Monthly Archives: December 2016

The good and bad of 2016

Everyone is saying 2016 was a rough year. And I’m with them. But I’m not upset because of how many celebrities died.

My 2016 was a year of tears and goodbyes. But it was also a year of opportunity and challenges, and plenty of firsts.

Rough beginning

On January 6, I was forced to imagine a world without my mother. She fell down an outside ramp at work and shattered her elbow in 8-degree weather. For the first time, I was called as an emergency contact. Read more about that experience here.

We found out later that day she would survive, but still, we were forced to figure out what changes both the immediate and distant future would hold for her and our family.

babe-comforts-mom

Mom gets some TLC from our cat, Babe.

At first I had to help Mom with everything, from showering and cooking to taking care of the cat and doing laundry. For months I had to drive her everywhere, including her myriad doctors appointments.

That first week was difficult for me. And so were those first few months, but each day we began to adapt and accept what happened, and have since learned to live with her limitations.

Life will never be the same for my mom, as she can’t use her arm like she used to. And I’ll never be the same since her fall, as I learned what it means to take care of someone.

We must first experience the bad to see good grow out of it.

First pet

May 19, Babe, our family cat, died. We had gotten her when my brother and I were 3, our first pet. She lived a good, long 20 years. While death is inevitable, you are never prepared when it happens, even with notice. Read more about this experience here

babe-in-box

Babe, doing what she does best, sleeping in a shoebox.

I barely remember a life without her in it. And seven months later, I still expect to see Babe when I come home. It’s a painful reminder every time I remember she’s not here. But as much as I miss her, I’m glad she’s not suffering anymore.

One positive of no longer having a pet is that we can go on vacation without worrying about finding someone to feed her.

We must first experience the bad to see good grow out of it.

New opportunities

This summer, I decided to transfer locations at work, moving over an hour away. I’m living in my first apartment and figuring out a life on my own for the very first time. While I knew it wouldn’t be all smiles and tiaras, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be.

The loneliness, for one thing. Especially living now, in the digital age.

I eat all of my meals alone.

I spend my mornings alone, then get to work where, for the most part, I hunker down and plow through work independently, reading stories, crafting Facebook posts and occasionally messaging designers. There are few words I need to say to anyone face-to-face. I go home from work to an empty apartment, just to repeat the cycle the next day.

There are things I could do to interact with people — take up a hobby, join a club. But those things cost money (supplies, transportation) and I am a cheapskate.

This year, I said goodbye to familiarity and hello to opportunity and independence, and all of the challenges that accompany it.

And while there are times I wished I had someone to talk to, there are obvious advantages of living alone.

It’s quiet, so I’ve gotten quite a bit of reading done. I’m becoming better at cooking, and experimenting with new recipes. And I don’t have any sloppy roommates to share a bathroom with.

Sometimes, independence is worth the struggle.

We must first experience the bad to see good grow out of it.

One last goodbye

The final thing I’m saying goodbye to this year is my car. Just like Mom’s fall back in January, I didn’t see this coming.

I had a 2002 Subaru Outback. I knew it was a matter of time before something went wrong, but I was praying the car would make it through winter.

Then one Sunday, I saw white smoke coming from under the hood. Not good. I thought it might just be snow blowing around the parking lot, as we had our first taste of fresh powder the day before.

But I saw more smoke the next day. There was a new foul odor. Another day of smoke, this time more.

So I checked my oil. Full and clean. That’s when I noticed the coolant was completely empty. Uh-oh.

I took it to a mechanic but had to wait until after Christmas to find out the diagnosis. My research told me it wasn’t a quick fix.

The mechanic confirmed my hypothesis. A broken axle and a leaky head gasket, over three grand to fix on a car only worth two.

subaru

The first time I parallel parked my Subaru; August 2013, Burlington, Vermont. Photo credit: Nick Lemon.

I know these things happen to nearly 15-year-old cars. But my car only has 83,000 miles on it, and I feel it still has a lot of life to live.

Unfortunately, I can’t take that chance. So I’m shopping for another car.

At first, I was majorly bummed my car was out of commission. I felt like a burden asking so many people for rides.

And while this purchase will hurt financially, there are so many positives. Now I won’t have to worry about getting stranded on the side of the road. All of the newer cars have an auxiliary input, a compass and an electronic dashboard — features I couldn’t enjoy with my old car. And now I’ll have a reliable car to travel the country with.

We must first experience the bad to see good grow out of it.

Bring on 2017

While 2016 had its challenges, it was also a year of growth, of opening myself to new opportunities and learning to roll with the changes we simply have no control over.

It’s crazy to think I got through this year sober. I have never had a problem with alcohol and have never touched drugs, but to be a 23-year-old working in the journalism field, well, anyone would tell you I’m crazy.

But I did it.

I actually went to a bar for the first time this year. Two, actually. Both times were for work-related events. And neither time I chose to drink. That, my friends, is one big check mark.

Do I expect 2017 to be easier? No.

In the new year, I will continue to overcome obstacles and learn from life’s experiences. I will work through the tough days, even if only to look back on them and say I made it out alive.

In 2017, I will continue to experience the bad to see the good grow out of it.