A good year.
Started off spending five months with the guy I love, skiing and hiking and working a nine-to-five schedule with weekends off, and biking to work. In early June, my best friends and my little brother biked from Pittsburgh to DC, a rag-tag disorganized group of jokesters, becoming Mud People as the rain and mud slime covered us from head to toe and found its way into every crevice of our bicycles. In late June, I flew to Miami, a city I’d never been to, and heard Spanish on every street corner and ate ropa viejo in a community of writers of color, who fed a part of myself that I didn’t know could exist. I started Writing, calling myself a writer, and crying so many complicated happy torn confused love-filled tears.
And then I Left New York and moved to Alaska. For the first time in my life, I lived off the East Coast and lived alone. I hiked alone. I biked alone. I let myself accept my queerness, in my own complicated messy can’t fit in the box way, to tell my friends and partner I been queer and y’all have known it but let me tell you I’m queer and say those words out loud, and to acknowledge the people I feel most full by and with. And in all that, even in Alaska, I made friends, without the fall back comfort of all the people who have known me for so long and are sarcastic and jaded and ball busting and rude, I made friends and found that I am a person who is capable of making friends. So that was interesting.
And then. And then! My mom flew to Alaska to help me drive to California. We wound around and through mountain ranges, crossing parts of North America she never dreamed of seeing. I moved back to the Lower 48, into an apartment with those sarcastic jaded loving friends who can’t take me seriously and who keep my ego in check, to a city that surprises me with the soft pink glow and radiant orange bursts of sunset, that challenges me with all the goddam steep hills, that inspires me with parks and mountains and redwoods only a bike ride away, that hides its prettiest parts in areas filled with tourists, pretending there’s nothing to see here if you’re staying. Oh, and In ‘N’ Out after a day of hiking or biking is one of my favorite feelings on Earth.
And then there was that time I flew to Hawai’i to run a marathon and ended up climbing mountains and laying on beaches and drinking ice cold coconut and letting the tender young flesh melt on my mouth, and watching the sunset from the most north-western point on Oahu, and spent time with a friend who lives a continent apart but who has consistently supported my dreams and whims since the day we met each other.
A good year.
A filled year.
There has to be away to move forward, into this next year. I usually have lists and lists of what I want my life to look like the following year, but for the last twelve months, my life consistently moved closer to what I want my life to look like, so I’m not too worried about pushing myself further anymore. Maybe it’s time for a step back, a call to relax, to chill, to absorb the moments that have been so full and magical.
On that note, I thought of two ways to help myself absorb the magic that is living:
Eliminate the phrase, “I want”
To recall this past year’s resolution, here is the list of books I read when intentionally consuming no-white-dude-media this year. I hope this gives you some ideas for great books to read!
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
- Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- A Song Flung Up to Heaven by Maya Angelou
- Nobody Knows My Name– by James Baldwin
- Bossypants by Tina Fey
- Tracks by Robyn Davidson
- Torch by Cheryl Strayed
- A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
- Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
- Vintage Baldwin (a collection) by James Baldwin
- The Vine of Desire by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
- The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
- Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (on audiobook)
- Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman (on audiobook)
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (on audiobook)
- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (on audiobook)
- Pym by Mat Johnson
- An Indigenous People’s History of the US by Roxane Dunbar Ortiz
- Fresh off the Boat by Eddie Huang (on audiobook)
- The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid
- South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami
- Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- White Teeth by Zadie Smith
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skoots (on audiobook)
- Yes, Please by Amy Poehler (on audiobook)
- The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
- The Between by Tananarive Due
- Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- The Art of Silence by Pico Iyer
- Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie