While 2011 winds down and I’m still sober, I can’t help but be a giant cliché and look back at the last year. At first is was to write it off; after all, unlike years past, we didn’t spend the year bopping around the country, continuously packing up our lives and diving into a new adventure. For the second year running, we were entirely normal, and entirely boring. Dare I say, domesticated.
But the more I think about it, the more I think that’s okay. Yeah, we’ve now had the same address for over a year. There haven’t been any epic, cross-country moves with our lives and two cats crammed into two foreign cars. And I’m actually starting to see people I know at the grocery store. (I know, it’s fucked up, right?) And yet, I think this foray into stability has been healthy for us. Instead of constantly fighting and struggling through life alone, this static life has been a strong foundation for other kinds of adventures, ones that, for the fist time, include other people. (Which kinda threw me at first, but that’s another neurosis for another day.)
So despite the lameness at first glance, I think that 2011 was really good for us. It found us opening up our lives to new possibilities and new people, and new and wonderful experiences. So here’s the top 11 (because it was 2011) moments and experiences of 2011, in no particular order. (And not a single one of them is lame!)
Spending real time with real friends.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had friends in other cities since college. Sort of. We’ve had work friends and acquaintances. But not since college have we had friends that we felt comfortable enough to truly allow into our lives the way we have in Saratoga. Like I said before, it threw me at first because I wasn’t used to letting people in to the deeper part of our lives. But it’s turned out to be a wonderful thing. So much laughing and sharing and feeling. Whether it was spending the day at the horse track, going out to the bar, or just relaxing with a movie and some wine, we’ve had so much fun that never would have happened if our friends hadn’t managed to worm their way past our defenses and into our lives. (I’m looking at you, Christine and Ryan.) I feel beyond lucky to have met such wonderful people, and beyond honored to be able to be a part of their lives.
Kyle getting the Production Manager job at The Egg.
Remember back in May when I was freaking out because Kyle was now going to be my boss? Turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened. Sure, it means that now we spend way too fucking much time together. But it also means that the worst of the emotionally difficult parts of my job are made monumentally easier because there’s someone else fighting in the trenches beside me.
Getting to experience my first 4th of July at the lake.
I’d been hearing about past 4th of July celebrations at Holiday Shores (where Kyle grew up and my in-laws still live) for a long time, and they sounded epic. So I was beyond psyched when for the first time in a very, very long time neither Kyle nor I had to work on the 4th. You guys, it was so much fucking fun! Not just the day of the 4th, but the whole week. Endless swimming, drinking, and shooting fireworks into the sky. Doing nothing I didn’t want and only what I wanted. Spending time relaxing with family. You guys, it was wonderful!
Taking Ajkun Ballet down to the city for the second time.
You guys might remember the first time I went down to the city with this company and put up a lighting design and called the show. Well, I did it again, and in my mind, this second time was more important than the first. (For one, it proved that I did a good enough job for them to ask me back!) It gave me an opportunity, knowing the challenges from the year before and all the places I’d faltered and failed, to take control and do myself proud. I got to fix my mistakes, do it right, and prove to myself that it wasn’t just a fluke. The first time I managed to make my way through it; this time, I fucking did it. (Also, I learned how to light open white party scenes without making everyone on stage look like a paper doll, but that’s not as interesting or epic.)
Cape Cod trip.
This trip was wonderful for so many reasons. Our wonderful friend Christine was fucking awesome enough to invite us to come see her at her parents’ home in Cape Cod, and her parents were fucking awesome enough to invite us into their home for the weekend. This trip shared many of the wonderful traits of our lake trip: swimming (in an ocean this time!), relaxing, and an open fridge with endless alcoholic options. Really, you can’t go wrong. But there were two distinct things that made this trip starkly different from our lake trip: the seafood and the friendships. When I say there was fresh seafood everyday, I mean the creatures had barely been dead for longer than I had been awake. Christine’s father used to own his own fish market and her uncle still worked many of the fish boats, and that means limitless access to seafood right off the boat. Seriously, how many other families will have an uncle show up at the back door at 9am with a garbage bag full of lobsters? And nobody knows how to cook seafood like Christine’s family. So much delicious yumminess, I can’t even describe it! But more than the delicious food was the way this trip felt like it cemented our friendship with Christine. (And, by default, Ryan, even though he was a butthole with a job who had to work.) To be invited into their lives and their families with such kindness and generosity really touched me in a way that I didn’t expect and did a lot to open me up to the possibility of a real friendship.
