The close of one year and the beginning of a new year inevitably brings along a lot of introspection for people. I can say, without a doubt, that 2015 has been the most challenging and rewarding year of my life. It's been both a beautiful experience and a difficult fight. Each month challenged me to grow; and while I fought against it at times, grow I did.
The beginning of 2015 started off rocky for me. I didn't go out on New Year's Eve because I had to work the next day at 7AM. Instead, I spent the evening alone with my dog. In the last few minutes of 2014, I was pretty certain that because I was starting my year off alone and feeling sorry for myself that it was a bad omen for the remainder of my year.
Fortunately, I was wrong. And silly. I'm rolling my eyes at 2014 Rhyann right now.
While January was less than memorable, in February of 2015, I traveled to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. It was a hell of a trip and wilder than I ever could have imagined. We ate, we danced, we drank, we repeated.
March was a big month because I applied for my current job in Portland. I was absolutely certain they wouldn't choose a candidate from another state. But as I kept passing each level of interviews, the idea of picking up and leaving became more and more real. Now, there was a possibility for me to change my life and take it in a direction that I never expected.
On March 13th, I was offered the job and asked to be in Portland by April 13th. I spent three days thinking it over, and even though I was scared shitless, I took the job.
April was a mix of highs and lows. My precious doggy died on April 3rd, and four days later I was driving up to Portland with all of my belongings packed into my tiny car. I set off on my first solo road trip into what felt like some kind of unknown, dark abyss. There was something about taking that drive, though, that felt unbelievably empowering. What is more symbolic of starting fresh by yourself than taking a road trip alone?
I arrived in Portland with only one friend in town and spent the next seven days living out of a suitcase. Still concerned that I made a stupid mistake selling/giving away many of my belongings, quitting a relatively stable job, and moving from one of the sunniest states to one of the rainiest ones, I continued trucking along.
My first day at work at a tech company was mesmerizing. There was free lunch and beanbag chairs and a video game room. I didn't know it then, but I also met some of my closest friends in those first few days in Portland.
May, June, July, and August (and September because it was still really warm) made up the happiest summer of my life. It was filled with hiking, swimming in the river, an electronic music festival, lazy brunches, and no air conditioning.
The days were long and full of laughter and fun and PBRs. I felt a fullness of life that I've never felt before. I spent so much time in college studying and being a nervous Nelly that this was truly the first time I was completely carefree.
I camped for the first time in October and was enamored with it. It made me feel so alive (the 26° F temperatures may have helped too). I adventured to Bend and Mt. Saint Helens.
In November the weather began to noticeably change and the infamous Portland rain began to fall. The days grew shorter, the puddles bigger. I wasn't particularly looking forward to November or December because it would be my first year spending the holidays alone. Thanksgiving came, and while completely lovely, I felt the weight of my decision to move so far from my family. It was one of the first times since I moved to Portland that I really felt alone.
And then there was November 30th.
It's interesting because I've started to think of that day as a turning point in my life: everything that happened before November 30th and everything that happened after.
The beginning of December was a blur of surgeries, hospital stays, doctors, appointments, and relentless crying. I felt out of control; not in the reckless sense, more that I literally had no control over my life. I came to the realization that I couldn't control the car that hit me and I couldn't control my bones not to break and I couldn't control the the waves of tears. I had to let go.
My best friend visited me for five days and helped to boost my spirits. We watched Jane the Virgin and ate chocolate and rolled my wheelchair around the mall. I was so immensely grateful for her during those early days when I felt like I couldn't do it.
I forced myself out of the house to go to my company Christmas party. It was hard to get around and I felt awkward and conspicuous in my wheelchair. But I had fun. And I was surrounded by the people I love.
Later in the month my mom visited for the holidays. We hobbled around Portland enjoying the sites and restaurants. I had dreaded spending the holidays alone, but this big accident that I never expected brought her to me.
This experience has been shitty and I still have those days when I'm so angry I could burst, but I believe in fate. I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe that we are tested so that we can learn and prepare for the future.
Had it not been for November 30th, I wouldn't have seen my best friend or my mom; I wouldn't have realized how many people care for me; I wouldn't have gotten giant arm muscles from crutching around. My leg might be broken, but my heart is so much fuller now.
So here's to the New Year: to health, to happiness, to growth, to love.