New Year’s Eve 2013/2014. My boyfriend and I are standing on our front porch of the first home that we’ve lived in together. The porch faces Pike’s Peak, where a group of lunatics spend their New Year’s going to the top of the 14,000 foot peak and setting off fireworks for people like my boyfriend and I to enjoy from the warmth of our home, popping in and out for drink refills, stealing red-nosed kisses as we start to dream about what the year ahead of us will bring.
I’m dreaming of a year together where his employer doesn’t whisk him away for prolonged periods of time. His employer, the Air Force, does not care about my dreams.
I don’t know what he was dreaming about. We were settling in. He’d just gotten back from Afghanistan and came back to America where his girlfriend had found a house on his request and now for the first time, he was living with a significant other.
We snuggled on the couch that night, I insisted on selfies: him, the dog, the cat and myself. I was toasting to the year ahead, but truth be told I felt zero direction. NYE is usually a loud, obnoxious, celebrated call to action from the universe to me, but this year – as closely as I was listening – all I heard was an echoing silence. It was terrifying. As someone just getting serious with an Air Force officer, the landscape of my career had altered drastically in the past year. I had taken a job that allowed me to telecommute and by the time the holidays had rolled around, I was just waiting for the CEO to make official what I already knew: it wasn’t a good fit. Looking back on that, I recognize by allowing that relationship to continue that I was giving away my power.
And I was. I was in a new house in a new city with a new weird job that I didn’t really like so much, but I decided to be timid. Wait for the CEO’s phone call.
When the phone call came, it was cordial if not downright sweet. He gave me two weeks to stay on pay roll in addition to the computer he’d bought me less than a year before. He is still kind enough to send me referrals as he sees fit and there are absolutely no bridges burned.
My boyfriend: so supportive. Some of the things that he said: take some time for yourself, you’ve been working your whole life; discover what you really want to do; be lazy and watch some television. It was amazing to know that I had this support but soon I was struggling with purpose. I’m not one to not work. Accepting help and support has not been an easy thing for me to do and is a skill that this year has most certainly forced me to learn.
My inability to pull my career together caused my perception of self-worth to go down. I had jealous ticks and felt an ugliness inside. I “started a business” but I was floundering; unfocused. I was surrounded by change and adapting to the new life as military significant other; a life completely void of the stringent control that I exercised during my single days. And I was lost.
An identity was falling apart.
As of NYE 2013/2014, I had said goodbye to my (albeit) small circle of (very) good friends in Denver. An hour drive to go see my people was made impossible by debilitating panic attacks that cause my heart to trampoline around my body and my vision to take naps as it sees fit. Friends were sweet enough to come check and visit anyway, but I’d beat myself up for not having a very basic ability to perform a very basic task: driving.
The year has been spotted with some amazing visits. Sarah and Zack and Lyla coming down and playing at the arcade in Manitou Springs. Kelli and Melati coming over and bringing Cards Against Humanity for an inappropriately good time. Kelli coming over during the summer when Francisco was away to make sure that the depression wasn’t too all consuming. Walking Dead and Mad Men Sunday nights while Francisco cooked and Kelli and I drank and gossiped on the couch. My mom always stopping by when she gets a chance.
Working from home in a city where I don’t know anyone is a toxic vortex and I find Epicentral Coworking in downtown Colorado Springs. It is full of ambitious people who are passionate about their projects, understand the entrepreneur’s plight and are all of that magnetic variety of people who look at convention and say: “not me”. They are the definers of their own destiny. They are resilient and visionary and having a place to go where people understood what I was experiencing was better than group therapy.
It’s run by an amazing woman. I value amazing women in my life. There are nerds. There are community activists. My spirits lift and so does my business, but just by a little bit. There’s nothing consistent and by September, Francisco asks me if I would please get a part time job.
I gladly say yes. He’s carried my financial weight for the entire year and there’s a car payment thanks to me.
I’m two days away from starting a job in a call center that I’m trying to be as optimistic as possible with. And I get an email from a woman that heard from me through a web designer that I worked with in what now feels like a lifetime ago. She’s a branding dynamo and powerful presence.
“What are you doing next week?” she asks during our first conversation.
“Starting a shitty job.”
“Want to come to Vegas and help me run my Marketing to Millionaires event instead?”
Yes. Yes, I would.
Over Labor Day Weekend, my boyfriend and I are celebrating two years together by camping. He’d gotten the REI fever and we were excited to take all the gear down to Salida and be a part of the camping elite. New Subaru: check. Nice stove: check. Hammock: check. Super nice tent from REI: check. Stylish rugged gear: check. We are of Colorado, our whole car seemed to say.
The last day I’m tired. I’d wondered whether there would be a proposal, but after a hike to a waterfall (pretty romantic) and canoodling at a hot springs afterward, the notion and hope of becoming enfianceed was safely tucked away. It wasn’t going to happen.
We’ve cleaned up dinner. I’m running a schedule for packing and departure the next morning, working through the details in my head. He’s by the fire and starts thanking me for two amazing years and minutes later is on a knee and the tears are pouring down my face and I can’t believe that it happened with no make up and camping clothes while we smelled like campfire and my heart is beating and I’m going to be a wife. I feel like a child. We watch a movie on the iPad in the tent. I love him and I’m grateful that I let go of control two years ago.
And not only has letting go of the control brought me an amazing spouse; it’s set my life on a new course.
I land in Vegas and catch a cab to the country club in Henderson. I meet Kelly and am immediately in love with her star quality. She’s fun. The people that she’s gathered together are smart. They are making serious changes in peoples’ lives and they aren’t afraid to go after serious personal and business goals.
Come to find out my new boss is more than fun: there’s a big heart behind that big personality. We “get” each other. She’s smart and unapologetic about her big ideas for the world. I’m pleasantly amused at the realizations happening in my mind: this is the person and community that is going to bring me to places I didn’t know I wanted to go.
That was three months ago. The realizations were not prematurely founded or based on romantic optimism. I’m looking at 2015 and it’s nothing but a universe of unexplored places and there’s light everywhere. One of our people offers me a hypnotherapy session: I have a beautiful life. Another one of our people introduces me to my spirit team: mine consists of two and they’re always with me and they love me so much. I choose to believe this and now I’m never alone. Silence is trumped by the echoes of responsibility and possibility.
A courthouse. Our family. Our friends. A judge. We are married. Speeches. Food. Unanticipated dancing. I have a new family and my world has shifted.
I find myself fiercely protective of our newlywed-ness; a reaction that I never anticipated. We are solid and we are learning. We buy a house and tile a floor together and I joke it’s our first baby. We go to Taos and do nothing for two nights. We have our first Christmas and he hung lights on my insistence. We watch Seven and Zoolander on Christmas Eve. Before that, my mom takes pictures of us beneath the mistletoe.
The holiday is over. I tear through the house cleaning, organizing, crafting, nesting. I’m making the perfect environment for everything that needs to happen this next year happen. I won’t dream of a year with my husband; he’ll be gone for half of it. But I’m dreaming of a year with new direction. As a good associate both at home and in business. With a new mindset that anything is possible and not in that platitude motivational poster type of way. But, really: it’s ALL possible.
An identity was lost earlier this year, but I’m glad it was and I’m no longer looking for it. This year, any silence in the universe’s call to action is unequivocally drowned out by booming echoes of responsibility, clarity and possibility.
Thank you, 2014. And thank you to all of my beautiful friends and family who played roles more important than you’ll probably ever know.