Updated: Jan 2, 2021
1. The first time I walked from my sublet in Capitol Hill down Denny Way, right past my intended destination of 24 Hour Fitness. This was a new city, and I was lost. Staring down those skyscrapers that have always (and will always) perturb me, I felt the swell: My first day in a new place. My new home, for now.
2. Valentines Day, when I decorated that sublet with cheap Target romance. I bought a standard card deck and wrote down 52 things I love about Aubrey. I could actually do it; that part wasn't so cheap.
3. When we rushed past the glass windows at Paws, eager to claim our wild-eyed orange kitty. Watching him dance the perimeter of the shelter and prance across Aubrey's lap, a rare bid for connection that would also be his last.
4. The way I laid aside my fears for just long enough to sign my first lease with a partner, in my first relationship with a woman. The way this decision ushered in a fleet of hard conversations that had been patiently and confidently waiting for me for 27 years, like a kitty who knows his importance.
5. That surprising slipping away of body obsession. The gyms closed, and I slowly abandoned my ex-boyfriends' workout plans. What counts as "exercise" now changes as naturally and frequently as I change my mind.
6. The creeping in of the dry drunk, a tension that came with too few meetings and conversations yet to have. Maybe you're meant to be alone, says the dry drunk. With commitment comes limitations, failures. Maybe the antidote is isolation.
7. The way those feelings lifted like the clouds over Mt. Rainier when I returned to what works, what always works, and in so doing returned to myself. Meetings. Therapy. Every type of sobriety.
8. When I dug out my study books and queued up Excel, determined to ace the application process that would earn me a place in graduate school. Graduate school, I imagined, the place I could finally be the person I already am. The surrender and serenity in packing it all up, completely unfinished, and sending something imperfect but true to just one place.
9. The fact that I said "yes" whenever my brother or dad asked, "Want to pick a tune?" The fact that I said "yes," even when that meant on stage, or over Zoom. The fact that playing music has remained beautiful, imperfect, even apologetic, like it's my first time every time.
10. The warmth of saying "yes," again and again, nearly every time Aubrey asked if I would go on a walk, go to that new Pie Shop, accompany her to the coffee shop, bring the kitties along in their stroller. The fact that there are two of them, not one, because of another "yes" I eked out. The way the kitties look out the windows in wonder and longing, like it's their first day in a new place.