2014: WHAT I’VE LEARNED (ABOUT LIFE, LOVE, LOSS, AND LIVING IN A BIG CITY).

As my birthday looms, I’ve been reflecting on all kinds of shit, and I realized I needed to completely jump into 2015 before I was ready to write about 2014. It was one hell of a year, and I’m still not over it. 2015 feels like a made-up number. It’s the future, and yet it’s here.

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I started 2014 in the dark. After a summer of baseball-fueled night shifts, I continued to make my winter money after the sun went to sleep. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise — your social life can feel like a pipe dream when you are on a completely different schedule than all of your friends (and potential persons-of-significance). The melancholy that seems to come standard with sleepless nights tangled with other aches of mine in the chill of winter. I struggled mightily to understand how an unbelievably sweet person (who happens to be my aunt) could be diagnosed with cancer. I learned, heartbroken, I was to be grandparent-less when my Nana, whose presence and love was a constant in my life, passed away in March.

The sun started shining again, though. As the weather warmed, I took in visits from friends and family. I went dancing. I learned how ridiculously lucky I am to have parents who are willing to embrace this city, embrace new things, and (attempt to) stay out late. And dance.

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As lovely as the spring was, nothing compares to the magic of last summer. Friends of mine started to get married, and I traveled to Pennsylvania and New Jersey to witness their commitments. My sister said yes to making a commitment of her own and in the process, gifted me a brother (in-law). I moved (back) in with my best friend and practiced the joy of drinking a beer on a balcony with a view. I played softball with a ridiculously great group of women (a season only slightly marred by our lack of winning prowess and my torn meniscus). And one night after a particularly fun set of games, I learned that it’s possible to meet someone in a bar who will change your life.

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I traveled to Ireland (my first transatlantic journey) at the end of August for a Penn State football game and left that country with a set of memories so fantastic and pictures so green they don’t look real. I drove on the left (wrong) side of the rode, experienced the thrill of sharp rainbows and misty cliffs, and felt how important traveling is to me. Potentially most importantly, I learned that I have friends willing to trespass with me for the chance to stand in front of a relic of my ancestors (Hurley Castle below: Aunt Eileen/Pappy/Nana in 1987; me in 2014).

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The fall blew in its sweater weather, and my sleepless nights grew longer, synchronized with the growing intensity of the MLB playoffs. I clung to brunches with my chosen family, saw more live music than I should’ve been able to, made a trip back to State College, and savored time (and wine) with my family in Pittsburgh. As the chill in the air sharpened, I hosted family in an apartment finally big enough to host, and I cried when I saw my sister in what will be her wedding dress. I breathed in the smell of Christmas trees on the sidewalk and cherished their lingering scent long after they left their posts. I learned how important it is to invest in those that never leave you. And I learned that somehow my heart is more patient than I thought.

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Teach me something, 2015.