Since I haven’t exactly figured out what I’m going to be doing here on a regular basis, I thought a good way to kick things off (for a second time) would be to recap 2010. I’m usually pretty bored by these posts, so I promise I won’t hold it against you if you find this too mundane to read all the way through. It’s more for my personal record and introspection than for your entertainment anyway.
It would be melodramatic (a word that always makes me think of my friend Reese) to say that 2010 was a difficult year. I also think it would be a prematurely selfish statement to make. The truth is, 2010 was really just another year. It brought some emotional struggles, some professional struggles, some relational struggles, some spiritual struggles, some financial struggles, and some family struggles. And there were days that I cried pretty hard in 2010. But, as they say, time heals all wounds, and when I look back at the previous year, even though I’m glad to have it under my belt and have welcomed 2011 with open arms, I can also honestly say that it was a good year filled with good memories.
And thus, I give you:
10 Things I Want to Remember about 2010:
1) Joining a book club.
For a couple months at the end of 2009 and something like the first half of 2010, I was part of a book club at the library near the house I was renting. It met once a month and was a mystery book club, which meant that we read a lot of books I never would’ve picked up otherwise. I didn’t enjoy all of the books, but I always enjoyed the discussion sessions. I was the youngest participant there; it was otherwise full of retired old ladies, and they were a hoot. I had never been part of a book club before, and I was proud of myself for getting out and doing something new after just moving to the area. I stopped going when I moved across town and didn’t want to drive 20 minutes to get there, and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a comparable gathering at any of the libraries that are close to me now. But Georgia, Hazel, Dorothy, and all the others are people I’ll never forget.
2) Buying my own home.
If this isn’t an accomplishment, then I gotta tell ya – I don’t know what is. On March 26 of last year, I was handed the keys to a house, along with the words, “Congratulations. You are now a homeowner.” There are no words to describe how I felt as I drove away from the bank that day, knowing I had not only found my dream house but had actually purchased it. And you know what? I was swindled out of $40 the first night I spent in my new house (I let some guy convince me to pay him to pick up some sticks in my yard), and even that is a fond memory. (Especially since I’ve heard the retelling multiple times from my coworkers, who have probably ranked that story in their top 5 of ridiculously amusing things that have happened to me over the past year.) And no, the house isn’t perfect or without frustrations and flaws, but the simple fact that it belongs to me is enough to make me forgive (most of) its other shortcomings.
3) Painting my fireplace orange.
It’s no secret that I love the color orange. And the first thing I did as far as putting my mark on my new home was to paint the fireplace orange. And not just any orange but a very intense orange that is sometimes a little much, even for me. (Why don’t paint colors ever come out the way they look on the samples?) Not everybody likes the shade of orange I chose for my fireplace or even the fact that it is orange at all, but it’s one characteristic of my house that, when people see it, they say, “Yep. That’s Audra, all right.” And I love that.
4) Watching my brother walk down the aisle.
I didn’t think this would be an emotional event for me. After all, it seemed like just a formality for my brother to marry the girl he’d been dating for ten years. But on the day of the wedding, when I realized that I finally had the sister I’d been wishing for my entire life, I felt an unexpected swell of joy. My brother and I had a running joke about which of us could avoid marriage the longest, and I told him that he forfeited, but I don’t think he was too disappointed about it. My mom made the comment recently, “I think Cary was surprised by how much he enjoyed his own wedding day,” and I was surprised by the amount of beauty, profundity, and insight into my brother’s personality and character that simple statement gave me. My brother and his wife (my sister-in-law!) have maybe been in a relationship for more than ten years now, but he has grown up a lot since they first started dating, and I’m so proud of him, and I have so much respect for him.
5) Visiting my relatives Uncle Phil and Aunt June in Ohio.
When life hands you lemons, make lemonade, so they say. Well, this summer, I got handed the professional lemon of spending nine days in SmallTown, Ohio, my task being to represent my company and sell its products at a youth event. Sitting in a booth and being surrounded by rowdy teenagers was not my idea of a fun summer vacation. But as it turned out, my grandmother’s sister June and her husband, Phil, live in the same town where I was exiled this summer, and not only did they express an interest in wanting to spend some time with me while I was there – they opened their home to me and let me stay with them for the full nine days, which was an extraordinary act of hospitality that saved me from having to sleep in a college dorm (ick). They gave me my own bedroom and bathroom; they cooked for me; they took me out for dinner; they pointed me to an idyllic running path that I spent my early mornings on; they played games with me; and they served me dessert every single night. That week in Ohio ended up being the best week of my summer. In the wake of my grandma’s death in November of 2009, spending time in the presence of her sister – who looks like my grandma, talks like my grandma, and, in many ways, acts just like my grandma – was a salve to a part of my soul I hadn’t realized still needed healing. I ended that trip not wanting to leave Ohio, not wanting to leave Phil and June, and wondering when I would have the privilege of seeing them again. I still hope it’s soon.
6) Visiting Cedar Point, the roller coaster capital of the world.
I don’t even know how long Cedar Point had been #1 on my list of amusement parks I must visit. At least ten years. At least. I finally got to go this summer, and it was everything I had hoped it would be. My only regret was that the sheer number of roller coasters at the park prevented me from ride-repeating, but that day may just have been the highlight of my year. Screaming and flying across the tracks, standing in line with my cousins and aunt and uncle, laughing all day long, and getting soaking wet on the most ridiculous water ride ever invented – these are memories I will cherish for a long time.
7) Flying to Connecticut to meet and support Estevan Vega at his book release party.
Estevan was a dream author for me as an editor at Tate Publishing. Not only was he a joy to work with; his book was a fantastic read and so much fun to edit. Getting to attend his release party and see the fruits of all his intense labor – a very small portion of it having been my effort too – gave me a job-satisfaction high the likes of which I had never experienced. Besides that, it was worth it just to hear him call me out from onstage and publicly thank me for coming all the way from Kansas City to support him.
8) Running a half marathon.
I still can’t entirely believe that I actually did this. Nor can I entirely believe that I’ve signed up and am training for another one! Me. Audra Claire Marvin. I ran a half marathon. The reality of it is so absurd that I often have to look back through the pictures just to remind myself that I really did do it. This is perhaps my proudest accomplishment of the year. I tackled a feat I did not think I could do, and then I dominated it, shattering the goal I had set for myself to finish in 3 hours by finishing in 2 hours and 40 minutes. I think I’m going to be bragging about this accomplishment for a long time to come.
9) Writing a novel.
Okay, so I didn’t finish the novel in 2010, but I wrote 30,000 words of it, and if anything could compete with the half marathon for proudest accomplishment of the year, this would be it. Writing is my passion, and to tackle that passion with the fervor of creating two characters that have emerged with such depth as to make me feel like they are real – well, suffice it to say that it has been a lot of fun. I didn’t know I had it in me, and I’m proud of myself for having discovered it.
10) Adding Puppy Fagan to my furry family.
Acquiring a second dog (and a puppy, nonetheless) was not on my to-do list in 2010. But he swiftly melted my heart, and I’m glad I was incapable of saying no to little Fagan. He has brought such joy into my life, my parents’ lives, and all the lives of everyone who has so far had the privilege of meeting him. I’ve only had him 2 weeks so far, but already I can’t imagine life without him.
As you can see, 2010 was actually a pretty good year, and as I look back through these 10 descriptions, one word jumps out at me more often than any other: joy. It is clear that I have absolutely nothing to complain about. I’m convinced 2011 will be even better.
Happy new year.