Gratitude at Year’s End

I am sitting square in my youth, but at the same time, growing far above it and learning more about myself now than I ever did when I was in my early twenties and felt fresh and malleable. I really wasn’t, then, and I’m probably not even as malleable as I think I am now even. One change that’s developed in the past year or so, however, is that while before I was so ready to admit how right I was about certain things, now I feel even more ready to admit how wrong and/or inexperienced I am.

I realized this  while I was clearing out an old, personal Twitter account, deleting compromising tweets so I can use it, possibly, for more personal and family connections. I was so cocky, before, so stubborn in my beliefs and ready to be spiteful. Not saying I’m free of spite now, because I certainly still enjoy a bit of spite, but not nearly to the same degree as several years ago. I was happy to delete those tweets.

Another thing that’s developed in my mind that wasn’t there to such a degree before—my gratitude for other people. I’ve realized that I would be nothing without the rich connections I’ve built in my life, this coinciding with the fact that I’ve also been very harsh toward other people during my young lifetime and have burnt many bridges. Some of my bridge burning has been cruel, but some has been as an act of self-preservation, to remove poison from my life. I can look back, now, and discern when I was right and when I was wrong. So this leaves me, a gracious mess of harsh and cynical bite and loving cling. I’m working on softening up, being more friendly. That’s an ongoing project.

But the people I’ve known. The ways they’ve helped me grow and patched up the areas of my personality that were gaping holes. I want to be the kind of person who always recognizes a good friend, so I can keep my good friends and we can continue to help each other. There are two things in this life that seem to be very Good—and those are soul-enriching music and soul-enriching conversations with other people. If I can continue to cultivate those things, maybe I’ll have an amazing life.

Once, during an extremely foolish period, I was kicked out of my apartment by an ex-boyfriend and left to scramble, cat in my arms and a car full of my possessions, for a place to live before I started my student teaching. I was at this chaotic point in my life where I was trying to kick-off my career amidst a crew of people that were either actively exploiting me or about to leave me to build their own careers. As I was in the middle of losing my mind, a friend told me to come live with her, in the apartment she was moving into. I knew she thought I was a silly, over-the-top person, but she wanted to help me. Plus, I would help with rent. After all, the apartment was a small one bedroom apartment.

So we got cozy together, sleeping together in the same small bedroom.

This action on her part made a huge impression on me. She offered her living space to me, and this allowed me to thrive. Now, whenever the situation arises, I feel I must do this for others. I let people stay with me, and offer them my things when they are in trouble. I have to, because I once benefited from such charity from a friend. Not saying that I’m all-giving, because when I sense that someone is nasty or exploitative, I still cut them off.

One of those friends who has slept on my couch, sleeping with his eyes open (literally), drinking all my booze and lighting things on fire, answered my calls when we were in the process of moving to another state. He came over with his tool bag and an electric saw and cut up all the furniture I couldn’t get rid of and couldn’t put out on the street without receiving a fine. Thinking he would leave, disappear maybe, like he always does—he didn’t. He stayed, for days, helping us pack and load the truck. We hadn’t asked for all that, but he did it anyway, and I will always be grateful for that.

Especially for his quick action during a ridiculous scene: Just as we were about to get in the Uhaul and drive away from our amazing, beautiful old apartment forever, I let the cats out of the bedroom so they could use the litter box before we put them in their carriers. My favorite cat, my big beast, bee-lined from the bedroom and opened the door under the sink with a purpose that confounds me still. He climbed right in, slinking into a hole where the pipes went, and got himself lodged under the sink. Stuck. In a matter of two seconds.

I start wailing, thinking we’re going to need to find someone to cut the sink up and then deal with the landlord and delay everything and lose money in the process in order to save my poor stupid cat, when our bug-eyed friend appears with two-by-fours he whipped out of nowhere—I still don’t know where he got them—and used them to create a wedge. We pried the sink from the ground enough for me to lay flat on the floor and drag my cat out with one arm.

Another friend is always ready with a bottle of champagne whenever there’s something to celebrate, whether that be a Master’s degree obtained or a birthday. He’s helped me unseal my car door when it was frozen shut and -25 degrees Fahrenheit out, and no one else would come help. We trudged together in the icy, cavernous world.

Another always lets us sleep on her couch when we’re back in our home city, and always listens, no  matter how heated the rant. Her advice is stoic, solid, spectacular.

I want to absorb the positive qualities in those around me, recognize them, in the hopes of growing myself. Growing because of them, growing with them. I hope I can keep these people in my life, and obtain friends of equal caliber by nurturing a good character and being good to myself as well.

 

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