I started writing this on March 5th, the day before my birthday, but paused — Do I write these posts on my birthday or just before? I couldn’t remember. Turns out I write them on my birthday but, forget tradition, I decided to have my words show up early. It feels fitting for this year, my not remembering details like this yet still trying to show up in the world. How do these posts go again? I’m not sure either and I’m enjoying forcing myself to write without knowing what tone and approach the prior ones took. I don’t need consistency here and I don’t know why I ever thought I did.
I recently started reading How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti and found myself stuck on a line today:
“I could tell I was in a new day.”
I felt nearly each day this last year whether it was the weight of it, the opportunity, the unfamiliarity, etc. I started getting hugs again. I got vaccinated (x3), lost my vaccine card, and went through joyous bureaucracy to get another copy. I began slowly nomading again over long drives and stretches of time to see loved ones. I lived minutes away from a best friend for nearly six months. I spent more hours on the phone than I thought humanly possible with people somehow game to do life from afar. I rapidly made new friendships, deepened others, and seemingly lost a few. I cared less about visiting new places and more about returning to stable, known ground. I created as many Absurdly Alive moments as I could trying to wake myself back up to life after the dreary height of quarantine from fancy dinners in DC to blasting emo music along the blue ridge parkway, friends in tow. I got a pasta maker, made a ton of pasta, and gave it away. I had some of the best days of my life and knew they were as they were happening.
Panic attacks returned — I have a running tally of them. I met my birthmom’s wider family at my sister’s wedding: all of my siblings, some of their kids, and all of her siblings. I haven’t written much about the experience likely because it still doesn’t feel real. I wore a suit finding myself too exhausted to try to hide any part of me. I heard “Baby Anne!” repeatedly forgetting that that’s how people saw me. One Aunt exclaimed upon seeing me for the first time, “Holy shit you do look like my sister”. I had nieces nervously ask to be introduced. My Aunts and Uncle very kindly scribbled down their contact information on a flimsy and small piece of paper before seemingly nominated a non related spouse of theirs to give it to me. I somehow found a way to step into the experience as I watched my siblings interact with my birthmom before the wedding began, quickly making decisions and teasing each other. I observed their normal cadence of interacting trying to understand where I fit and what I was missing. The panic attacks landed me in the ER a few months before the wedding and continued a few weeks after. They last for hours and they force me to pay attention. I wrote this in a future letter to myself that arrived recently:
Everything with my sister’s wedding really got to me and I imagine when I read this, it still will haunt me. I wish I had some form of wisdom to share beyond hoping my future self is further along that journey. The feelings really cut to the core, don’t they? The panic just beneath the surface is so real (too real). I must remember it is a gift to feel these things at all, to not be stuck wondering. My problems have progressed while still remaining problems. It’s hard to see it as movement but I can feel how I’m grappling with greater and greater root problems in my life. Sometimes I fear that I’ll be obliterated by them. I’ll combust on the spot. I’ll start crying and slowly dissolve.
My world both shrunk and expanded, repeatedly. Plot twist, I didn’t and haven’t combusted. Later in the same note to self:
Refill and renew as you go and don’t go alone. Interdependence with hella flawed humans (yourself very much included) is where it’s at.
As I head into 29, plans are already shaping up to do exactly that. I’m hanging out in Seattle for a few months (for now) to be near a close friend, try on a city for a time, and have more glorious nature adventures to fill up my soul. A trip is already booked to watch one of my childhood best friends compete in America Ninja Warrior and another is in the works to celebrate the 30th birthday of a different childhood friend. I have two incredible weddings for people I love dearly to look forward to nearly back to back in the Fall. I’m toying with buying one of those fancy adult bikes having only ever owned a yellow bike I got in third grade from my grandparents. I already have an invite to a pick up soccer group on Sundays in Seattle. Right now, I don’t know where I’ll live after the end of June but I have a few guesses and I appreciate the attentiveness that requires.
I want more of this weird life I have bouncing around with my few possessions, long conversations with loved ones, working with people around the world through a screen, spending hours out in nature snapping photos or simply breathing it all in. When I look back on this last year of life, that’s all I can think: I want more of these memories and I mourn deeply the ones I don’t have with certain loved ones.
Last night a bit before midnight, I met up with a childhood friend and her glorious dog. We walked around DC counting down the minutes, weaving between groups of drunk people, and trying to remember the name of a show. When the clock struck midnight, I was surrounded by life — cars going buy, lights everywhere, people loudly milling about. “It’s my birthday”. We hugged. She dramatically sang to me. She gave me a message in a bottle (literally). We walked around more and parted ways. A friend facetimed when I got back and sang to me once more. Another sent an audio message. It was perfect. I thought I would spend this birthday alone.