The last time I formally reviewed my year, was in 2015.
Damn, I was so happy then! What happened? A lot has happened since 2015. Alot has happened since November, but I like the practice of looking back (and looking forward), so here we go again.
2017 started 10,000 miles away, in Melbourne, Australia.
My time back home went too fast. Luckily, my company was ok for me to work remotely for a few months, which was truly generous and really changed the course of the year for me. As an expat, every waking hour is tinged with the weirdness of a foreign experience that never truly becomes normal, and rebounding home after a long stint away can be best explained as wiping away the weird. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and there’s no sunlight like Aussie sunlight.
Most big trips I did this year were centered around family. After a few months in freezing New York, I was in Napa, for the annual Tour de Cure charity ride. Later, in the middle of Summer, I spent more time on the west coast, driving with my Dad from Portland to Carmel for two family weddings. It wasn’t all positive. In October, I rushed to Fort Lauderdale, to catch my Grandpa who had been admitted into hospital. I finished the year, back in Petaluma, for thanksgiving, which has started to become a permanent fixture on my calendar and a sort-of spiritual bookend of my year.
The one thing that I spent the most time fixated with in 2017 was a small piece of plastic that I was waiting for the government to give me. I’d embarked on the green card process quite naively, thinking I’d hit a home run. With a green card, I could do anything I wanted in America, move, start a business, switch jobs, yet it came with a small catch. It took time. Time filling out forms. Time waiting in lines. But mostly just waiting. That was what nearly broke me. Was I making a bad decision? What was the opportunity cost? I felt like I was starting to lose it. The green card locked me in the States, locked me in my job, and the longer it took the deeper my cost sunk.
Several people helped me move past this psychological slump — My family, friends, random people on twitter, but my girlfriend C especially, who bore the brunt of my complaints. She helped me see the positive side, but importantly she pushed me into action, and I spent the better half of 2017 fueled by this furious energy to do. If I was ’stuck’ (how I framed it, anyway), I’ll make the fucking most of it. I learnt to code. I networked. I met and picked the brains of some of the smartest people I’ve ever met in New York. I got in the best shape of my life. I wrote. I read more than I’ve ever read. I couldn’t leave the country, so I travelled all over the U.S (Montana, Wyoming, Louisiana, Colorado). I moved into my own place. And for the first time, again thanks to C, I really lived New York — its music, its people, its art and food. Maybe the obstacle can be the way.
“You have to exert yourself at America or it will exert itself at you.“ - Mark Pollard
I’ll wrap this up with what I think was my most important ‘moment’ of this year. But it’s hard to explain. Since I moved to the States, I’ve been incredibly determined on reaching small goals, (actually my 2015 post is full of them), to prove something to myself. That was great, but I’d never taken a step back to look at the bigger picture. Why was I here? What did I really want? And for the first time I felt like I was living in an alien country — and the true distance (in every sense of the word) from home.
The bubble burst. I guess you can only keep it inflated for so long. Unplugging the belief that “I need to live here”, or “I need to do X”, allowed many plans and decisions to quickly resolve themselves. It felt incredibly good ‘not to care’, for once, and that’s something I’ll be thinking about when 2018 inevitably rolls around.