Last night, shortly after I returned from an impromptu surprise visit with my grandmother, I was packing up to head north and spend New Years with my best friend and her fiancee. They had bought me the plane ticket as a Christmas present, and — after the year that I have had — I couldn’t think of a more perfect pair to ring in fresh new year with.
I spent four days reminiscing with my grandma, talking about how she met my grandpa — who passed away suddenly a little over two years ago — the years that they spent ‘courting’, her earliest memories of their hide-and-go-seek games, town socials they attended and eventually the moment that he proposed in front of the old stone house (without having purchased a ring, until he was certain she would say yes!). Spending time in the small town, within which I spent so many summers’ of my youth, always reminds me of how simple the most important things in life really are. Family. Love. Community. Nobody puts glamour before goodness, or things above thanks. I felt truly at peasce, truly relaxed and able to enjoy the simplicity in each special moment.
Now, as I sit on my best friend’s couch, waiting for her to nap off her night shift as a nurse in the local ER, I am looking through old photos and being reminded of how incredibly lucky I am to have had so many years of unforgettable moments with her. She and her fiancee are an amazing example of love and friendship. Always laughing, always sharing, always exploring.
The holidays brought on plenty of excuses to fall into a ‘woe is me’ pity-party. Feeling sad about everything that had happened through the year; feeling lonely and regretting that I would be spending my first Christmas in eight years without a partner. My ex and I have remained close friends and, despite a few rough patches through the separation process, have been best friends for the better part of a decade. I realized over the holidays just how challenging this is, and perhaps why most don’t allow it. He had decided to go to Mexico, with a woman he was seeing, to celebrate Christmas. He didn’t even hint of it to me, and therefore I was left assuming I would see him or hear from him at some point during the holiday weekend. I didn’t. My first thought: he’s dead. So there I was, left wondering how — after eight shared Christmases — I had not yet heard from my ‘best friend’. He didn’t want to tell me; he didn’t know ‘how he felt about spending Christmas with someone else’ or ‘how he felt about travelling with someone else’ after only having travelled with me. When we finally spoke after Christmas, he admitted that he just couldn’t hear me say ‘have an amazing time in Mexico (with her, over Christmas)’, and mean it.
So as I stumbled into my dark, “I don’t even have anyone to take me to the airport” attitude, that can accompany a lonely holiday season, I remembered: I am en route to spend a beautiful New Years with the most important friend I have, and have just come home from four fantastic days in my favorite town with my extraordinary family. I am stepping into a fresh year, with comletely fresh possibilities, goals and experiences coming my way.
Growth is messy. Learning can be lonley. Starting fresh… it isn’t always easy, but remembering that the simplest things — love and friendship — are ever-present. You just have to remember to look for them.