I could barely hold it together. I was dabbing tears from my windswept cheeks with the wrists of my shirtsleeves on a rush hour train.
I was drafting my briefing to my best friends about how last night had gone on the subway to work. Writing this line snapped me back to a painful reality:
“I’m a ship adrift at sea. I can’t see ahead, and last night I saw the lighthouse I departed from months ago.”
It was early December, and I had just seen a ghost of 2016. What had I become since then?
Four years ago, my mentor gave me a piece of advice as we were sitting in a news truck below the Brooklyn Bridge: “Don’t worry. One day you’ll hit your stride. You’ll wake up and realize you’re surrounded by your tribe. You’ll be doing what you love, and you’ll know exactly where you want to go.”
I’ve disowned the idea many times over the years… but I’ve also realized 2017 brought me many of those mornings.Waking up in Animal Kingdom, Boston, New Orleans, Edinburgh, Dublin, DC… Pennsylvania, when breakfast was already set out by the pool and a nun was in the kitchen. New Jersey, with Emily’s dog sneaking in my purple guest bedroom. Getting my makeup done with my mom before the Emmys. Brunch with my best friends ahead of six hours of dancing on the Macy’s Pride Parade float. Sunlight gently shaking me from sleep in a tent near Freeport, Maine — in more ways than one, turning a new leaf. Lazy mornings, cooking to Ramsey Lewis and Thelonius Monk. Laying in bed still tasting sweet rosé and warm Brooklyn air.
For me, it was a year defined by women. Self-love. Self-care. About making friends, loving friends, loving myself. Closing my eyes and taking in the moments I was able to bask in the sun. Believing with every fiber of my being that I was beautiful, intelligent, capable, on a path to greatness. Separating myself from my partner. Losing my partner, falling in love again. Exploring extroversion. Exploring music and food and fashion. Absolute satisfaction surrounded by my family, nuclear and extended… and such good food. It was a year of feistiness and bravery and glowing, sweet, warm, love — radiating out of me just like Arthur described that night we were parked beneath the Brooklyn Bridge.
There were also mornings where I realized I hadn’t slept at all, staring at the shadows across my ceiling cars make as they noisily drive past my window. Wondering in the wee hours if I derailed my life by choosing isolation over navigating labyrinthine relationships. Mornings where I hoped a strong coffee would help me forgive or help probe the definition of “infidelity” or “loyalty” or “forever.” As much as I found my strength, I also found dusty corners where I was selfish and weak.
I’ve been lectured to so much about what it’s like to be in your 20s, and my 22nd year has probably proved all the lessons true. Today, I’m filled with gratitude — for both my best and darkest days.