an apartment on a street I hated walking but was close to a friend who gave me a life in LA when I was worried I wouldn’t find one. I left that apartment and found a new home in Echo Park with roommates who are artists who moan the same way I do about art and working and side hustles and why we picked this path. I worked at a yoga studio where people talked to me like I had never graduated high school and sometimes I would scream in the laundry room that was down a sketchy hall, certain that if I screamed loud enough maybe someone would hear me. I quit that yoga job. I started a copywriting program not because I knew it was the right thing to do, but because I knew I just needed to do something. I lost a friend. I lost a friendship. I made new ones. I fell in love. I said I was a writer/director for the first time and I didn’t cross my arms or apologize or make a joke afterward or slouch over when I said it. I just said it. I went to my brother’s wedding and wrote him a note before he walked down the aisle that I hope he keeps near him in a drawer. Sometimes I worry he threw it out. I wrote. And I wrote. The most words I’ve ever written.

Art by Maddy Sutka

I shouted and screamed this year and in the shouting, I found something that resembled a voice. A perspective. I wrote and realized thesis paragraphs, correct grammar, and organized thoughts were all barriers to entry for a gift I could possess not in thesis statements but in poems and ramblings about womanhood that make me feel less alone when I’m writing them, knowing someone somewhere could be reading them and feel better or less alone too. And knowing it’s my little mark on this planet that already has a lot of marks. Hoping my marks don’t resemble anyone’s entirely, but instead, they stand next to other’s marks in a larger conversation. Adding to it. Adding more empathy into this world.

A year has passed.

I look to past me to inform current me and current me can’t recall the lump sum of lessons learned. Rather a feeling. A sense of deep breathing and thought. Finding my footing, even if the ground is still crumbling underneath me. Breathing in these moments as a reminder of life lived when life breathes you out. Extracting yourself. Plucking yourself out of your silly, tiny life for a moment to reflect. Because reflecting makes us feel better like we’ve progressed on this seemingly hamster wheel we call life. I do this every year. I’m on the heels of 26 and with each birthday we’re told to look back at our year. Reminisce. Be proud. Acknowledge. With every year we’re expected to know more about ourselves. We’re expected to take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re going. I stare at my journals full of scribblings of emotions, meanderings

about the loneliness of our 20s, and moments in time, but they all blend together like chicken scratch. And suddenly I feel like I’ve woken up from a dream. Did I live this life? Was I 25?

Art by Maddy Sutka

The unraveling of a year lived is feeling, a hollowness to your heart when the stethoscope hits your chest. And you’re wondering if you’re whole. Because the reality is nothing has changed. The year. The time between then and now. And it breaks my heart to look back on a year of life lived and feel confusion. Knowing there were moments I felt alive and lived, but there’s a fuzziness to it. Like I’m looking at it without my glasses on. I see a figure dancing in the middle of a room. Twirling in a pink sequin dress, wondering if that was me? Is me? Or if it’s some other thing entirely. A dream I made up in my mind.

My birthday is still spent asking the same questions I never answered from the year before like an overdue homework assignment I shoved in my desk drawer only to be found a year later untouched. Wondering when I will feel momentum. Wondering if that’s an illusion. Wondering if I will ever have answers to any questions. Because every year I think what happened? And I can’t remember the whole picture. I just see those fragments. A break in the page. I feel guilty for that. Convincing myself it’s okay, there was life lived. There were moments. And moments. And moments. Sometimes beautiful. Sometimes broken.

I still fill my time calling friends states and oceans away knowing the only thing I feel absolutely certain of in this world is that good friends keep us alive, I still eat a sandwich because I feel like it kills the patriarchy a little bit with every bite I take, and I still don’t wash my face a lot but I’m trying really hard to be better about it, I still Irish exit parties knowing I shouldn’t but knowing it’s harder to be brave sometimes so I take the easy way out literally, and I still like my alone time, I savor it like a fine wine and count down the moments until my solace, and I reunite hand in hand, I still forget certain people's birthdays and feel bad about forgetting birthdays, I still scroll Instagram and think how does everyone have everything figured out, and I sometimes feel alone on an island in the middle of nowhere. With a bleeding heart. Wondering if someone will find me in time before it stops.

I still don’t know.

And I know, I know.

I maybe never will.

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