Have you ever gone to the drive thru window expecting chicken but ended up with four cheeseburgers, a large fry,
two shakes, a coke and two apple pies?
But, that is in a nutshell what 32 felt like, except they dumped five opened sauces in the bottom of the bag without a single napkin.
I have been cleaning up some major messes, met Clyde on Valentine’s Day, left waiting tables to go to the Circus, one car died in the parking lot of work but was rescued, pushed, a collection taken to have it fixed for me.
I sobbed my eyes out that day.
Before it was returned to me, the car I borrowed began to smoke and I thought it might blow up, and I cried pretty hard that day too.
I was on the side of the road off 285, sobbing and texting perfect strangers, two photography girls I had to ask to take me to class, two cars destroyed, but a lighting demo in front of me. They picked me up and I put my head between my legs, ashamed, tired, aching for longing for my babies, terrified of Tungsten lights, ready to be critiqued for images I hated.
I showed up with a borrowed camera and a laptop that failed me, putting me in Kevin’s studio with a girl I thought hated me.
Divorcee predicted I would win her over.
I never doubt that, but with this one, I was sure.
Not only did she like me, but she hired me, so I quit waiting tables which led me to the day to rent a tripod only to meet a man.
That freakin tripod. It attracted men like flies so I bought my own, from him actually, The Collector, to go on and discover that my photography was definitely improving, but more than that, I knew I had started the school with fifteen bucks, no gas, a borrowed tripod and camera. I ended the quarter with a job, a personality disorder, a fat lens, a new Macbook, a BFF, a passion I had ignite me for the love of the craft and this school.
Nothing was going to compare to first quarter. We were certain.
Whenever you believe that, watch out. First week of 2nd quarter my car had an expired tag, so we had a run in with the law, two outlaws ensuring we had to start Kevin’s class completely over because a little thing like jail kept us from turning in our burned DVD‘s.
I look back on 32 like a wart that is being removed.
I don’t know who that person was, in her apron, chatting all the time with best girl friends about life, dreaming of maybe one day going
back to school, maybe for photography.
I had no freakin clue I was putting my hand in a blender, with teachers who meant business, a work load literally impossible to handle and sleep as well, not to mention I became very familiar with hate mail, all my best friends furious I had abandoned them.
My mom worried until I thought she might be sick, my keys falling through 15 foot drains, my breath held while I wondered if anyone would notice the way my stomach growled but I said “No thanks” to the waitress, asking me if I were ready to order.
Kat and Lola needed Halloween outfits.
I see that all these events were perfect in their imperfection, driving me to a place I didn’t know could even be possible to go, the black hole of fear like a vacuum, swallowing me hole, taking me down in short suffocating breaths.
But I found something.
I found me.
I have become something I don’t know how to describe, a strength I did not know exists, a passenger to life no more, I put my ass behind the wheel, decided crash or burn, I was driving.
It has resulted in an unbelievable partnership with Thelma, a deep sobbing goodbye cry with Divorcee, both of us aware our time here is ticking, tick tock tick tock.
The hourglass is turned and we see the end in the horizon, my connections ridiculous in proportion to what I ever imagined, my life a testament to what it means to burn to the ground, face my haters, be pulled in and out again by my supporters, all the while, knowing if I could just get through this day, the next would come, and one baby step later, I am here.
I have had to say goodbye so many times in my life for all sorts of reasons, but this is bittersweet. I am saying goodbye to the woman I was, the woman I thought I deserved to be, poor and broken, terrified of failure and love.
My dreams have been handed to me, a note attached asking, “Do you deserve them?”
The answer is yes.
Endings come with beginnings, fear vanishes with love, and beauty is only skin deep, but I no longer apologize or question my abilities, the power inside of me swelling like a hot air balloon.
It has been a lonely terrifying incredibly beautiful year, but I wonder who I would be without it, the losses gave me the strength of resolve, the people who have surrounded me have brought me to my knees. I have been humbled, loved, supported, forgiven.
Goodbye 32. Thank you. Thank you for reminding me what it is to be truly alive, lit with fire from within, powerful and weak, confrontational and hiding, looking for monsters in my closest, hoping for one more day to see hope.
I will never forget you nor will I miss you.
It is time to bring in 33, a new year full of new adventures to be had, lessons to be learned, a constant reminder that indeed,
“Normal is a Setting on the Dryer.”