Saccharine clichés abound this time of year, and nauseate those who’d prefer to wrap themselves in a curmudgeonly cocoon and swill a vodka pom, musing all the while about the ridiculousness of the whole shebang. So maybe I’m projecting a bit. Or would if I actually felt like that this year.
The truth is that I have always had plenty for which I should be thankful, and have always been fortunate enough to have surrounding me a glut of good, kind-hearted people who want nothing more than to share with me this crazy adventure called life. Until my perception of the fluidity of experience finally crystallized in my mind–how life is porous, always absorbing and contorting more with every second’s passing–I hinged on the fact that, every year, I seemed to never change.
But when I cast a retrospective glance over my shoulder at five years of living in North Carolina, peruse my assortment of photographs–from my naïve UNC-CH grad school days to my shovel-bum years, from my Dahling-inspired Sanford porch sittings to Bragging it up paisley-style in a sea of camouflage, from initially awkward immersion in Raleigh life to full-fledged LGBTQ activist–experiences galore smack me across the face, waking me to the reality that I’m constantly changing. That I’m experience incarnate.
A sleep-deprived graduate student reeling from feelings of disenfranchisement became a jaded, disaffected shovel-bum during the height of the recession, who landed a heartier job that requires constantly navigating the irony of working with Big Brother. But somewhere in that welter of work-related nonsense, I realized that my life isn’t about any of it. Being someone who effects change has become the fulcrum around which everything else in my life operates: a friend, a son, a brother, an activist, a voice of reason, an apropos catty commentator, a smile-inducer, a willing listener. Someone of whom I can be proud in a given moment.
So, in this clarifying moment, I’ll cast aside the cynicism and chastise myself for being a brat. And instead thank each and every person who has been there through any part of my life’s journey, whose kindness, presence, or bullheadedness affected me, played even the tiniest role in molding me into this neurotic, dramatic, accessible person who’s comfortable being all of that.
Who’s always here to do or be just the same for you.