This is my 800th blog post. It seems fitting for such a milestone to fall on a reflection piece. With that said, I would like to begin my look back at 2015 with the following thought from one of my favorite bands, Modest Mouse.
“If life's not beautiful without the pain, well I'd just rather never ever even see beauty again.”
My 2015 was dedicated to two concepts; self-care and curiosity. My 2014 is well documented by me and others, but between losing a brother, professional disappointments, and the end of a budding relationship the need to focus on my health and things that could potentially make me happier was paramount. Looking in the rear view mirror, I am more than pleased with the direction my life took in the past year. Without a doubt, the focus on my two goals helped.
My year began with the final first date I hope to ever go on. Online dating profiles are such a chore to get through. The endless reading and evaluating can get tiring. When I ran across Brandon’s profile, my curiosity went through the roof. Educated, talented, charming, not bad on the eyes… sure let’s give this a shot I thought. 12 months later, we are still together and I feel on top of the world. Through thick and thin, he has been there. I am happier and a better person for having him by my side. Even if you are unsure about where you stand on LGBT issues, surely you can afford me this feeling.
February was filled with more time spent with Brandon. On Valentine’s Day weekend, we went away for our first ever trip together. We spent four lovely days on Cannon Beach in Oregon. It was a magical trip. It was also the first time I felt potential. I felt like this relationship could go the distance. After that weekend, I decided to invest fully in the relationship with the hopes of it turning into something more. As we prepare to move in together at the end of the month, I am thrilled I did.
In May, I began my 100 Days of Happiness Challenge after reading a blog post I could not ignore. Over the next 100 days, I examined each and every day for a moment of happiness. More often than not, these moments were small or mundane. They were food, drinks with friends, or walks on Alki Beach. No matter what was going on in my head, I knew there was some happiness to be found. Since the experiment has concluded, I have found myself to be much better at recognizing the moment and giving it proper pause.
Also starting in May was another round of the Seattle International Film Festival, as well as a succession of friends visiting me from Oklahoma. Over the next six weeks, I fell deeper in love with film and I was over the moon to show my friends life in the Pacific Northwest and why this place makes me so happy. As I pulled back the curtain, the idea of this being my home became further entrenched in my mind.
After the dust cleared from the film festival and visits from my friends, Brandon and I picked up where we left off. We jumped back in by doing a hike at Mt. Rainier. It was a particularly warm day, but cruising with the windows down, listening to music, chatting, laughing, and hiking was an experience I will never forget. I was so proud to show him something I adore so purely. I am not sure he will ever go hiking with me again, but for a moment he got to see me outside of my element.
August through October was fully dedicated to Kent Youth and Family Services and our annual fundraiser, the One Thing Experience. Luckily, the focus paid off and we raised $52,000. Brandon and I still found some time to sneak down to Long Beach, California to visit some friends of mine though. Travel is another passion of mine and it was wonderful to share that with Brandon. We may have also dropped the coveted “L” word before the trip! I know, right!
November came and went. With it, my family and I had to confront the one year anniversary of my brother’s passing. It wasn’t easy and never will be, but with it I have been provided an opportunity I will cherish forever. I had the chance to focus on my own self-care and I also had the chance to keep telling Lucas’ story. With each word I write about him, there is a sense of honesty. While tragedy is never easy to discuss, its impact is lessened when I know I can help other people. So, from here on out Nov. 3rd will be dedicated to myself and writing about Lucas in hopes of helping others.
Finally, the holiday rush was upon us. Holiday party after holiday party consumed my calendar, but the highlight of the last month of the year was introducing Brandon to my family and friends back in Oklahoma. If I am being completely honest, I was nervous. Being open about my sexuality is new for everyone, including me. All the worry was in vain, though. The holidays couldn’t have gone any better. My family was welcoming, loving, and caring. I felt them wrap their wings around us in unconditional support. This guy couldn’t ask for anymore.
As the days on the 2016 calendar slowly begin to slip away, I leave you with this parting message. Invest in yourself this year. It isn’t selfish to do so. You must care for yourself before you can care for others. After 2015, I feel fully ready to do just that and my hope is that you will be able to join me.
Be good to each other,