Jan 1, 2009


At the dawn of 2008 I looked at the new year in front of me and saw 366 days [it was a leap year] playing out differently than they actually did. I thought I would be engaged. I thought I would be living in my own miraculously affordable studio somewhere in Santa Cruz. I thought I would be enrolled part-time in Western Seminary's MFT program. I thought a thousand other things I no longer recall because as 2008 progressed I felt upside down, inside out, and backward--every direction but right side up and forward facing.

Here are the highlights of 2008, and by highlights I do not necessarily mean bright, shiny, and happy. I mean significant, transformative, and necessary.
PRESIDENTS' DAY WEEKEND: I brought my significant other with me to Portland to meet and spend more time with people I believed he would one day soon call his family. Instead of ending the weekend together, excited about what lay ahead of US, I ended the weekend by separating myself from him and and returning to Santa Cruz as a ME instead of a WE. Erica met me at the airport and before we'd spent even an hour together she asked me when I'd be moving away from Santa Cruz. The blunt honesty, love, and truth present in that evening helped me make sense of what lay ahead and assured me that I had at least one person who understood me and what were my inevitable next steps.

ANNE LAMOTT, LIZ GILBERT, AND THE HAIRCUT: My mom, her best friend, my cousin Lizzy, my aunt Margie, Erica, and I were all able to meet up and listen to Anne Lamott and Liz Gilbert speak one night in April. Prior to listening to the wonderful Anne and Liz, Margie, Lizzy, Erica and I met up and had lunch and I chopped off a large portion of my golden locks. The importance of each of those relationships, and the outward symbol of change that new haircut conveyed helped me survive my last month in Santa Cruz. My heart wasn't ready to let go, but the time with each of them and the constant visual reminder that my life had changed course helped in the healing.

FROM SJC TO PDX: Just recalling the experience of standing in the security line, looking over my shoulder at Erica and Craig as they watched me leave makes me cry. Willingly leaving friends who became, who still are, family, is one of the hardest things I've ever done. Leaving not because I necessarily wanted to, but because it was what life required if I wanted to move forward, was terrifying.

LETTERS: The written correspondence between people in Santa Cruz and me has been wonderful, hard, and healing. Their letters always seemed to arrive at just the right [though sometimes it seemed wrong] time. Their letters remind[ed] me that the people I left behind in Santa Cruz are here to stay.

GRES AND GRAD SCHOOL APPLICATIONS: I have written more than a few words on the process of studying for, worrying about, and taking the GREs. I have spent more than a few hours writing and editing my applications for Portland State and the University of Oregon. Both processes terrified me, and the completion of each was encouraging and still more terrifying. With applications complete and in the hands of the appropriate committees, I await acceptance and rejection, unsure of which I will receive and hoping and praying only for the former.

The year 2008 has been more than I ever imagined. It has been a hard year. But it has also been a good year. It has been a year of trust, faith, and perseverance. I could not have made it through 2008 alone. Even if by some miracle I had been able to, I would not have wanted to do it without the friends and family who have walked alongside me, pushed me forward, and guided me when my eyes were squeezed shut out of fear or blinded by tears.

I don't know what I did to deserve any of you, and I cannot imagine my life without you. In alphabetical order, because it would be impossible to organize you all any other way [except perhaps by date of acquaintance]
CLARE: Thank you for reminding me to trust myself. Thank you for reminding me that I shine.

ERICA: Thank you for picking me up from the airport. Thank you for letters, phone calls, and long distance love that makes it feel like you're sitting right next to me. Thank you for being unafraid of walking down the paths of "what if." Thank you for creatively and spiritually inspiring me each and every day.

HEATHER: Thank you for our VCOCs. Thank you for your intellectual inspiration and encouragement. Thank you for wanting to wait to visit me until I have my own place. Thank you for getting me.

KITZ: Thank you for the phone calls and the phone tag. Thank you for being brave. Thank you for our conversation as we walked along the beach this summer. Thank you for calling last night.

LIZZY: Thank you for every single text message, phone call, and kick in the ass. Thank you for tough love and gentle honesty. Thank you for pointing out my excessive use of passive voice and reminding me to confidently communicate who I am.

REBS: Thank you for your friendship. I did not expect that moving away would bring us closer. Thank you for sitting through the whole wonderfully rainy Avett Brothers show and for loving every minute of it. Thank you for asking the hard questions and actually wanting to know the answers.

SARE: Thank you for moving back to Portland at just the right time. Thank you for always wanting me to spend the night. Thank you for almost 27 years of friendship. Thank you for holding my hand, picking out my haircuts, and setting the bar high by marrying someone so wonderful.

SISTER: Thank you for holding my hand at the funeral. Thank you for coming to the beach. Thank you for being honest. There is no way I could ever be disappointed with you.

YONERS: Thank you for all the walks. They got me through those last months at TLC, seriously. Thank you for pig talk, heehars, kicking my butt at Cribiage, and being brave enough to move away from the familiar. You inspire me.

Thank you 2008 for kicking my ass and forcing me forward even when I was scared shitless.


lizzyashby&davidaaron said...

Thank you for finally just being HALEY.. the cousin/sister/best friend that tried to run away when she got to college but has been metomorphosizing (real word?) into an even truer more beautiful version of herself (and has been single) for almost a year now...

Welcome home

cy said...

what a year, huh?

I am so thankful for you Hales; thank you for your kind words.

2009 is here and I am sitting here in rainy Seattle wondering what it will hold. All I know is that each year brings some kind of growth, whether we enjoy the process or not, but through all of it, how much sweeter is it to experience it with one another.

Bring on the '09! I love you,

Haley said...

Liz: you're welcome. And no, technically metomorphosizing is not a real word, but I say we make it one. I can't believe it's been almost a year....

Sares: It has been quite a year to be sure. You are so welcome for the kind words, you deserve them and many more. Here's to growth of all kinds. Love, love, and more love!

erica said...

i loved reading each and every word of this. you are more beautiful than you know. thank you for thanking me. you are such a gift.