I have a memory…

It’s late 2013 and I sit upstairs in the middle of the night. David Gray’s, “This Year’s Love” is playing for seemingly hundredth time on Pandora. Listening to every lyric- every element, in an attempt to study, almost as if it pray, I lose myself in sincerity.

“This year’s love had better last,” Gray croons. I lean my back against the headboard in an otherwise tiny room- a cathedral filled with words all over the walls and pillows. The music reverberates from the ceiling as the neighbors pound on the wall. These walls are tiny reminders that not everything is shit. I live by those signs as they remind me with every blink to laugh more, criticize less; love more and fear less.

I focused all I had on practicing love- the real kind. Agape, C.S. Lewis calls it. I built the idea right there, thinking the box signs would be charms. With the power of thought, I could do this. I was going to be the love I’ve so tried to capture in each failure. I promised myself it could happen. And it didn’t.

2014 brought with it the realization that a recipe that would create a perfect co-parent relationship, couldn’t be found in any bookstore aisle or therapist’s office. I had to release my anger about cancer, and the need to be needed. I struggled to retrain and find depth in myself once more. It happened in short, strange bursts- fleeting moments that were never as sacred as they were beautiful. I found parts of me in paint colors and the great North. Sometimes, I was the most earnest greens, others I was a strong black. Our love didn’t last, but I was a mess of color. A beautiful, garish portrait of deep blues and goldenrod yellows, I was unlike I had ever seen before.

2015 was a year of remarkable achievement. I survived the embarrassment and fear of anal cancer. I crossed 4 large items off a bucket list that became a humbling symbol for, “still here,” as other dear cancer sisters passed on. All the vibrant paint stroke colors that decorated my body found a way onto others. In the beginning, I feared I had lost what I gained- I became pale and fearful. I recognized later everything was still there- a more thoughtful and delicate skin than I had noticed at first. There were reminders everywhere- I was slowly becoming everything I had longed for and painted.

I found purpose in new relationships. I practiced the fine art of letting go of dear friends who died too soon, and others that walked away too quickly for me to chase. I let go of a relationship that I outgrew for its sentimentality and inauthenticity. I became a solid, thankful co-parent- a majority of the time. Mostly, I experienced something that I can now only describe as: AGAPE.

I love someone with such ferocity that it made me feel remarkable- not celebratory, but humbled and enlightened. I didn’t realize the practice of this love until I had time to reflect on a painful, heartbreaking drive home. I love unselfishly, let go willingly and remarkably stayed intact. I can only describe it as a true gift for I had crossed off the number one item on my bucket list: I had loved, for the want of nothing in return. I learned to let go, and not control… I realized I was so very capable.

It was my Eat, Pray, Love moment. I had my Wild adventure. I had IT.

And it was real- it happened. I had many calls to confirm my suspicions and came down to write and curate because this had to be told just this way. It was short-lived and it was priceless. It was one of the biggest blessings I’ve ever been given. It simply…. was.

I had finally proven to myself, I was competent of the unconditional within the context of an adult romantic relationship. This was the only thing I felt could ever remove a non-existent curse for each of the wedding dresses that reside in my parent’s downstairs closet.

How is there joy in pain? I don’t understand it, but I feel it.

It’s remarkable how gratifying failure can be. I pulled over at the side of the road tonight to cry in a way I’ve never cried before- because the realization that I was capable, was almost too much to bear. It stunned the senses. I need a new bucket list.

So, I welcome you, 2016. Let’s be colorful and messy and absolutely outrageous. Let’s keep practicing thankfulness over realism. Please teach me it’s okay to believe in magic and let go of self-imposed curses. I’m waiting for your greatness. And I’m hopeful, joyful and oh, so ready.