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Two Thousand Nine Ends

January 1, 2010
“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” – Zora Neale Hurston

Two Thousand Nine answered questions I didn’t know I had.

I bundled up, shoveled out, nestled in, and buckled down. Brushed aside socratic method anxiety with skill and counted days until a question followed by a glance towards a seating chart no longer tormented my heart rate. Sunny afternoons spent with thick law books, a growing kitten, and a second cup of coffee became as common as sentimental moments spent in my third floor carrel.

The third floor carrel advice, comfort, encouragement, raised eyebrows and unintentional laughter dissolved entirely in two thousand nine. An expected and unexpected departure rolled into one, I spent fall semester walking with a ghost and conversing with memories for advice, comfort, and encouragement. In two thousand nine the ghost disappeared, the memories faded, and I learned how to navigate law school halls and life without my third floor compass. Life without the presence and ghost of my third floor compass – an unknown question with a gentler answer than I ever expected.

In April, I traveled on an overnight train to Chicago with two sixteen year olds that have taught me more over the years than I have ever taught them. I saved, planned, scheduled, arranged, directed, packed, drove, sang, fed, situated, seated, re-arranged, worried, informed, soothed, listened, and laughed. I expected thirteen year olds. I spent the most time with them when they were thirteen year olds. I find it easy to love, adore, treasure thirteen year olds. On this trip I had sixteen year olds. I had a sixteen almost seventeen year old that has held my hand over the years during her journeys through despair and triumph. I had this sixteen year old in the middle of her current despair and triumph, holding my hand and pushing me away at the same time. Melting down in the manner only sixteen year olds can achieve with intentions of dragging us all to her dark depths. I knew to hold on to her hand tightly until we both got to safe shores.

She let go of my hand in July. I had no choice other than to release my grasp and unhook my fingers from hers. Swimming in murky waters rather than her dark depths, she let go, and I had the only choice of waiting for her to surface. She surfaces, usually with alarming news, tangled situations, concerning events, risky behavior, and negative consequences. I wait for her to surface, gather her in my arms when she does, and let her go back to the murky waters at her request. Simultaneous unconditional love and letting go — the timing and mechanics of this process arrived as answers this year, unexpectedly and alone.

I spent the summer hours, days, weeks, months digesting old and new rules, processes, and applications. I spent hours, days, weeks, months, craving creativity, chaos, and breathing space. I put everything aside to achieve a goal I never cared to reach. I failed. I panicked. I tried to overcompensate my professional failure with domestic success. I spent time on my grocery lists, cooked, baked, cleaned, decorated and dated. I did not have domestic success. I realized I will never have domestic success. I realized I do not want domestic success. I still craved creativity, chaos, and breathing space. Someone obliviously called me out on my confused lifestyle.

I stopped. I listened to the unintended message. I re-evaluated. Then, I wrote more often. I picked up my camera more often. I found breathing space on vacant beaches and in crowded train stations. I found a place for creativity in my daily life. I embraced structured chaos. And then, unexpectedly, I wanted to achieve that goal. The one I failed to reach. This time, on my own terms, in my own timeframe, without the sacrifice of creativity, chaos, and breathing space. The vital need for balance — this answer arrived unexpectedly this year. I have the unanswered question of how to fail gracefully, because I stumbled, flailed, and relied on the steady support of the wonderful people in my life to help me process my failure. But the need for balance skidded into my life in two thousand nine to answer a question I didn’t know I had.

I had other answers unaccompanied by questions this year. Fun, silly ones, like, don’t eat handfuls of pumpkin seeds when your wisdom teeth are “erupting,” or, pull over when driving on a narrow road in Canada in the pouring rain. I had some answers come as a result of questions, like: I need to move in May to achieve the life I want, or, I can concentrate less on my graduate degree now that I have my law degree. I found some answers that I can’t write about in a manner I feel comfortable sharing here. I had many, many questions arise that never found answers. But overall, this year provided many answers, and the answers came prior to the questions.

Two thousand nine was a year that answered.

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