31 Day Writing Challenge Day 26: “How you have changed in the past year”
I usually reserve reminiscing and reflecting for birthdays or New Year’s Eve. But, in light of today’s topic, it’s time to think about the past year.
On Saturday night, I stood in a group of friends drinking a mini bottle of Chardonnay and preparing to bid farewell to our friend who is headed to grad school tomorrow. I sent that grad school friend an email earlier that day and one of the things I told him was that “It’s hard to believe that at the beginning of this year, I didn’t even know you.”
A year ago, I was finishing up a work stint in Texas and getting ready to head back to the East Coast. In Texas, I spent a hell of a lot of time alone. I learned how to quiet my mind and enjoy my own company, something I needed after a somewhat tumultuous launch into adulthood. But, I was ready to get closer (geographically and emotionally) to the friends and family I left in the DMV sixteen months before right after I graduated.
Things were not exactly the same when I returned, because, simply put, people change. Things change. Places change. Nothing is ever precisely how you left it. I miscalculated that I could jump right back into my former routine and inner circle of friends, blind to the fact that sixteen months shifts a lot of shit. And, that stretch of time does not only change the things you left. It also changes you in ways that you don’t always realize.
I had an undulant start back on the East Coast. There was a new circle of friends. I lived in Virginia which wasn’t exactly right down the street from the rest of my people. I had to reset my expectations, rebuild some of my friendships, and stay true to the person I had become during my sixteen months away. I had to still be OK opting out of a night out in favor of curling up on my couch and watching Fashion Police. What can I say? Once a grandma, always a grandma.
But, somehow, I adjusted. That is why on Saturday night I could look at someone who, as of January, I hardly knew and call him a friend. Because, that new circle of friends took me in. That new circle of friends is the same circle that sat in the front row of Busboys and Poets on Thursday night rooting me on. Yes, people change. Things change. Places change. Nothing is ever precisely how you left it. But, maybe life is much better that way.
Perhaps the most significant thing I’ve learned over the past year is the importance of investment–both in yourself and the people around you. As of a year ago, this blog was a budding idea. Now, it has become one of my life’s precious stones. It is a space I make an investment in, and every day I see the pay off. It’s sort of like chipping away at a brick wall with a chisel. But, eventually, you’ll tear shit up.
I’ve learned you also have to invest in the people around you. Invest in their stories. Invest in their journeys. Remember the details. Don’t just listen, but actually hear them. To borrow a cliché, it was Oprah who said, “People just want to be heard.” But, that’s really all each of us asks for.