HAPPY NEW YEAR, Y'ALL!
2015 was a whirlwind, full of loveliness and travel and adventure. But there were losses, too — losing friends, walking away from work I loved (and figuring out how to make sense of my life without seeing my brilliant colleagues every day), facing a never-ending avalanche of 'lasts' as the parent of a senior in high school — but even then, the humbling truth is that I was so lucky to have had any of it to begin with. So incredibly lucky.
Being quick to cherish has a cost, especially if you do so neither easily nor lightly, but it is always worth it to let your heart fill to bursting, I think. So let's have a look back at the year!
For most mortals, when you have a little baby and you're very young, travel isn't at the top of your priority list.
I can't remember a time when vacations didn't revolve around the school calendar year! That's more or less how we all ended up in Bermuda for last year's holiday break, with my best friend along for the ride. Why the heck not?!
We were blissfully unencumbered by the usual New Year's Eve expectations, but I'm not sure we'll ever be able to beat the one we had in Bermuda: going from a hot tub overlooking the ocean to a leisurely Italian dinner a stone's throw away to a nearby secluded beach in all our finery and paper hats, champagne in hand for the countdown, was a pretty dreamy way to go. Capping it all off with a New Year's Day deep sea dive the next day was surprisingly unbelievable. Every single one of us conquered one fear or another out on the water (or under it), and we all left wishing we could just jump right in and do it all over again. I would pop out to Bermuda in a heartbeat if given the opportunity, it's lovely!
Our daily routines clicked back into place for the rest of January and February, but were frequently interrupted or straight-up immobilized in the thick of Boston's worst winter on record. I recovered from having all my wisdom teeth out (it was the worst, you guys) and my colleagues and I headed off to Los Angeles for a big event. M gave me her blessing to take an extra few days after wrapping up work, so I booked myself a room (and a convertible, just for fun), waved my coworkers goodbye as they returned to New York and Boston, and left Beverly Hills for Santa Monica.
I got to soak up some much-needed rays, go for aimless drives up and down the glorious Pacific Ocean coast, and experience a rare and dramatic LA thunderstorm. I explored the Santa Monica Pier and picked up a handful of records and Kim Gordon's new book, Girl in a Band, at the Amoeba in West Hollywood. (Fun fact for new readers: I used to work for Amoeba as a contract research editor). I had dinner with old friends at Crossroads and couldn't have picked a better place to rest my head than Palihouse Santa Monica. I almost missed my flight for one last, lingering trip to the beach, which meant I boarded with jeans that were soaking wet and full of sand below the knees. (Carpe diem and all that jazz.) You can see more Cali action here and here, or follow my Santa Monica adventures via cutie pie Linus bike here!
One freezing cold night in March I heard a horrible crashing sound and realized the massive, glacier-sized ice dam affixed to our incredibly steep roof had come slamming two stories down into our front steps, walk and driveway, taking with it a critical bit of roof and the whole mess landing atop several feet of already packed in snow. The ice was so hard and thick and impossible that I just lost it, collapsing in a pile of tears on the front porch after peeling off layers, nearly losing fingers and a fair amount of very loud cursing. Certainly not my finest moment, but I did get back up eventually and took out a substantial chunk that evening through sheer will. (Fingers crossed that's the first and last time that ever happens to me.)
It was almost as if the LA trip made winter harder instead of giving me a little power boost. Two weeks after returning, any hibernation mode I'd settled into was interrupted by an offsite work retreat.
Still, we did our best to end the month on a high note nearby with an impromptu overnight at The Liberty Hotel and tickets to the Boston Symphony Orchestra for Mahler's 6th. This bright viridian green dress topped with a minty moto jacket were slightly premature since the Charles River was still mostly frozen over and blanketed in snow, but I was so eager for spring (clearly still a long way off).
April came with news that a friend and beloved femme had taken her own life; it was devastating and unmoored me in a lot of ways. We don't talk about death or face the fact of it in our culture enough, we oscillate too wildly between outright denial or obliviousness to naked sensationalization, and we're very ill-equipped for the way time drags us kicking and screaming toward moving on whether we're ready to or not, to say nothing of how poor we are preventing needless death.
We've become very good at pretending that we won't lose one another when it is a certainty that we will. Gently, firmly, lovingly postponing that certainty seems to be the least that we can do for our loved ones.
And then my birthday came. M swooped in (as she does) and took me to NYC for the weekend, surprising me with a friend's show at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, Fun Home on Broadway, Dominican brunch with friends, and though none of it was entirely safe from spilled tears or champagne, all of it made me feel terribly loved and adored.
