365 days, 5603 miles, 1.5 degrees: Birthday Cartography

It is unavoidable, every time a birthday rolls around I ask myself: where was I this time last year and how far have I come. I have a tendency to be overly nostalgic and sentimental at emotional milestones — birthdays, Christmas, and new years are the worst. So here is a list of 20 things that I have seen, done, or experienced since May 17th, 2010… a map of my life between birthdays.

1) I went to Malawi. This was undoubtedly one of the most profound, exciting, and important experiences of my young life. To say that I talk about it often is a bit of an understatement. Still, I will never forget baobab trees in the moonlight, hippos laughing in the Shire River, and my dear Malawian friends. Cannot wait to do it all again (and many new things too) in 2 weeks.

2) My best friend K.L. came to visit me in Vancouver. We went through a bit of a rough patch (brought on mostly by my stress and her exhaustion) and I learned: that some relationships transcend rocky waters, that rare but amazing people will take the bad with the good, and that you can’t stay mad when there are sea otters involved.

3) I lived with my parents as an adult. It was actually pretty great.

4) Moe decided briefly that I was her favorite. Cat love is priceless.

5) My boat (V8) came 9th at NCAA championships and our team came 12th, our best finish in program history. I am not too proud to say that I collapsed into hysterical tears after the race and got carried off the beach by my coach. 4 years of college rowing & 3 years with a broken spine… it was an exciting way to end my career.

6) I graduated with a double major in Political Science and Rowing and found myself happily on the receiving end of a few grin-worthy accolades.

7) I started graduate school in political science and flourished in the small class/big ideas environment.

8 ) I became a TA and discovered an undeniable passion for teaching.

9) My mother and I made it through a year without any major fights — a pretty huge accomplishment for any girl.

10) I spent  New Years with my other best friend K.S. in Calgary (cold does not begin to describe it) and reminded myself that youth is a state of mind and maturity is optional.

11) I learned the hard way that you cannot win them all but that some dark clouds do have a silver lining.

12) I baked A LOT of chocolate cakes — they were all eaten. No one complained.

13) I listened to every available episode of the Wire Tap and CBC Radio 3 podcasts, Canadian radio FTW!

14) I saw Josh Ritter, Basia Bulat, Phoenix, and Dan Mangan live — not a bad audio year.

15) My left arm broke – I maintain that my clumsiness and that patch of ice had nothing to do with it.

16) Flights: LAX – YVR – AMS – NBO – LLW – NBO – AMS – YVR – YYC – YVR – AMS – CPH (where I am spending my 23rd birthday)

17) An old friendship was rekindled and has tangoed itself into a killer roommate situation for next year.

18) I re-discovered the dubious joys of the public gym.

19) I started (and will soon finish) my first 9-5 job.

20) As I changed cities, graduated, started school, traveled, etc. I have become hyper-aware of how much I value my family and friends. If that is you — thanks for everything, here’s to another crazy year!

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