Thursday, December 29, 2016

Moments 2016

For a few years now, I've ended each year with a post highlighting the moments that made the year what it was--not just the happy moments, but the sad ones, the wild ones, and everything in between.

I could wax poetic about 2016, or I can take the advice I got from Professor Metzger at Chico State in 2000, in a writing class I took. "Be concise."

So, yeah. 2016?

It was a doozy.

A Grown-Up Moment

Of course, the biggest thing to hit my blog this year (and, you know, my life) was the whole home-buying adventure. On July 28, I took possession of a two-bedroom, two-bath condo and all of the maintenance, surprises, and guinea pig poo that came with it.

I knew going in that this particular home would need some elbow grease...and some money. But on my salary, this was an excellent opportunity to get in the market, and so I bit the bullet, signed the papers (so many papers), had a few panic attacks along the way, and become a homeowner.

Have I had moments where I wished I'd rented instead? Certainly. But this is home, and it's mine. I like it here.

A Moment of Pure, Overwhelming Joy

The picture at the right was taken from the window of a Virgin Atlantic San Francisco-London flight right as the rear landing gears hit the ground. I was already crying--those quick, unstoppable tears that just come out no matter what you do. As the plane jolted to the ground and began its quick slow down, I cried, and I smiled, and I celebrated coming "home" again.

Eleven years is a long time to be gone, and goodness knows I missed dear England in those years. It didn't matter that it was the middle of winter, that I would spend the entire trip bundled up in a fleece-lined coat. No worries that jet lag would keep me from getting a full night of sleep the entire time I was there--I had too much to do, too many people to see.

And what a wonderful trip it was! There were a lot of happy tears, a lot of joyful reunions, and I was overjoyed to find that even though I am very much a California Girl, I'm also still an Honorary Brit.

A Proud Moment

Back in our Chico days, my friend Sarah had a baby--a wee tiny girl named Julia. Somewhere in her photo albums is a picture of nineteen-year-old Meg, holding two-day-old Julia and marveling at how perfect her tiny little finger nails were. She was six pounds and change then, so tiny I was afraid I might break her just by breathing.

This year, a young woman--now taller than me--graduated from high school, and I was so honored to get one of the few coveted tickets for the ceremony. Julia has grown into a smart, kind, awesome woman who will do wonderful things in this world. Sarah has done an wonderful job raising her to be compassionate and kind.

Pardon me as I tear up a bit.

A Moment of Awe

One lovely weekend morning, I was reading on Mom and Dad's patio, enjoying a cool breeze and a cup of tea, when I heard the tell-tale buzz of hummingbird wings.

Mom's garden is attractive to hummers, so it didn't surprise me to have one buzz by--what surprised me was that she landed so near to me, on one of the wind chimes.

It took me a moment to realize she'd landed on a nest. 

We dubbed her Henrietta, and we watched anxiously, from a respectful distance, as she faithfully guarded her tiny nest. Before long, we could see her poking her long beak into the nest, and then, finally, her babies grew big enough that we could see their wee beaks sticking out.

When the last one left the next, we were all a little sad...and yet happy to know that they were out, making the world a more beautiful, amazing place.

A Moment for Tea

When I left England in August 2004, I couldn't quite find room for my favorite purple mug in my luggage, so I left it at Kathy and Derek's.

"You can drink tea from it when you come visit us!" Kathy said, as I put it back in the cupboard.

When Derek offered me tea on my visit in February, I wondered, in the back of my mind, if they'd forgotten...but he turned around with a smile and held up a familiar purple mug. "Will this do?"

Tears sprang to my eyes. "Yes! Yes, that will do."

It's still there, in their cupboard. I'll drink from it again...this time, it won't take so long to get back.

A Moment to Love Again
Meeting Archie. 

When I lost Millie, I knew that I'd adopt again--but living with Mom and Dad, it wasn't good timing. Bella and Duchess were getting older, and bringing young cats into the house would be upsetting to them.

So I waited.

Then I bought Casa Meg and...waited some more. One does need to be settled in first, and each month brought on more financial obligations.

But finally, this month, the timing was right. The money was available. And the universe presented me with two beautiful boys in need of a new forever home. So Archie and Popcorn came home with me, and I immediately fell in love.

Millie would approve.

A Moment to Clash
"But what if you want to wear green?" asked one of my parents' friends at a birthday dinner for my mom. Two days before, I'd had half my hair died purple, and I loved it.

"Then I suppose I'll clash!" I said with a grin, and we all moved on to something else.

I turned thirty-eight this year, and I suppose I'm tired of feeling like I "shouldn't" do something. When I first mentioned the possibility of purple hair, many friends immediately asked, "What will your school say?"

