What I Have Learned This Past YearJanuary 1, 2013
Good evening friends, this is my 15th annual New Year’s reflection and I hope you enjoy!
To leave the exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon I found a staircase at the end of the show. I bounded down the square staircase and noticed a woman slightly ahead of me. I slowed down my pace not to have her think I was going to steal her bag. At the turnstile to leave the museum, she asked me something in French. I asked her if she spoke English.
Fatima happened to work in the Tourism Office in Lyon. Hence her mastery of English. We had lunch and she showed me her art studio in a dusty space above a dentist’s office. Paintings and spattered paint covered the floor next to boxes of old files. Fatima and I spoke about relationships. She told me about a man she knew that was in love with her. How he called her everyday. I told her about a girl named Alex. How we had met just a few months ago. How I thought it was different from all of the other girls I met. How we had this unexplainable spark.
Alex emailed me through eHarmony’s messaging service on Superbowl Sunday, twenty minutes before the game started. Five days later we had our first date. One date turned into another. And another. And another. This past year there would be crab cakes and baked salmon. Mornings at Golden Gardens. Brunches and sushi. Coffees at Victrola and the secret Starbucks. We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge in a brand new car and picked snow peas in Mount Vernon. There would be concerts and Sounders games. Warm summer walks and a Capitol Hill Block Party. We danced in a winery and got completely lost in Vancouver. And in two weeks we will get the keys to our new apartment together.
It is hard to believe that in the beginning of the year I went out with other people. The divorced wine lover with a second home in Walla Walla, the community college librarian nine years to my senior, and the woman who canceled our date because she had a negative result on her mammogram. Those dates seem like they were a lifetime ago. Now, when we are out at dinner or happy hour I love pointing out people who are on first dates.
Three days into the New Year I had my heart broken. See, I had been interviewing for a new job and I had gone very far in the process. It was narrowed between two candidates. And when I received the phone call from HR, it wasn’t an offer of employment but rather a conversation stating that they would keep my resume on file. Or in relationship speak, let’s just be friends. I went to their website a few months later and looked up the person they hired. She looked very happy.
Like people do in dating I kept on interviewing. I was overqualified for the position at the Catholic high school. My salary range was too high for the museum position. I didn’t make it pass the screening interview for the University position. And it was between me and another for the development manager position for a nonprofit helping people get legal services — I was not chosen. Then at a conference I run into an acquaintance who says the Pacific Science Center is in the process of interviewing candidates for a major gifts position and that I should send in my resume. Three weeks later I let Becky know that our last work trip to Walla Walla was unfortunately would be our last and I left PNDRI after 5 and half years.
I don’t know what more I can say about my trip to France that hasn’t been said already here, here, here, here, and here or through photos here. To be away from home in a foreign land by myself for a month was one of the most spiritual journeys I have ever done. To step on a plane in Seattle and emerge from the subway station in Paris only hours later was amazing. I felt reborn. And to turn 30 in Paris while eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant was most definitely a highlight of 2012.
Exactly one year ago I awoke to my neighbor playing an Irish drinking song on his bagpipes. His annual tradition. The sun shined through my window. I could never have imagined how this year would progress and how different my life would be one year later.
From Bainbridge to Paris to Iceland to Brinnon to Germany to San Fransisco to Allyn to Vancouver to Chablis to Portland to Healdsburg. To planning weddings. To attending weddings. To fried chicken parties. To evenings at Full Pull and happy hours at Kate’s. To staying at home for Thanksgiving. To game nights to two-poles. From Joule to Starfire to Leon de Lyon to the Madison Park Conservatory to Vito’s to Benoit to Shiro’s to Parc des Princes to the van ride from Colmar to Obernai along the Alsatian wine trail. 2012 has been one hell of a ride.
Fatima asked me how we could have such personal conversations even though we had met just hours ago. I said, “It’s because we will never see each other again.” I may never see Fatima again but I hope to see you all soon. It is easy for us to get wrapped up in our lives and never make time for those people who shaped us to be the person we are today. It is easy to take all of our tomorrows for granted. But we must live life to the fullest and cherish every day. Life is too short for anything else. And if you see some tourist at the Seattle Art Museum, wandering lonely through the exhibits, stop them and ask them how they like it because you never know what might happen.
To everyone happy New Year!