Getting to design lights for Savion Glover, Adam Pascal & Anothony Rapp, and the Indigo Girls.
These experiences were wonderful for two reasons. For one, I am a monumental fan of every one of these artists. Shit, I’ve been a fan of Savion’s since I was a wee one watching Sesame Street. So to be a part of a production featuring one of my heroes is huge. For fuck’s sake, I talked concept with Savion himself. I was introduced to Anthony Rapp. HUGE! But it was also badass because…well, you know how they say that you should never meet your idol? Because your idol usually generally turns out to be a giant jackass? Not true in any of these cases. Every one of them was super nice and just as amazing as I’ve always heard or seen. And to know that I played a part in their production, to make them look even more amazing than they already are? Fucking amazing. Literally, the experience of a lifetime.
So much hiking!
Though never as much as I’d like! With mountains all around, it wasn’t hard for us to find plenty of trails to disappear down. I’ve never been much of a nature person, per say; I appreciate a pretty tree as much as the next guy, but I’ve never found myself drawn to the allure of the wild. But hiking has become about more than just a great workout among the pretty trees; it’s about an escape. We spend all day, everyday in a gigantic concrete building under nothing but artificial light. We work in a world of stress and rush and “make it happen.” And sometimes, it’s nice to disappear into a world of soft and silent and whispers and shadows and wonder. A world without distraction, just Kyle and me and our thoughts. And that breathtaking moment of looking out over the land and thinking nothing but, “OH!” It’s the perfect escape.
Getting to see Flogging Molly, Journey, and The Urge in concert.
Despite the fact that I spend more time in a dark theatre than in the sunlight, until this year I had actually seen very few live shows. Maybe two or three in my life, and none of them memorable. But this year I was able to see some fucking bonkers shows. Every one of them amazing, every one of them filling me with energy and life! Oh, and there was also my introduction into the writhing, breathing world of the pit, where I learned to fight for my place and throw elbows without fear. Badass!
You guys remember that time that I became a rock star in 2:22:13 and then spent the next two months unable to shut up about it? Yeah, I don’t think we need to revisit that one. (Even if it was totally fucking badass!)
Our anniversary trip to Niagara Falls.
This trip was fantastic in and of itself; great sightseeing, yummy food, sexy time in our sexy hotel room. But more importantly, it was the first time pretty much ever that we’ve been able to take the time to really celebrate our anniversary and celebrate us. Like I’ve said before, we’ve spent so much of our married life fighting and struggling to arrive where we are. And for the first time, we took a moment to celebrate where we are and where we’ve come to. And that, my lovelies, is more wonderful than any cinnamon-caramel-apple-praline orgasm of a crepe. (Though it’s close.)
Reconnecting with family.
One of the terrible things about living so far from where we grew up is that it makes it hard to make it back to see family. Especially since my parents have been just as nomadic as we have over the last couple years, it made it very hard to make it back to see extended family. So much so that we hadn’t seen anyone from my side of the family (save parents and my brother) since our wedding. I know, it’s messed up. But now my parents are back living close to where they grew up, and over Christmas we were able to see a lot of my family from both sides. And it was so great to be able to see them. I think as we enter into adulthood in high school and into college, the temptation is to run away from family as fast as possible with both middle fingers in the air. (At least it was for me.) It’s part of that exploration of independence. But as I’m becoming
less of a little shit more mature, I’m realizing how important family can be and what they can mean in a person’s life. And it was wonderful to reach out and reconnect with family and find that there’s still love there.
So that, more or less, was 2011. I hope 2012 is full of laughter, adventure, love, and enough badassery to damn-near kill us all.