Two weeks after that, the petite and I took our first mother-daughter trip to Puerto Rico! It might have taken us two years, but we finally figured out the sneaky trick every East Coaster already knows: The only way to survive the winter is to run as far away from it as you can, and spring break is your last chance to flee. Mostly we ate, swam and sunned ourselves whole again, with in-between day trips to Old San Juan and El Yunque Rainforest on horseback. I was surprised to discover that my child can fearlessly gallop a horse and that she's part-mermaid. (Alright, so maybe I am a little, too.)
Things finally warmed up weather-wise, and even though it meant missing Mother's Day at home, I was back in NYC to work a gala as well as the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. Both were wildly successful events!
All of the iPhone photos above are from that weekend; Janet Mock at the GLAAD event, Jussie Smollett at Pier 60, winding down a long day with a little wine on the balcony with my forever and most amazing work wife, jumping straight from GLAAD to a late-night work session, showing my boss's newborn the Manhattan skyline during an early-morning meeting while his dad warmed up a bottle inside. To say that I loved working at an organization comprised of incredible people fully committed to doing the important work of supporting LBGTQ families is an understatement. I felt seen and whole and at home in a way that I hadn't before, and I'm terribly lucky to have found that again at Autostraddle.
Though I couldn't have imagined it when I handed in my resignation letter to the Board of Directors a few days later, the outcome of making such a tough call provided some much-needed closure before 2015 slipped away. Time and again, doing the hardest thing is almost always the right thing has proven itself to be true.
And then it was the most epic Pride Month in the history of all time/coolest birthday present ever for M from SCOTUS, thanks to their historic ruling on marriage equality. What a momentous day for the tireless efforts of countless others who fought so long and hard for it to come! It was an epic win that restored in me a powerful, much-needed feeling of right and good and justice in the world, and it felt like the final push that gave me back my balance and lightness. For the first time in two months, I picked up my camera.
It is so ordered.
When M came home from work Friday night we sat on the porch and agreed: WE MUST GO TO NYC. We were so giddy and restless! On Saturday morning we drove straight down to Manhattan, snagged a room at The Standard High Line, and marched through the streets in the pouring rain with the Autostraddle crew in the Dyke March, then joined the crowds a few blocks away for the Pride Parade the next morning. It took two brutal hours just to get out of the city that night, but oh my god it was so worth it.
Earlier in the month, I started spring cleaning like a madwoman in advance of a huge neighborhood yard sale our block had organized. It was a sobering preview of all the purging we'll have to do before the move this year, my brain just shorts out anytime I think about it and how much work it'll be! Yikes.
My dearest and best friend came to town for a conference and tacked on some extra days to run amok with M & I. We took her to see the 4th of July fireworks over the Charles River from the Cambridge side and there was a spectacular moonrise that night over the Boston skyline. We also took her to one of our favorite local beaches in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Singing Beach.
I started reading Saga which totally caught me by surprise — I never, ever thought I'd get hooked on a comic book series. I drank a lot, like a lot of rosé, and dyed my hair to match at Trephin. The petite flew off to California to visit a ton of college campuses and hang with family, while M & I packed for an adults-only vacation. Portugal was always at the top of M's must-see travel destinations and she so deserved a bona fide getaway (you guys, she sort of never stops working). The fact that it's actually really affordable to visit Portugal sealed the deal, so we ended July in lively, light-filled Lisbon.
From there we journeyed to Sagres by train and fell in love. We walked everywhere and quickly found our favorite spots and fell into a little daily routine which is pretty much my ultimate goal for a vacation: to settle in so well that you all but forget home. In fact, M did forget what our house looked like, she even forget streets in our neighborhood and that's when I knew we'd just had an unforgettable trip, one gobsmacked by beauty.
We came home (barely) and had a few days to breathe before the petite came back from California and we were in full-swing back to school mode — and for the last time ever! It felt like summer had only just begun thanks to the unbearably long winter and gone-in-a-flash spring, and suddenly here we were throwing our last backyard BBQ of summer, cringing at fall clothes in shop window displays, and getting out on Jamaica Pond before they closed up shop for the season.
When I was in my 20s I ran around like a madwoman, constantly overextending myself and taking on too much, juggling projects and social obligations and commitments I couldn't possibly all keep. "Slow down" was not in my vocabulary as a single mom, so I'd grit my teeth, suck it up, make it work on too little sleep, and inevitably, once or twice every year, my body would stop me in my tracks. I know Cali is the Land of Expert Flakiness, but I've always hated not doing what I said I was going to do. Even knowing that no one else really cared or would notice didn't matter; I cared. I noticed.
