It’s 5:18AM, Sunday the 23rd of December, 2018, and I’m worrying about dog collars.
Well, not dog collars in general, but one dog collar in specific. It’s someone’s lucky dog collar, in fact, and I’m worrying about it.
This to say that 2018 has been filled with the unexpected. Perhaps not unexpected in a vast and fatalistic way, but unexpected in the impossible-to-imagine-I-would-be-in-this-place-this-time-last-year sort of way.
A brief summary:
Rang in the New Year petting a dog (an omen?)
Began the ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful project of writing a short story a week
Participated in a reading
Attended my grandmother’s funeral (in Wisconsin)
Quit my job
Toured Europe solo for three weeks
Attended my friend’s wedding (in a palace)
Started a new job at a boutique handmade dog collar store
Moved out of a terrible house
Started dating a co-worker
Broke-up with said co-worker
Got two stories published
Came out as genderqueer
Changed my pronouns (they/them)
Changed my name (Laur)
Traveled to the AKC National Championships (in Florida)
It’s been a year, which is every year, which is full of the uncertain and the difficult, as well as the long-anticipated and joyful.
In addition to dog collars, I’ve been thinking about what I can and cannot hold onto. At twenty-five, I’ve already managed to accumulate quite a bit. Not only physical objects, but memories, thoughts, feelings, ideas, patterns of behavior, belief systems, superstitions, and stories.
If I tried to drag around everything from 2018, I’d sink under the weight. So, judiciously, practically, what can I keep?
I’ll keep the New Year. I was quiet and withdrawn but happy. I don’t know if you can picture such a thing, but it was so.
I’ll keep my reading and my birthday. People supporting me, my work, who I am and who I am becoming.
I’ll even keep my grandmother’s funeral, and the days before it, and the days after it. It was my first experience with death as an adult, of losing someone I love. It taught me, I grew.
I’ll keep the swans in Stockholm, the self-love I found in Berlin, the revelations of Bremen, and the celebration in Wiesbaden.
I’ll keep the struggle, again, of being jobless and weary. I’ll keep the courage of launching into a new career. The realization that I can fall in and out of love. (Still? Still.)
And I’ll keep the transcendence of coming out. It was hard. Honestly, harder than I expected. It’s odd. Different from what I expected. I don’t know if I thought anyone would be cruel, they haven’t been, only confused, and more often completely uncomprehending.
Honestly, idiotically, I didn’t realize how much it would hurt to be misgendered by strangers. Before I said it out loud, people were calling me she/her, and I didn’t mind, because I couldn’t imagine an alternative. Once I came out, claimed my identity as my own, knew how good it felt for people to see me as I see me, only then did the frustration and pain set in.
The incarnation of the words, they/them, made it a reality. I had been holding my genderqueer identity as something rare and fragile within my heart. Only when I revealed this to the world at large could it be bruised and neglected.
But I would come out again. A thousand times over. I likely will have to. Into 2019, 2020 and beyond.
But that’s okay. I’m carrying things from 2018 with me.