It’s hard to believe it’s that time again: time to wrap up the old year (2006 seems yet so new!) and welcome in the new. No! Do I have no choice? Can I stop it? Can I … keep writing 2006 on my checks?
I don’t know if this is the first time, but it seems like the year’s only begun. 2006 seems so new, still, still with a shine and a gleam. I guess, watching the JibJab 2006 Year In Review, a lot happened this year. It just … doesn’t seem like it.
I guess this feeling of newness comes from multiple fronts. The first is that, academically, the year didn’t start until a scant four months ago, in September, having taken the spring semester off. So yeah. I think I wrote my last year-in-review in Bangkok, while packing my bags for Bangalore. Now I write at home, in my room, in Cheyenne, WY. Worlds apart.
Well, how about it, then?
I wish I could say the year’s been good. But that would require a sense of closure I’m completely lacking. I’ll be drug into 2007, dragging, clawing… but not screaming. That would just be hyperbole. But I’m really not over for 2006 to be over. It just started to get good, really.
And, oddly, I’m filled with apprehension about 2007. If 2006 is just starting to get good, shouldn’t that bode well for 2007? Should I be filled with hope for the new year? Au contraire, there’s just an almost palpable sense of foreboding about the New Year. This year is lacking closure, finality. I don’t know why.
Well, let’s see. I started someplace in southern India–Kerala, I think–this time last year. I’d pull out my journal and check– see what my thoughts, feeling, resolutions, etc were, but I lost my journal: it disappeared while packing up my grandmother in Duluth in June. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Across January and February, I spent six weeks volunteering for Parikrma in Bangalore (now Bengaluru, since November). Though an entirely worthwhile organization, I came away from it feeling somewhat disenchanted. Six weeks was hardly enough time to settle down– not nearly enough time to actually accomplish something. So I feel I took away much more from Parikrma than I contributed, though they gave me such a warm send-off. And perhaps there’s a small sense of guilt because, alas, I’ve not kept up my contacts in India– the friends I met, the children (child) I worked with on a daily basis. I’m bad at correspondence, I guess.
No, it’s more than that. This year has been the first year completely under the moral policy of “I do what I want to do.” It’s a fine line– between being a jerk and being the nice guy, who does things for others, to make others happy, even if it means inconveniencing one’s self. That was me, for however many years. That’s what I was raised to be: kind, considerate. But then, one day, I realized that enough was enough. That nice guys finish last. That’s not where I’m going to finish. And from that moment, with one exception, I’ve done exactly (and only) what I’ve wanted to do– done nothing, save one, out of a sense of obligated. It’s been “f-ya’ll” to everyone not me. And yeah– I feel like a jerk. Like a prick, to be honest, if vulgar. But, to be again honest, I like it more than being “the nice guy.”
There’s guilt, of course, involved with seeing the opportunity to help someone else, to do something kind for someone else, to make someone else’s day (at the expense of my own), and then consciously choosing not to do it. Not even making excuses. It’s like “yeah, that’s what I should do. But that’s not what I’m going to do.” But, more often than not, the guilt has been offset by the satisfaction of doing what I wanted to do.
I’ve fallen so much. I used to be such a nice guy. Such a “good kid.” I lament the loss of the positive self-image, but I embrace the new self. I’m not what I was raised to be. I’m not what I’m supposed to be. But, oh, I’m what I want to be: uncompromisingly, unapologetically so.
So. Volunteer whatever: “check!”
Back in the ‘States. For a month (maybe more), I applied for jobs that were above my qualifications, or, if I was qualified, required more than a six month committment. “You’re quite qualified for the position,” I heard more than once, “but we’re looking to fill the position permanently. We appreciate your honesty.”
So I ended up delivering pizzas and fixing computer for five months. It was fine. Actually, it was absolutely … stultifying? It was utter stagnation, for six months. Six months without learning, without challenge, personal development, whatever. Just … a lot of work. Sixty hours a week, every week, for six months. In my journal, I filled in six pages between June and the end of summer. There were single daysin India that I filled six pages…
In June, I went up with my Dad to Duluth, MN, to cheer him as he ran Grandma’s Marathon, and to pack and move my aging grandmother from her house to Cheyenne. That’s where I lost my other journal– the one with all my thoughts, memories, reflection from India. Moving my Grandma was hard– hard on everyone: her and my Dad especially, I think. But she’s here now. I spent part of Christmas day with her; she’s happily settled in her new environment. In fact, she has no idea how long she’s been here. Years, she thinks. The dimensia settles in, wreaks its havoc.
At the end of August, I returned to Bozeman. It was obvious, in no shortage of ways, that a year had passed, without me. I was placed in Quad D, rather than E. I’ve grown to love D over the semester, but it’s different. Instead of people to sit around and talk about the solution to the latest political problem with, I have a bunch of fun people to play Beirut with on a Friday night. And, honestly, this semester I probably needed more Beirut than intellectual stimulation.
I took twenty credit hours, mostly history, mostly 400 level, and, for the first time since 8th grade, got a four-point. And yeah–modesty it’s a virtue. But all the virtues in the world never brought anyone happiness. Of that I’m convinced. So I’ll say it: I’m proud of it. I worked hard, and worked well. I turned in some good work this semester, and I’m firmly set on a path for the next four semesters, and next four years. Economics is a great fit. I have a sense of direction and purpose. And man, that’s cool. It’s like a warm blanket at night, when I go to sleep– something I’ve never had before.
Jenny was married in May. It was a beautiful outdoor wedding. Her husband, Tory, is fun, smart and open-minded. They’re happy together.
I went backpacking in the Winds in August with my Dad and Sagar for a week. It was easily the highlight of the summer. Easily enough, too: it was the only summer I didn’t work.
I’m still bad at the guitar.
And so now I’ll finish the year, quietly and simply. Today I’ve read (still working on finishing the books that were assigned in High School) and written a little. I had dinner with my parents tonight, and then played a game of Scrabble with them, after doing the dishes.
If someone were to ask me tonight “how’s life?” I could only respond that it’s a roller coaster. But I enjoy the ride. Most days.
Well, 2007, here we come. In Macbeth’s words: “Blow, wind! come, wrack! At least we’ll die with harness on our back!“