The cliche thing to say is that some chapters of your life end, some take new and interesting twists and turns and don't forget the new beginnings. So it is a new year..., and let me tell you 2010 was a straight up brutal year, and I don't mean this as in the you had a bummer of a year, you got in a car accident, you got in a fight with your friends and family. No, this was by far the worst year of my life. This isn't meant to be a rant about how bad the year was, but more of a benchmark upon which future years can be compared. As it goes, I will hopefully be able to look back and say "this year was not that bad, in fact it was good and I am thankful for all of the eventful and uneventful nights." Just for a little perspective on how bad a year it was, so if you don't know me that well here is the short, well meant to be short, synopsis of what has transpired.
My year started off with a bang it was just February and my last living grandparent died, which was a hard pill to swallow by itself. Not to mention she was the last true patriarch of the family, but she was also the glue that held us all together. One doesn't realize the charisma of such a person until this person is missing and everything that once was taken for granted is lost. This old lady was maybe not the nicest old lady or the ideal grandmother, but she provided a gathering place not because she provided a home for us to hold our holiday gatherings, but because no matter where you were in the world you always came home to see grandma. This is not just some small family gathering it was a place for all of the aunts, uncles, in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews to gather forget their differences and enjoy the holiday regardless of the emotional climate prior to the gathering. The real significance of this hit me on Christmas day when after experiencing a very tradition rich, family oriented Christmas with Lauren we left go to make an evening appearance at my parents new condo. I thought to myself, this will be her first Christmas with my family I hope everything goes over well and when we walked in the door on Christmas evening and my family was half asleep and barely whispered "hello, merry Christmas." Grandmother would be rolling in her grave, she was always the first one to make sure you were warmly greeted with a "Come give your Grandma a hug!" And to make sure your belly was full no matter what hour you arrived. There isn't much more to say about that other than holidays will never be the same again you will be dearly missed Cecelia Lorenzen.
After making a decently respectable recovery winter turned to spring and I eagerly anticipated returning to school and making exciting changes in my freshly four-years removed from college, monotonous life. I had been narrowed my choices down to some pretty competitive schools and received acceptance letters from most, but not all. Now to the adult and responsibility part of going to school, paying for it! I had come to the harsh reality that loans would become my best/worst friend and at this point I didn't care about how much or where I would be going, because i thought to myself, "I knew it would have to be better than here." Well it turns out if you actually get a decent job like you are expected to with a college degree it becomes increasingly difficult to pay for school if you had not saved a lot of money. Hooray adulthood and hooray short-lived success! You live and learn right?
So the despair of being stuck in this at what I had considered small-time, one-trick-pony of a Midwestern city I decided to make new friends, explore and rediscover the culture that was to be found in Columbus, Ohio. This lead me to a small group of friends who I had known, but not really that well to start a biking group called "Ride or Die." Not only did this help me explore the city, rediscover forgotten gems, but it lead me to the saying of "Sandlot Summer." The perfect slogan to be used in association with turning this year around. It was a maximize your fun, no holding back, act like a kid, stay out late, do anything and everything you had ever wanted and more importantly no boyfriends or girlfriends to hold you back. This is great!!! I thought I never wanted to be married, have kids, settle down. I was just going to be me until the end of time and I was perfectly OK with that. Or so I thought. But what happens when you put 12-15, young, 20-somethings in a group, and hormones coupled with warm sweaty summer nights that generally last far too long for anyone's good. That adorable friend that turns into a crush, which slowly becomes something more and then before you know it you are in a relationship. All is well though, because that is just what happens in the summer. Ride or Die turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done since moving to Columbus, after all I reignited my passion for biking and found love. And this was the sort of love that takes time to develop, doesn't always consist of smooth sailing, but when there is passion it is all consuming. As all of this live life to the max summer was going on I realize that this may be the girl that I have been trying to find. She is amazingly beautiful, insanely smart, very witty, makes you laugh until you are crying, likes all the same things you do, finish your sentences, know everything you think, once in a life time catch! I was over the moon for this girl! This is great again, the year is finally turning around, 2010 rocks, right! Wrong. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed every second of this relationship and earnestly thought it was the one for the ages. But as it turns out (I am stealing this I know. I apologize, but it fits pretty well in my opinion) and as it is titled, "Painted cakes do not satisfy hunger." Unfortunately as it went I was the painted cake, meaning painted cakes just aren't the real thing. They only look like, seem like, act like and appear like the real thing. If you are seeking the truth, freedom (the true food) and in this case, the satisfying feeling of love and you find a painted cake sitting in front of you this is pretty much judgment day for any serious relationship. So the little painted cake that could, survived far past his expiration date and became very seriously involved in what may have been too short of time. We all know what happens next, hearts are broken, lives are torn apart, etc.. sad break-up story. So not only was their breaking of the rule of no boyfriends or girlfriends, curbing of max fun in a trade off for romance, the notion of sandlot summer was ultimately forgotten. More living, more learning.
The most destructive, devastating and dream shattering thing that happened in 2010, which is also the most difficult to talk about is the tragic death of one of my best friend's Ian C. Huffman. Now the loss of any best friend is at best the one of the worst days of your life, but this was the kid that as a seven year old you go over to his house to play RBI Baseball on Sega and realize you have the same birthday. You play sports with in high school and become his mentor. Some how amazingly wind up at the same university, with the same exact major and the have same life-long ambitions. This was the one person of all of your friends who you felt that you had that same connection with who you could talk to about anything, was always there for you, would be there to convince you weren't wasting your potential with too much late night drinking by debating philosophical issues with you at parties. This was not just your best friend this is the guy who would call you out when you were making lousy choices or call you out to rib you in good fun even when you were making good choices. He was your birthday twin who would get kicked out of any bar with you at a moments notice. (Note: this generally happened every birthday we spent together.) The good-hearted kid willing to go the extra mile for you at moments notice. And of all of the things Ian was Ian was the person who kept our friends together. Today we no longer have the raging parties we used to, because he is not there to encourage the elder friends to be young at heart. We no longer debate the most preposterous arguments until late at night. We even struggle to write each other emails or give that thoughtful phone call to keep up with one another. This tragedy brought a lot of us to a very dark place, but there is something good it also brought us. The memory of a best friend and the lesson that life is unpredictable.
So next time I am so filled with joy and I belt out a unscripted "SANDLOT SUMMER!" I will remember this year and surely it will remind me that this year changed me profoundly, made me reflect on my accomplishments and take stock in my ambitions. This was truly a year to remind yourself "suck the marrow from life," because it is unpredictable and in the end every man dies alone.