January is always the start of a new year but this year's January actually was my fresh start, the first chapter if you will, of a book that needed the last chapter to be burned out. Spending the first week still at home in Italy, the year really started on the ninth when I had flown back to the US to begin my internship in Bellingham, Washington. Due to perfect timing, I had chosen to take an internship out of state and in a location where I was hoping to make my next permanent move to, so that I could really give myself the legitimate chance to start over. I lived in a beautiful home with two outdoor kitties while their parents traveled for three months, I rode an old, old, old mountain bike around town every chance that I could and spent more time being wet than dry; I also met some outstanding BMX riders who had blown my mind with their handwork and dedication to their private trails all the while having less and less of a good time at my internship and making plans to return to Utah. January marked the last of my therapy sessions too although I probably could have seen my therapist in Italy for the rest of my life...phenomenal individual. I was thankful for how much my family reached out to help me and for the lengths that they went to in making me feel okay again.
February was rough; by the third week in January I had already created a countdown for when I would be leaving Washington and going back to Utah...basically I was miserable. I hardly saw the sun most days, "it's raining" had the potential to mean like five different things, and I was so over having an up-the-back mud splatter lining my back after every ride. Valentine's Day was spent with a box of personal chocolates and a nice pre-roll in the legal state.
March was my month of hope, well okay let's be honest here, March is unquestionably my favorite month simply because it's my birth month, but this year it was the month that would be my last in the Pacific Northwest. Birthday donuts on the fourteenth to ring in twenty-three years of waking up everyday (thankfully). All I could do was pray that each day would go by faster than the previous one. I would begin to organize and pack and throw out things in preparation for Utah because I was beyond ready to get out. The second to last week of March, I finally worked up the courage to ask my supervisor if I could return home two weeks early due to a lack of work provided and my personal state. Luckily, he found very little argument in letting me do so and on April 1st at 4:30 am I locked my bikes to my car and got on the highway headed back to Salt Lake City.
April was a whirlwind of gratitude and disappointment; the morning after I had arrived back in Salt Lake, I took my bike and went straight to the foothills of the valley to spin my tires in chalky, dry, nasty dirty. Living at sea level had ruined my everything but I couldn't wipe the smile off my face, with the sun shining so bright, beating down on my face, shoulders and back...I was finally home. I began to really soak up this second chance I was getting in Utah. I even got a powder day on the nineteenth at Park City! I was also prescribed new medication for my anxiety during this month that would require a daily intake. After the first dosing, I was laying in bed by 5:30 that night flat on my side, staring effortlessly at the blank wall, thinking about how badly I wanted to run myself into a brick wall. That was the exact moment that I actually got a hold of my anxiety for once, either the pills would kill me or I was going to fight my way back to normality. Then the friendship that so graciously took me in and let me get back on my feet in Utah turned sour quick due to conflict of interests. It gave me the kick I needed to get moved back up to Park City though and I got a job with a local landscaping crew and moved into my new condo.
Halfway there...May was the beginning of "too hot"; the temperatures just kept climbing with each passing week, my lame shoulder finally gained proper strength back to the point that it was running better than my uninjured shoulder. I was having a blast working for the landscaping crew (two of my coworkers were professional snowboarders that I didn't know I was working with till two months in) and I was riding my bike every chance I could get. My parents flew out from Italy to come attend my college graduation on Cinco De Mayo from The University of Utah which was the biggest relief of my life (graduating that is...). It was a month of happy existence, summer drinks and warm temperatures.
June and July get to be placed together because of their high insignificance: June 2017 marked 7 years since my rape. I had to leave my job as a landscaper due to medical insurance coverage and instead took a job as a busser for a supposedly high-end distillery. Underpaid, overworked, and crying on the way home almost every night from work, I was getting into a horrible routine of eating badly and seeing my ex again. The toxicity was building again and I was feeding it the sugar it wanted.
By the time August hit, I was reaching my wits end and began looking and applying to new jobs. The stress was coming from needing a ski pass but not having the funds to pay outright for one but also needing a job that paid well and that included insurance. It was at the end of the month, after so many job applications and call backs and interviews that I finally decided to accept a job with the one company I swore I would never return to: Vail Resorts.
September was hands down the most important month of my life thus far: on September ninth, my eleven-year old family dog was hit by a car outside of our home in Italy hours before I was due to pick up my newly adopted ten-week old puppy. My morning began in hysteria, I thought that I was losing my childhood dog thousands of miles away and it was making me rethink whether or not I needed to be adopting one myself. After a few hours and an ER visit, my dog went home with lots of medication but little internal damage done. It was the luckiest situation that we could have received with how she had been hit. By that afternoon, after the chaos had settled, I got the call that Zuke (who was then Wolfman) was ready to be picked up and within minutes he was in my front seat making his first potty. Two weeks later, I began my job as a Human Resources Assistant to Park City Mountain with no idea of what to expect other than "two months of training then you'll be running your own office". It was the best training I had ever received in a workplace and after week four, everything clicked. I felt like I had finally found my niche.
October was consumed with work, quitting my second job, potty training a puppy, and losing any personal free-time I thought I would still have. Adopting Zuke placed a heavy guilt trip on my life in the sense that I felt like I couldn't spend any time away from him because it wouldn't be fair to him. Crazy dog mom, I know. For Halloween, Zuke was a Ty Beanie Baby while mom had a healthy amount to celebrate with.
When November rolled around, I was pretty dead set on trying to work that day so that I could avoid the feeling of being away from family on the holidays. This was the first year that I would not be flying home for Christmas nor seeing anyone for Thanksgiving-it was admittedly a little strange. With a half day of work under our belts, we were fed a pretty nice employee thanksgiving meal which more or less made up for the missed home-cooked meal and then I got the text from my mom: "we are coming to you for Christmas".
They say that the things we have to wait the longest for are the best reward, so here's December: I met someone who is changing every prior notion I had about men, about relationships, and about how I deserve to be treated in such a positive way that I'm having to remind myself to calm the hell down for once; my little brother flew in and we got to take a trip down to Southern Utah to see the land that our government is signing away with ease; the remainder of my family arrived just in time for not only the holidays but the best snowstorms we've seen this season so far; the Temple Christmas Lights have become an annual season traditional for myself and this year was Zuki's first year; the Zoo Lights at Hogle Zoo were disturbingly awesome (I hate zoos) but the lights were really well done. The best part about this month though has been Zuke's pure, unscripted joy for snow; that little boy's happiness has become my own. He has been the dog that I had always dreamed about: gives free kisses always, has never growled once, and has never started a fight with another soul. The number one thing I hear from strangers is "look how happy your pup is".
I sort of have this thing where I believe that my birthday marks the theme for the year ahead; my twenty-third's was expect disappointment as nothing will go as planned. I was carrying that with me since March 14th, it lingering behind every failed friendship or plan. But as this year comes to a close, I am okay with all that did not go as planned, because ultimately I am in a better place than I was a year ago and that is the most important part of this year. I'll admit that I am still taking the time to forgive the one who hurt me and robbed me of my first dog, that I am still working through the worst parts of my anxiety and how it chooses to manifest itself, and that I am still working on being a better person. This life takes patience but there is an everlasting beauty in that very process and I'm finally giving myself over to it.
Here's to 2018: write a book, upgrade the camera, move or convert the car.