Then I mellowed out, gave myself permission to say no and change my mind about things, and that frenetic energy of my youth was at last behind me. NOT. So a horrifying thought occurred to me in September: What if you never grow out of it? What if it happens in cycles? For the ninth consecutive month in a year, I found myself traveling, this time to work the largest queer New York Fashion Week runway show, dapperQ's VERGE.
A week after that, I was back home and jumping from one senior parent meeting to another at the kiddo's high school, I'd decided to suddenly take up running and became the new Beauty Editor at Autostraddle. And because it was our last fall together as a family, I crammed as many wholesome, New England outings into the schedule as I could. Here are some snaps from The Taste of WGBH Food & Wine Festival, where 10 top local chefs presented their best tacos for a prize. Basically unlimited tacos and bottomless mezcal cocktails. (I know.) SO GOOD.
We went to a wedding in Chicago. It was spectacular. Chicago is spectacular. Within two hours of landing we were already preemptively depressed at having to return to Boston four days later, and we've been to Chicago before.
If it weren't for the cold and the whole landlocked thing, we'd absolutely give living there a real shot. There's a certain easy, authentic joviality when you meet people there, and man, I've missed that guilelessness living in New England. We came home feeling so refreshed and revived and like we'd been gone a whole week at least.
Of course, like clockwork, my body tapped me on the shoulder and said, "You had fair warning, my dear," and I was so, so sick with a vile monster cold for two weeks, and took M down with me. As soon as I felt better, I fell halfway down a staircase and was laid up with a sprained ankle and my doctor also informed me that I also had a bit of tendonitis, so we finally got me some proper running shoes for when I was able to start jogging again. I took it easy and by Halloween, the foliage was as magnificent as the weather:
According to my Google calendar, November had just three totally blank dates on it. There were femme power lunches, SS16 fashion previews, Autostraddle merch promo photos, new petsitter interviews, senior photos, senior proofs, college applications and financial aid info sessions, though M & I did manage to swing a few date nights: Beirut at the Paradise Rock Club, By The Sea at one of our favorite indie cinemas (gorgeous but bafflingly, dreadfully boring).
And then we were home for the holidays, and it was just grand. Here's a San Francisco sunrise!
Holiday parties, birthday parties, coq au vin dinner parties! CHRISTMASTIME!
Even though we were a week behind in holiday hustlin' and bustlin' since M stayed behind to work from the San Francisco office for a bit, everything ended up working out beautifully.
The kiddo turned 18 years old on Christmas Eve, and we all had a really special Christmas — our last together in this house, and before she's off to college.
I noticed that something weird happened in 2015: I traveled literally every month last year. I wouldn't be surprised if all this to and fro was a coping mechanism for getting through the home stretch of our time in Boston; it's never happened before. If there's one thing M consistently tells me, it's "Sit still, Jonesey." Before I met her, I thought climbing the walls was my normal resting state. Now I know it's how I respond to feeling uncentered, like I don't have a solid home base.
It makes perfect sense, then, that 2015 was a restless year for me, and that 2016 will shift my focus to a change that's as terrifying as it is thrilling: M & I will be on our own for the first time since we met. The kiddo's gonna be on her own out there in college freshman land. We're already totally hopeless without her when she's away for a short time, I can only imagine it's going to be hilarious chaos as we navigate whatever the hell life is like without a kid under your roof.
You have no idea how good I am at letting go when I need or want to, but this year I'm going to need major reinforcements. I hear other parents joke that they're ready, that they can't wait, and sure, they usually have a bunch of kids instead of just the one, but god I envy them, how easy it must be to feel however that feels, to have an almost cavalier nonchalance toward the whole thing.
So long, 2015!
Our final trip this year was a road trip. Our best friends in Boston left us last last year, moving on to greener pastures, bigger homes closer to their families, and exciting new work opportunities. We've missed them!
They love their new home in Pennsylvania and haven't looked back once. I envy them, too, and hope we can come a little closer to finding that ourselves in 2016 — that's a resolution I'll toast to!
Polar opposite to last year, this New Year's Eve was spent tucked into a quaint little historic B&B in Connecticut after we waved our pals goodbye. We sat on the antique couch after dinner, ignored the gala happening in the main residence, and popped open some champagne. We laughed and talked well past the midnight countdown, like when first met.
Now if that's what the new year looks like, by god I'll take it.