I have a colleague with colored hair already and there is nothing in the employee handbook about dyed hair. I wear my hair in a bun a lot at work anyway just to keep it out of my face (and if you worked in our old classrooms on a hot day, you would, too), so after the first week or so, no one really noticed or cared that the VAPA teacher had purple hair. But I knew it was there.

I cut all the purple off in October because my hair was getting too long, but I can't wait to color it again in the next few months.

A Moment of Fangirling 

My England trip was quick--just five nights and six whirlwind days of fun--but I did manage to make it to the towns of Battle and Bexhill-on-Sea, where three-quarters of my favorite band, Keane, spent their youth.

Because of time, I wasn't even sure on Thursday morning that I would even go to Bexhill, but in the end, seeing the Sovereign Light Cafe, made famous by a song of the same name, was irresistible. What surprised me, however, was how excited I was when we came upon the building itself--a tiny little seaside cafe that isn't anything particularly amazing...though it is the star of a music video. Daryl and I stopped in for a cup of tea and some biscuits, watching the English Channel and looking at the pictures of Keane on the wall. I'm glad I made the time to go.

Moments of Friendship

From local friends to friends far away, from people I see regularly to people I see almost never, but keep in touch with via social life is enriched by the people I have in it.

In February, I got to see a long-time British friend, Libby, and it was marvelous to catch up in person. We had dinner at a Moroccan restaurant, finished off a bottle of wine, and chatted until we realized that we were the reason the restaurant wasn't quite closing yet. It's lovely to go back after all that time and find that friendships don't just end because you leave a place.

And of course, there was a new Duck Lady meeting, when I met Sarah at the train station and we started off on a day of adventures in London. We are probably the only people to ever take a Platform 9 & 3/4 picture with rubber duckies.

"They can be our Patronuses!" exclaimed Sarah. "Or is it Patroni?"

"That's a good question..." I replied. "But YES OF COURSE WE MUST DO IT!"

My life is richer for having Sarah nearby. We met through a mutual friend in our freshman year at Chico, and grew closer in our sophomore and junior years as she started the adventure of being a mother, and I experienced the events that would send me running to London for a semester. We mostly do fun stuff, but this year has also seen her help me clean and paint the new condo. If that's not friendship, I don't know what is.

And of course, there's Summer, who ended her 2016 by moving to Arizona. I am, of course, happy for her and Ben, but sad for me, because I just won't see her as often. But of course, being us, we're already planning for a springtime adventure, which will likely see me heading to Arizona for a quick road trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon.

We had one last tea date at Linde Lane in Dixon before she left, and we finally got to sit in the tea cup table.

And I have to shout-out to Matt, who was, of course, my trainer, but is also a friend. He fixed Sylvie's broken side mirror after I broke it backing out of the garage, and he helped me move my piano from my parents' house to the new condo. Just a few days ago, he put up the laundry closet doors for me. In return, he's accepted homemade tacos and goodies from England, but honestly, I feel like he's helped me with more than I really have the right to ask for from any of my friends.

And...Cat Moments

Popcorn on the left, Archie on the right.
Oh, Archie and Popcorn.

We're not even at three full weeks yet, but already, I love these boys and can't imagine not having them. They are bright-eyed and curious, but also incredibly sweet and given to long naps with each other, and even better, with me. Having a bonded pair is lovely, because while I'm at work, they're good company for each other, easing any separation anxiety. I look forward to many more moments with them as they continue settling into my home...which, frankly, they've pretty much already done.

The best part is that I'm calmer having them around, which has been great for my anxiety battle.

2016 was a difficult year in a lot of ways--celebrity deaths, an incredibly stressful U.S. Presidential election, and an incredibly stressful "Brexit" vote in England. I've read stories of the civilian deaths in Aleppo, of terrorist (domestic and foreign) acts everywhere, and we all put up with months of ugly, ugly campaigning that culminated in a contentious Election Day.

Friends have faced their own ups and downs, and I myself finally went back on meds for anxiety because my go-to response to everything was to just sit down and cry. I was constantly on edge. I went to the dentist last week and there's even the beginnings of signs of it affecting my teeth (grinding, clenching). It's no way to live, and I'm learning ways to handle it, to not let it take over my life. Working out helps--has always helped--but it's not a cure in and of itself.

Still, among all this, 2016 had it's great moments--the stand-outs, of course, being my London trip, buying a home, and adopting the boys. Anxiety aside, I am in excellent health, my parents are doing well, and I have a good job that I enjoy. Here's to 2017 bringing more moments, big and small, that make life the Wild and Absolutely True Adventure that it is.

No comments: