Taking a Look

Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Correspondence

Dear 2011,

As I'm sitting here, waiting for the clock to tick down the last 34-ish hours of your life, I'm really only wondering two things: 1) What the hell, man? and 2) How well do you know 2012?

You're a fickle beast 2011, and you were entirely unpredictable for all the time that I knew you, so I'll give you props for keeping me on my toes. I know everyone sees a different side to you, but I think I saw you for what you really were: indecisive.

I think that you got a bad impression of me before we even met, and I'll attribute that to 2010. We ended on a pretty rocky note last Christmas what with the break-up with my ex-boyfreind and all. Tis the season to be brokenhearted and unwilling to get out of bed, indeed. You must have gotten all the details about that, because when you rolled around, everything just got worse.

January was a dark, dank, depressing. And I use depressing in the literal sense. Because, as you know, this was when I started getting pulled down that slippery slope into full-blown major depressive disorder. Ouchies. But at least by the end of the month you sent the ex away to study abroad again, albeit he left behind a suitcase of lies. But he found replacements while he was away.

I really wish you had taken the time to have gotten to know me in February, because then maybe, just maybe, we could have avoided the whole indoor graffiti incident. Oh, I'm sorry, incidents. Gotta love that plurality. Needless to say, that was a real kick in the nads. And stomach. And head. And heart. But if that wasn't enough, you took my friends. My closest friends up at school. Okay, I'll concede, you didn't really do anything personally to them. Probably because you were focusing all your angst on me, and then they decided they couldn't be around me. You've clearly never been lonely. And I'm talking truly, deep down, in the pit of your very existence, lonely. Because you would never wish that on someone if you had a decent bone in your body.

Little did I know, however, that you were just getting started. Because March was a doozy. The lies unraveled, the depression got worse, the therapist didn't know what the hell to do with me, and my nightmares increased to two-per-night. Assuming I even managed to sleep. A lot of times I couldn't because I would spend my evenings running down the bathroom so that I could stress vomit somewhere other than my garbage can. Eventually I didn't want to do that though, because I started getting paranoid that I was being watched. I mean, clearly this person knew where I lived right? And they had gone to great lengths (twice) to frighten me there. Can you blame me for the fear? Maybe. But can you blame the depression and the loneliness and the ensuing feelings of self-pity and self-hate that resulted thereof? Maybe not. Of course, with a  concoction like that, all you can really brew is suicidal thoughts. I know, I know, completely illogical way to respond to everything, right? I had a lot of love and support going my way, but the funny thing with depression is, all that stuff gets blocked out when your mind gets taken over by something other than your own consciousness. You can't hear the cheers, just the jeers. 

Were you proud when I decided to take those pills? When I downed, I don't know, what was it? Eight, nine, ten of them? Or was that you? The strange, separate voice in my  head that told me to stop? Well, who knows. But I did. Threw them all up and decided there was another way out. Which I then took immediately. Bye bye school! I'll catch ya later.

You know what, I'm being selfish. Maybe things were going on with you that I just wasn't aware of. Depression can do that to you. Make you think that you're the only person with problems. The only one struggling to get by. And I know that's not true. I generally like to think of myself as a good person. Selfless when I can be. So I'm sorry if you were going through some things too and I couldn't be there for you. Believe me, I wanted to. But you have to understand, I couldn't. Physically couldn't.

Maybe you took pity, or maybe you were working things out for yourself, but you allowed April to get a little bit better. Though not a lot, I have to be honest. The days I spent wishing I could stop crying, and the nights I agonized over whether or not I should sleep for fear of the dreams, were pretty numerous. And you didn't let up on the loneliness. But the reinforcements were coming, and all-in-all I had started to see that I made the right choice amidst all the crap the month before.

And then May, when I think that I finally won you over, at least for a time. Perhaps you're just more agreeable in the sun and springtime. Who isn't? Was I still depressed? Absolutely. Was I finding reasons to keep going? Here and there. My friends certainly helped. Oh, no, not the ones from up at school. No, see, they were done with me. But my other friends had stepped up in their absence. I'm sorry, look at me digressing like this. Where was I? Oh right, June.

