2018 Reflection

I’m not going to lie. 2018 sucked ass. I can’t wait to bid it goodbye. But as difficult as it was, it was also incredible. I took a few trips, lost some friends, gained new ones, and discovered more and more about myself through each experience.

Without further ado, (and mostly for my own posterity) let’s take a look at the year in review, shall we?

I started 2018 with French Boy visiting for a week. He had basically broken my heart into a million pieces a few weeks before arriving but of course I let him stay over. It was still a fun week, it was his first time in the U.S. and I knew it was a dream come true for him, especially when I took him to New York City right after New Years, but I was also pretty sure I couldn’t keep up a friendship with him afterwards.

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I tried to, but to no avail and he was pretty disappointed. I wish I could have gotten past the hurt he caused especially because I know his intentions were never to cause me harm, but some things are harder to forget, and I am someone who all too easily forgives and forgets. One of the first lessons I learned this year was that I need to work on that, I need to demand what I want out of life and the people around me, and work on saying ‘no.’

We can’t hold on to everyone. Sometimes people drift apart naturally, other times you need to be assertive and distance yourself from those with whom you no longer connect. Whatever the reason, change can be for the best.

 

The next semester at UVM started on a high, I celebrated my 21st birthday in Burlington, VT with my friends and ended up going out with a really great guy until the end of the school year. I was accepted into the Spanish Honors Society at UVM, Sigma Delta Phi which was pretty cool.

I went to Paris for spring break with my best friend Gillian and had the best week ever. I think that week was probably the highlight of the year to be honest.

Meanwhile, the relationship I was in was short-lived. He was one of the sweetest people ever, but we were also very different. He is quiet and reserved, while I am talkative and open. Little did I know he was going through his own difficulties and he broke up with me at the start of May because it wasn’t fair that he couldn’t talk to me about it at the time. It took me a while to get over him. He was there for me when I needed it and sometimes I regret relying on him so much for support, though I wasn’t aware of what he was going through.

But the reason I needed that support is because at the end of that semester I was having some roommate trouble with a girl I had known for the past year and half with whom I had roomed with the year before without any problems. It was a really disturbing series of events because I had never experienced such a fallout with anyone before.

In addition to this, my other good friend Melissa was having trouble with her mental and physical health at the end of the year. She was my friend from home who transferred to UVM at my suggestion and was loving it until her epileptic seizures got in the way of her finishing her finals. She attempted suicide a few times and we talked about it a lot. As much as it is in my nature to be there for those who need it, especially my friends, sometimes that can drain me of all my energy. I’ve been told by many that I am an empath, or somebody who feels other people’s emotions, which as a result can be exhausting. So imagine all of these things going on at once: my shitty roommate situation, my struggling friend, a break up, and final exams all wrapped into one beautiful mess.

But then the year was over and summer came. I first went to DC to visit my friends Katie and Jonah, and that was really fun. It was a much needed break after a tough second semester. I also visited Gillian in Providence for an overnight where we celebrated Pride. Katie came to visit me in Boston as well, her first time in Beantown.

I was working in Boston all summer on Newbury St which was fun as well. I loved taking the bus and walking through Copley Square to the jewelry store where I worked, and my coworkers were amazing. It was brutally hot though, I would be sweaty just after the short walk from the bus stop to the store!

Towards the end of June I went to France with my mother initially for a family reunion in Annecy, a beautiful city with a giant lake in the Alps. It was incredible to discover so many more French cousins that I’m now in touch with. Annecy was magical, I definitely plan on going again to get a better look!

Oh, and I also lost my suitcase in Manchester UK on my way to France. That means I had only my purse and the clothes on my back for the entire week of the family reunion. It was really frustrating because I usually pack lightly, I only travel with one suitcase and I never check it, but this time I had to because it was a tad too heavy. As I handed the suitcase to the attendant at the check-in desk I felt it in my gut that it would get lost. I just knew. After emailing and calling every company and airline help line associated with my trip every single day, and after ugly-crying and getting frustrated with my mom who was only trying to help, the suitcase finally arrived literally an hour before my train back for Paris. See, after the reunion my mother was going to stay with her parents in Vichy while I went back up to Paris for a few weeks to hang out with friends. I knew there was no way I could be without my suitcase in Paris. But the universe somehow had my back that day and my suitcase arrived at such a perfect moment it didn’t feel like real life.

Paris was wonderful as usual, I saw most of the friends I had seen in March with Gillian, I even saw my cousin from the reunion who was there for a concert one weekend, and a friend from UVM who was studying in Paris over the summer too. I hung out with Rosie, Thomas and Alban most of the time, since Rosie fulfilled her dream of permanently moving from Michigan to Paris and join her Parisian boyfriend, Thomas. The four of us did a really cool scavenger hunt at the Opera, Rosie and I got bubble tea more than once, Alban and I explored the Parc Montsouris, and we watched the Bastille Day fireworks from a rooftop. I got to see Angèle and Voyou perform for free at an outdoor concert by Hotel de Ville, I made new friends in the catacombs, and I celebrated the French victory during the World Cup.

Unfortunately, after that wonderful trip, my summer took a turn for the worst.

August 11th. It was a Saturday. I got a text from Melissa, “Hey are you doing anything today?” I hadn’t seen her since Katie had visited in June. We had all gone out to a club and after having a few sips of beer she had a really bad seizure and I had to call 911. I was upset because this was the second time she and I had gone out to a bar where we landed in an ambulance. I was frustrated because of course as a friend it is my duty to make sure my friends are safe, but with her epilepsy sometimes it felt like a ticking time bomb. It wasn’t her fault, it never was. But I needed a break from the responsibility and just took it for granted that I’d see Melissa at school so I didn’t really reach out after France. Plus, we had hung out a few times over the summer anyway. I responded to her text, “yeah I’m busy sorry.” I went to Castle Island with my mom, as we got back to the car it was pouring rain. Some hours later Melissa was dead.

Two days would go by before I found out my friend had taken her own life.

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I’m not going to go into the details about how I immediately blamed myself, and still do. Or how I found out via Facebook and to this day don’t know the full details of her death. Or how often I play back in my head our last interaction. Or how I beat myself up for not reaching out sooner. For being so oblivious even though I knew she had been struggling. Or how, two days after finding out the news, I shoveled dirt onto her grave and was subsequently haunted by the sound of the dirt and pebbles hitting the wood. Or how at her memorial service I had to see a bunch of people from high school I wasn’t quite prepared to see. Or how today I lie in bed unable to sleep, thinking of what I should have said. What I should have done.

Because wait! There’s more!

Two days after that my last surviving American grand-parent, my grand-mother June, died too. She had gone to the hospital a few weeks prior for complications due to her pancreatic cancer. Little did she know she would never return home. The family dynamic on my dad’s side crashed and burned. So yeah, the last two weeks of the summer sucked. In a twisted way, I felt like all of the good stuff from the summer had been negated by this. I had almost forgotten I had even been to Annecy, or that I had gone to DC. Once I realized this I hated myself for being so selfish, for ignoring how fortunate I was to have had such an incredible summer filled with trips not many people can take.

But that’s how it felt. My summer had been almost erased due to my overwhelming grief.

However I choose to see the good in this, as hard as it is to find. I look back on all the time I spent with Melissa, and with my grandma. I know I was a good friend, and grand-daughter. I can’t go back in time, it is what it is. If anything, as cliché as it is, you absolutely cannot take anyone for granted. It can be difficult, because one doesn’t expect someone to just disappear one day and no longer exist. I’m still struggling, a lot. But that’s life.

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Obviously, going back to UVM in the fall was a well-needed fresh start. Reeling from two deaths in the same week, I was prescribed medication for my recurring anxiety and started seeing a therapist which helped me do a lot of positive soul searching. I was in an apartment off-campus living with two lovely girls, I had a room all to myself, a kitchen where I cooked my own delicious food, and felt truly autonomous. My classes were great, all of them engaging and taught by incredible professors. My friends all lived close by, some were turning 21 too so we could go out downtown, and while it was still warm out we would go apple picking, swimming at the beach, and rock climbing. The semester overall went really well. I’m in the middle of finals week now anticipating when I move out and go back home. Oh, and did I mention I’m studying abroad in Madrid for the Spring semester?

I also saw a lot of cats. Here are a few memorable feline encounters:

So despite the partial dumpster fire that was 2018, things are looking up. I have a month and a half before Madrid where I’ll be chilling at home with my family, celebrating the holidays in France (wow third time this year!) and then working in Boston for a bit before my departure. With the new year comes another fresh start. I’ve never been to Madrid. I’m excited to explore a new city, to get to know its secrets, to make new friends and new memories. Here’s to not taking people for granted. Here’s to not beating myself up for having emotions. Here’s to the days where you think wow, my life is a fucking joke! only for tomorrow to be better. Here’s to living to make myself happy, and not only to make others happy. Here’s to putting myself first. Here’s to 2019.

Here’s to today, because today is a gift, as Melissa once said.

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