Its 9:30 am on Sunday, January 1st. Today I woke up to the sound of my mother screaming and my father swearing and frantic footsteps dashing down the stairs outside my bedroom. Startled, I opened my door to a truly revolting odour: it smelled like a combination of pungent incense and burning rubber. I grabbed my phone, ready to call 911, stumbled downstairs still half asleep and ran into the kitchen. My parents were standing over the sink holding a ruined pillowcase, smoke still rising from a big, angry scorch mark marring the blue cotton.
Apparently my mom managed to overheat her new heating pads (a Christmas gift), and light my dad’s pillow on fire while he slept.
And so begins 2017.
It doesn’t feel like a fresh year yet. My hair is sad and limp from yesterday’s curls, my eyelashes are heavy from leftover mascara. My parents are downstairs bemoaning the loss of a good pillow (my dad is also probably bemoaning buying mom those heating pads for Christmas). The fresh snow outside has buried the sounds of traffic and city chatter and so the world feels quiet, reflective somehow. And before 2017 officially begins, before I shower and clean up and start my day, I’ll pretend it’s still 2016. Just a little bit longer.
How do I sum up this year? I tried to come up with a witty “2016 In Numbers” list:
Countries visited: 6
Cities visited: 20
Cities lived in: 4
Books read: 29
Bank accounts opened: 2
Tuk tuk rides taken: never enough
Stray dogs befriended: 3
Awesome people met: 200+
But then I stopped and decided to just write and see what came out.
The end of 2016 felt strange. Our Asia trip was abruptly cut one week short (due to an interesting experience in the Philippines), and as soon as I stepped into the chilly Canadian air my body revolted- I spent my first week home a snotty, coughing mess. It was the type of cold that burrows deep into your lungs and nests there, and its effects lasted an annoyingly long time. But also I was home and it was the holidays, and I really had no problem snuggling under three quilts and reading all day. I felt offbeat though, unused to long, quiet days of leisure after months of lively activity.
My Facebook has been littered with angry “screw you, 2016” posts, and not without good reason. Political upheaval, death, terrorism, war: a macro level snapshot of 2016 has hate and tragedy at the forefront. It’s important to acknowledge the failures of this year, and to make every attempt to leave these horrors in the past, but not to simplify and discount the progress and growth of another year. With this in mind, what do I want to bring with me into 2017?
This year, I learned to take control of my life. I learned to decide my future rather than just float with the tide to the expected finish line. I learned to do things just for the experience of doing them. It may not have made practical sense to work in a different country this past summer, paying for flights and visas, but hey, I loved doing it. Spend all my savings moving to Asia for four months and travelling around Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines? Sure, why not? Decide to move to Paris after graduation to spend a year drinking wine, eating cheese, and learning French? Hell yes! I learned to be excited for my future, to always be planning the next adventure, rather than slogging through endless routine. I learned to live and thrive and arrange my life to my specifications, not arbitrary societal expectations. And in the process I’ve gained more than I can hope to describe, and this is what I want to continue in the new year.
Alright, I’ve said my peace, and I can officially say goodbye to 2016. And say hello to a big breakfast, a much-needed shower, and a whole new year.