January: I begin the New Year with a vicious hangover left over from the most disastrous date of my life on December 30. I vow never to drink again, a vow that lasts for six days. Having quit my job over in November, I desperately search for my replacement. I find her. I buy a ticket to Rome. I make out with a stranger who reminds me so much of my high school boyfriend that I call him "Sean" the entire time.
Song: "Twentysomething," Jamie Cullum
February: I celebrate my twenty-third birthday with friends from high school, college and real life. I go home, where my mother tries to convince me that backpacking through Europe by myself is not wise. She fails. I fly to Rome. I eat lots of pasta, drink lots of red wine and absinthe, see countless cathedrals and priceless works of art. I get really homesick while doing laundry in an old monastery in Verona. I go to Austria, where I switch to Steigl, injure my knee hiking and meet some really cool Americans who also know all the words to The Sound of Music. I see both the Vienna Opera and The Killers in an abandoned industrial slaughterhouse in a 24-hour period. I go to Prague, get a massive black eye and decide I do not care for Eastern Europe.
Song: "Indie Rock and Roll" The Killers
March: I fall in love with Munich and consider staying forever. I make myself leave Munich, go to Denmark and decide to keep traveling after all. My money runs low and I eat nothing but rolls, doner kebabs and beer for eight days. I visit the Van Gogh Museum on a space cake trip and somehow wind up modeling necklaces for a crowd of Japanese tourists at the nearby diamond museum. I do impolite things in a park with Jan the Flying Dutchman. I celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Ireland, wander around Paris with my mother and watching the sunset over the Mediterranean in Barcelona. I get repeatedly pickpocketed and robbed, and eventually decide to not let myself get too freaked out because how often does one get to backpack Europe?
Song: "Transatlanticism," Death Cab for Cutie
April: I return home to Washington with a bag full of filthy hiking socks and the kind of hangover that destroys empires. I catch up with friends and discover that not a whole lot has changed since I left, but that I am a totally different person. I temp at my roommate's firm, look for a full-time job, discover the Nats and suddenly find myself in A Relationship. I start EJ Takes Life.
Song: "I'd Rather Dance" Kings of Convenience
May: The Urban Family goes to New Orleans. We dance to great music, consume shocking amounts of Hurricanes and have no idea how lucky we are to see her as she was. I watch Tom Cruise go batshit crazy on Oprah, blog about it and get a job blogging about TV. I visit my Boston relatives, bond with the children of my cousins and realize it's not so much that my aunt hates me but that she has no idea what to do with me. I get a job. I quit the blogging on TV gig.
Song: "Feeding the Angels" Lori McKenna
June: I become a working stiff. I see a ton of concerts with the guy who is my now my boyfriend. I have a giant fight with one of my roommates that was a long time coming and decide to move out.
Song: "Fire, Fire" M.I.A
July: I move to my fabulous new place and it's for the best for everyone. It gets motherfucking hot. My boyfriend and I go to Michigan to meet my family and he dumps me a week after we get home. I get very, very angry.
Song: "Passionate Kisses" Mary Chapin Carpenter
August: I start playing kickball. I adopt Sadie. I audition for a play and they actually cast me. I get promoted. Even though I'm buzzing with activity, I feel far more lonely than when I was alone on a continent where I didn't know a soul. Hurricane Katrina hits and I actually stop thinking about myself for five minutes.
Song: "Vienna" Billy Joel
September: I start classes for my masters in history and quickly decide I don't want a masters in history, at least not from this university. I start to date the first in a series of ludicrously lame guys. I barely see all my old friends because I spend every night studying, dating lame guys or singing show tunes with strangers.
Song: "Everyone's a VIP To Someone" The Go! Team
October: I stalk movie stars in my neighborhood and by the office. No one gets my Halloween costume, but they all appreciate the cat ears. My mother and I have one of our New York weekends. We see shows, walk scores of blocks and I'm reminded just how lucky I am to have been raised by her and my father. I freak out about having a sex scene and finally get over myself.
Song: "Sun and Moon" Mae
November: The show opens. The show rocks. I have my personal second-best performance of my life the night all my college friends come. The show eats the entire month, save Thanksgiving in central Michigan with some of the more migrane-inducing individuals in our family and a Lutheran bridal shower. Out of nowhere, work suddenly gets really, really bad. I meet a whole bunch of DC bloggers, and they all rawk.
Song: "Company" Stephen Sondheim
December: I start looking for another job. I write a really mediocre paper and finally understand I'm not ready to be in school just yet. Jen visits DC and we agree that, obnoxiously enough, our mother was right when she said that a sister will get you like nobody else can. I go to our cabin for Christmas and do absolutely nothing for seven days. Our family celebrates the wedding of a dear friend (who happens to be two years younger than me) and I watch her pledge her life to someone with such silly tenderness it brings tears to my cynical eyes that have seen too much this year. I promise to myself that in the New Year I will have realistic expectations about my career, friends and men, but that I will keep my eyes open for all things extraordinary.
Song: "Come On! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance!" Sufjan Stevens
Happy New Year, friends.