Dividing the year by months perhaps isn’t the easiest thing to do. This year, more than many others, stretched and shrank; some days did not end and some weeks flew by, for better and worse, all blurry and already past. My brain was not a reliable instrument. Some things it refuses to remember clearly. What happened to me in January, in February? It is hard to say. And then, what in August, in September, in October? Too much to say. Nonetheless, I split the year into twelve parts, simply because I like lists.

January. The year turned over grey.

February. I couldn’t hide. Everything was bleak was seemingly endless. That’s all I’ll say.

March. It began with headaches, but gradually that passed. And I went to New York City, and I saw a very best friend, and we danced to Cut Copy, and I met Gandalf (okay, Ian McKellen). I was emerging into my world again. But back to work.

April. Just work, which stretched on, monotonizing the days. But the end was, at last, in sight. I looked forward to something, once more. Looking forward is important. You need to see a future.


Kokosing Gap Trail Bridge


May. Things started to brighten. I left my job. My friend came from Finland (one home) and we went to Gambier (another home) and Bloomington (a former home) and Mammoth Cave (which is just cool). We spent the hours on roads talking and talking. Four years of separation: nothing. The past compressed and we remembered all the words to our teenager music just perfectly. Now and the past clasped hands, just right.

June. When someone invites you to go to Siberia with them, say yes. Yes, yes, yes, it’s crazy, I’m crazy, I bowed my head to everyone. But I liked sitting at home with a grand adventure ahead, planning away. In between, I was in a friend’s wedding and two of us bridesmaids epically danced to Wonderwall. Slowly, turning back to myself.

July. More time sitting at home, some spent interning, some planning, some reading. I was on a cusp.


Atop Vityaz


August. Ben graduated, we celebrated, and then I was gone. To Siberia! This choice I made was the best choice. This time in Siberia was the best time. I needed a cleansing more than I even imagined and, let me tell you, trees stretching endlessly on, freezing cold rushing rivers, a clear lake as far as one can see, a sky untouched by electricity—this all washes through you, sweeping the dark grit away. And then! As if Siberia wasn’t perfect enough, after the aching, parting goodbyes, I made my way through Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia and joined up with other wonderful people. I walked through streets, I cycled through dunes, I walked through forests. I know things that make me happy, and this is one.

September. September started in Finland. I had made it, which was secretly beyond my hopes at the beginning of the year. Friends, mushrooms, Helsinki, sauna, art. It’s all the best. And then, the country-hopping concluded, back to the arms of my partner, now a bit stronger, and certainly happier.


Hämeenlinna Lake


October. Now I had to live the normal life again, but the travel glow encapsulated me. I applied to jobs. I traveled to DC for a wedding. At the very end of the month, Ben and I flew to Seattle to scope out a future life. And it came faster than we guessed: on Halloween, I got a job offer.

November. The task of shaping this new life began. Ben and I searched for a place for me to stay in Seattle. But you can’t go all the way to the Pacific Northwest and ignore the outdoors, so despite the logistical planning of moving across the country, we made our way to Olympic National Park to camp for a week. Rainforest to mountains to beaches—this is a good place. Back to Nashville for a few days, packing the belongings I could fit in my little car. Then, eleven states in four days. Then, moving in. Then, starting my new job. November was a lot.


Atop Hurricane Ridge


December. I explored Seattle; I adjusted to my new job. And I’ll admit, I’m still anxious to settle down for real, as in not in a temporary place, as in back with Ben. To end the year, however, I’m back in Nashville, with him, for the holidays, for helping with moving arrangements. But 2014 moved forward indeed, and I needed that.

2015 may well shift in ways I can’t imagine. 2014 contained more than I dared hope for, though the beginning was a battle I didn’t think I would win. By the end, I met most of my goals, and achieved more important things than that list says.

If 2014 had a bottom line, it would be this: you need to hold on to what makes you happy. Tightly. Scrappily. Grab what you can.