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And Counting

Here is a fact: I have been living on my own (after many years of doing, well, not that) for about a year now. Friends were made! Life lessons were learned! Landlords were avoided! I’ve been rolling these facts over in my mind, trying to understand how my life has changed, and how I have changed, and what it all means.

You know what?

It’s been a good year.

I’ve written more in the past year than I have in the past three or four years combined. I even get paid for some of it. I’ve given myself license to care more about researching French feminisms than I do about cleaning the bathtub. Many of the people that I now consider friends were strangers a year ago. I’ve been to Seattle; I’ve been to Olympia; I’ve ridden a bike along the length of Manhattan. I’ve consumed burritos of strange and wondrous make. I’ve routinely stayed out past my bedtime. I’ve worked rooms and microphones and parties. I’ve made enemies. I’ve cried and I’ve chainsmoked and I’ve gone without sleep; I’ve identified with Emily Gould. I’ve done things that have made my friends’ jaws drop. I’ve done things that have shocked even me.

It is easy – maybe too easy – to stop asking yourself what would make you happy, and stay close to the things that you think will make you safe. This is wrong, and I will tell you why: you are never safe. Loss and change are constants. You will never be safe, and you may not always be happy – but you owe it to yourself to start asking the question.

And a few months ago I was on the Staten Island Ferry, drinking beer and watching the city get bigger in the dark, and I was trying to place that experience within the context of other experiences I’d had; I was asking myself what it resembled. And the answer came from some corner of my skull: this isn’t like anything that you knew; this is what happens next. And I asked myself, well then, what happens next? And the answer was, being an adult.

That is kind of a big revelation to cope with while you are drinking cheap beer on a free boat ride, but you don’t always get to choose when to cope with things, and anyway, most of the revelations in this what-comes-next world will probably share space with low-cost booze. And I liked the boat ride; I liked the people on the boat ride; I really liked this year.