For the last several years, I’ve kept a wooden bowl in my house, where I deposit receipts, papers, trinkets, and sea shells and sea glass throughout the year. And then on the last day of the year, I take them all out and sort through them, remembering the good and the bad, the hard things, and the wonderful things, that happened. It’s time for the 2016 edition.
There’s no way around the hardest thing, the one that has colored the rest of my year: 2016 was the year my Dad died. So many times this year, I have wanted to tell him something or show him a photo or call him and say “guess where I am now” and every time, it makes an ache in me so deep that my heart literally aches in my chest. I’m an adult orphan, no parents to back me up any more, and while it feels a bit weird to write that at 61, I say it to honor the truth that my parents were huge supporters and encouraged me to do whatever I wanted with my life, and I miss that so very much.
The second biggest event this year, and a much happier one, was retiring from full-time high-tech work. I walked away in August, done with the stress and politics of being a project manager. I did enjoy the business travel, though, and will miss seeing Dublin (and my friend Susie) on a regular basis because it’s a lovely city (and she is a great deal of fun to hang out with).
The third biggest event of 2016 was getting my Alto travel trailer and becoming a vagabond.
No home now, except the one I tow behind me. I have collected a lot of campsite reservation tags this year, so many that I stopped saving them or my bowl would have been nothing but tags.
Before I left Seattle, I did enjoy some good times with friends, from dim sum at Top Gun (more than once!), seeing the city from the Space Needle, and riding the ubiquitous ferries. I enjoyed living in Seattle, but I was ready to see new places.
On to the shells. I spent most of the last four months (October to December) at or near beach campgrounds and collected a shell at my favorite spots. Turns out I have a lot of favorite spots.
Some beaches didn’t have shells, but they did have interesting remnants and I think I liked them better than the whole shells because they showed me that broken things have a special beauty of their own.
Sea glass has been a constant in my bowl for years, and 2016 was no exception. From the odd bits way up on the Olympic Peninsula to the fertile sands of Fort Bragg and the familiar beaches at Aptos, I managed to pick up a fair amount of pieces this year.
Since I moved into the Alto, I’ve kept some of my favorite things in a tiny wooden bowl that I keep on the kitchen counter. It has agates, glass, shells, and a bit of sand, all reminders of the beaches I have spent so much time at this year.
Now I lay my 2016 memories to rest: good and bad, hard and wonderful, calming and challenging.
…Though I lack the art to decipher it, no doubt the next chapter in my book of transformations is already written. I am not done with my changes.