It’s been a year now since I walked across that funny little stage in the Jenny Craig Pavillion at USD and received my diploma (holder), and it’s bewildering to acknowledge that so much, and yet so little, time has already passed.
Remembering everything that has happened in this past year makes me feel like one of those wandering kids in the "Family Circus" comic strip, where Billy or Jeffy or whatever their names are has made this extravagant, winding trail marked by a dotted line, when the destination was merely two steps away. I don’t feel like I’m very far, in my life, from where I was last May, though I am aware that I’m in a completely different room now, and maybe that’s all the difference that matters. Still, it took an awful lot of meandering and distractions and getting lost and such just to get here.
Family members have fluctuated with their health; my own has had its share of peaks and valleys. I got sick, and then sicker, and then a little bit better right before hitting some all-time lows, then vacillated between mildly bad and not too bad, and finally I’ve levelled out at a place I like to call "okay."
I started one career and flew through two jobs in its field, then stopped dead in my tracks and abandoned it all for a completely different path that is more satisfying to me than I could have ever imagined. I went to Gainesville, Fla. for a whole week, not really knowing anyone out there and just taking a wild chance that everything would work out (which it luckily did). I filed my own taxes for the first time in my life and am paying my own bills. I established utilities in my name and moved into a residence that is admittedly a bit much house for a small, procrastinating thing like me.
I got my navel pierced (twice) and my ears pierced (three times) as well. I bought new jewelry. I opened up to alcohol and learned that I STILL don’t like the way 90% of "anything" tastes. I turned 21. I bought curtains. I got a dog, I lost two dogs. And I’ve met an amazing number of amazing people, something I continue to do, something I hope I will always be able to do.
I broke up with a somewhat-long-standing boyfriend, came to terms with what I want, need, and deserve out of a relationship, and made notes of all the bad and negative habits previous relationships had instilled in me only to unsuccessfully fight to unlearn them. Went through four months of messy matters of the heart (and then some), got attached here and there, endured a lot of heartache, and then at last, at last, ended up with someone who has stuck by me for nearly 7 months now and who shows no signs of losing interest anytime soon. As a result, I’ve also learned to be nicer to myself and I’ve learned how to distinguish between true happiness and something that I call happiness only because I want so desperately for it to be true.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons, most of them the hard way, and I’m beginning to understand that maybe "the hard way" is the *only* way to learn such things.
Perhaps the most striking change in me, however, is the fact that I’ve finally "come into my own" as a vegetarian in that after 10 years of pastas and fruits and gummi bears, I’ve somehow, inexplicably learned to love all vegetables, from asparagus to zucchini.
From time to time, I do miss the way my life was a year ago– I miss San Diego all the time and I miss the great Mexican food that the border city had to offer. I miss my ocean and I miss 91X, and I really miss my two fantastic girlfriends of college days, both of whom are still in SoCal. I miss, sometimes, the insanity of running with the theatre crowd, and I miss all the time the abundance of theatre auditions that San Diego offered. I miss the Zoo and the Wild Animal Park, I miss the lights of Sea World over Mission Bay, I miss my frozen yogurt shops. I miss the beautiful scenery through which the freeways stretched and I miss the easy access to L.A.
But I wouldn’t take back this last year for the world three times over. And it’s crazy, but true. I like where I am, for all the struggling and madness it took to get here.
Happy Second Annual Commencement to me.