A New Year’s Request

Dear 2011,

I have a request for you. It’s simple, really. I’m not going to ask you to help me lose 20 pounds, or be less insecure or anything like that (although both would be nice), I’m just going to ask you for one teeny-tiny thing. See, your buddies 2010 and 2009—or maybe they’re your enemies, I don’t know if you years get competitive with each other—have really put me through the wringer. I went from deliriously ecstatic to miserably broken, and I can’t take it anymore. So my request is this: Could you be like, you know, just an AVERAGE year?

…Please?

La Citta' Eterna

I think it’s pretty safe to say that 2009 was the best year of my life thusfar. I left for my semester abroad in Rome on January 3, 2009, and from the moment I stepped into Newark Airport that day, life as I knew it changed forever. For the next three and a half months I was so out-of-my-mind happy I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had no idea such levels of happiness were possible. Every single day was something new: a new cafe, a new class trip, a new monument, a new Italian verb tense, a new friend, a new family. For the first time in my life I actually cried tears of joy (any Romans reading this know I am talking about when we reached the top of the Duomo in Florence…after 473 steps!). Seriously, tears of joy. Sometimes I think I will (probably) never be as happy as I was in Rome, and/or I will (definitely) never feel the same kind of happiness I felt in Rome. When these thoughts occur, I have to calm myself down by repeatedly thinking ‘I will live in Rome again, someday. It will happen.’ It needs to happen, because Rome is forever in my heart and my heart is forever in Rome.

So naturally I wasn’t too pleased about having to leave Rome and come home. In fact I dreaded it, but in the grand scheme of things that feeling didn’t last too long. I was certainly excited to see my friends and of course Zoe, and then before I knew it I was back in Baltimore for the summer—the best summer of my life. Despite the fact that I still relied on my parents for most of my living expenses, I was thrilled to be on my own. I didn’t have to re-adapt to living at home AND in the States at the same time, which certainly made the transition easier, and I was even kind of like a grownup because I had a job and an internship, both downtown. But I still partied like a college student, and I was able to fall in love with Loyola and Baltimore in ways I could not while school was in session. The people I lived with/spent all my time with that summer were people I hadn’t been particularly close with or never expected to be friends with in the first place, yet we became a true family. Now I can’t imagine my life without them.

Then came senior year, which I had very high hopes for. As my roommates liked to point out to me quite often I had a fantastic class schedule and an easy workload, therefore I had lots of time to go out on nights of the week when one doesn’t normally go out. I struggled somewhat with balancing various groups of friends because, well, I didn’t have different groups of friends before senior year, but I did the best I could. I loved all the corny senior events, mostly because they involved costumes, and I loved not going to the same old bars as freshmen, sophomores and juniors. I also really loved my on-campus job; I’d never had a job during the school year before and it provided me with extra funds for all this costume buying and going out. All in all, senior year started out great.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that 2010 was the worst year of my life thusfar. I found out my dad was sick on February 20, 2010, and from the moment I stepped into the hospital that night, life as I knew it changed forever. I was an absolute wreck inside and I just could not bring myself to talk to anyone about it. I feel like I handled everything wrong, I was either too into school and partying thus not thinking about my dad enough or vice versa; there was never a happy medium—and I use the term ‘happy’ loosely here. Sometimes I really regret not telling more people what was going on with me, not asking for help and support when I needed it the most. On top of all that I was miserably missing Rome; every day was a “one-year-ago-today-I-was-_______” kind of day.

2010 was also the setting for the worst day of my life thusfar, which I have concluded was graduation day (with May 30, 2010—you should all know what that date is by now—coming in as a very close second, and January 8, 2007—the day of my mom’s brain surgery and my 19th birthday—a solid third. Summer 2010 was obviously horrendous, culminating with the death of another family member, and the fall, which is ordinarily my favorite season, wasn’t too peachy either. Of course there were some good moments in 2010 but that’s all they were: moments. Fleeting. I am still a complete mess, still drifting between intense pain, loneliness and anger with flickering glimmers of material happiness, still mourning the loss of the way things were supposed to be.

My point here, 2011, is that I cannot take anymore of these “bests” and “worsts.” The extremity of the last two years and my emotions during them have just about turned me inside out and killed me, which is why I beg of you, why I plead from the bottom of my heart that you are just an average year. Please be the year when I finally get into therapy, when I actually help my mom, when we get a puppy, when I go out with my friends more often, when I begin feeling just a smidge better. Nothing grandiose or life changing needs to occur—PLEASE no more life changing—and I know this pain will never truly go away, but I need a few small improvements. Baby steps, 2011, baby steps.

Sincerely,

Kate

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