Could June have been a better start to my recovery? I think not. So applause to you, my friend, and eternal thanks. I got to experience my first ever surprise party (though I deduced the surprise beforehand), tanned it up in the Bahamas, and then left North America spitting in sea foam as I sailed towards the Mediterranean. And that's when you really pampered me. Not a drop of rain for the next 66 days. Just a summer of tapas in Barcelona, gelato in Naples, poetry in Rome, kissing in Croatia, Bulgarian beaches, Turkish baths, and camel rides through the Moroccan desert. 

I will always be infinitely grateful for every last second of those sixty-six days, on and off ship, as well as the incredible people I met, the time I spent with them, and all of the places we saw together. I know that I am lucky to have experienced such an adventure, and I'll never forget my own fortune in that respect, but I do like to think that I deserved it all. 

So then bam! It's back to school in September. A decision that surprised many, including myself. But I was on a high. It seemed that Mount Vesuvius, hungover kayaking trips, and sexy ship boys had alleviated my depression for the time being. What a relief. So I marched back up north, as you know, and tried to make it all work. But, alas, other than my enjoyable 21st birthday weekend, not much worked. Not only was I getting anywhere in my major, but I realized that hey, there ISN'T anywhere to go in this major. It's a waste of time. Which I seemed to a lot of my friends now that my ex and I were studying on the same campus. Be glad, 2011, that no one can ever use you as a stand-in friend. It's not a good feeling.

Neither is being told that, for the third time, someone has gone out of their way to make sure you know exactly what they think of you. I get it, I get it, you're not O.K. with the whole gay thing. But you'll have to take it up with my DNA. Because that's me, and I have nothing to apologize for.

Well, I had clearly pissed you off again, because everything started falling apart once more. He wanted me gone, no one seemed to want me around, and all of the support (though appreciated, this I swear) was too little, too late. Bye bye again!

Of course, this time being home wasn't as awful. Oh, don't get me wrong, it was still pretty shitty. The nightmares, which had never really let up, even in the summer, came screaming back. With a vengeance. And I felt that cold sting of loneliness again. Old news huh? Yeah I guess you're right. But it's hard when you have to admit that the world you loved and the place you called home ended up failing. Were my expectations too high? Was I in the wrong place to begin with? Had I done something to anger you again? Did I have too much fun on my voyage? Was that it? Was I too happy? Gotta be careful about that happiness. It'll bite ya in the end.

It's a good thing November rolled around, because that helped prevent the depression from taking over as strongly as it did when we first met. I think you know, as I was pretty vocal about it, but if you forgot, I wrote a novel. I completed 50,000+ words in 29 days, the most I've ever written in that amount of time. And you know what? It really helped. If only to keep me busy. But that's how you fight depression, or at least that's one way. Stay busy. And visit family. They're good medicine. Especially mine. Because even if they live in Stupid Ohio, they know exactly what to do and where to go to make you think that you're living it up in LA. So that's what I learned: stay busy and put yourself around family. Oh, and start therapy. Managed to do that by Thanksgiving too. And didn't that take forever? I'd like to think you weren't involved in that, but maybe you were still harboring some sort of grudge.

If you were, I didn't notice. Because I kept writing through December. Which made it a MUCH better time than when 2010 was around. I ended up with a 97,000 word novel on my hands, ready and waiting for the rewrite/editing process and eventual publication. Yeah I didn't end up with a holiday job, and yes, I was too late to make admission for a new school in the spring term, but I don't think I wasted my time. I think there was no better way I could have spent the end of our time together actually.

You did let up for the holidays, though, and I tip my new fedora to you for that. Christmas was exponentially more enjoyable than it was last year.

And now our time together has come to an end. And I have to know, have you left me any indication of what things will be like with 2012? You were so back and forth with me I have no idea what to expect next. Is 2012 as prickly as you are? Laidback? A firecracker? A fan of surprises? Or pretty predictable? Hopefully not too stressed out, though there is that whole end of the world thing he has on his shoulders. 

I guess these are all pointless questions to ask. There's no reason you should know anything at all about 2012, or exert any influence, is there? You're over. Finished. Done with. Sure, you'll go out with a bang, but everyone always does. It's nothing all that special anymore. 

And I've just got to say, though I thank for those amazing, sunny months in the middle, you can take all the crap and the disappointment and the heartache that bookended that time and get the hell out of here. I am not sad to see you go. Or better yet, let me turn my back on you and ride off to greener pastures. And I'll leave you to finish whatever it is you need to in these final hours. Don't expect a visit. I'll just be taking my experiences, a few good memories, and the lessons that I learned and be on my way. 

I have a date with 2012.