Two days ago I bid farewell to 2013, the fabulously amazing year that it was, and helped usher in 2014… Well, okay, that’s sort of a lie. I’m fairly certain I was passed out drunk when the new year rolled around and I missed out on the big moment. That’s what too many shots of vodka will do to you.
But the point I’m trying to make is that this was a big year. The biggest year of my life, in fact. It wasn’t an easy year though. Some of you might remember my struggles with anxiety back in April and May, which was a day-to-day battle that took a physical and mental toll on me and put me in the hospital at one point. But overlooking that two month hiccup, the rest of 2013 managed to be extraordinary.
I graduated from university with cum laude honors – something I would never have thought possible back in high school. I took second place in my first ever poetry slam, and then went on to take first twice in a row. I went to my first ever convention, LeakyCon, with one of my best friends on this planet, and met several amazing celebrities. I had an art showing for my photography. I finished both Capstones. I corresponded with William Kircher a bit. I wrote more articles online. Everything was coming up Julia.
But there was one other thing that happened this year. Now let me see, what could that have possibly been…
On December 14th of 2012 I posted on my Tumblr: “So who wants to go to New Zealand with me next summer?” That was the first inclination I showed to anyone that I had a plan in mind. Of course back then the plan was a bit different. I planned on coming to New Zealand by myself, traveling for two or three months, and then going home (and somewhere in there having a torrid love affair with The Almighty Johnsons‘s Emmett Skilton). Then three months turned into half a year. Then half a year turned into a full year. Then traveling alone turned into Kathleen coming with me for the first two months.
The rest is history.
So far during my stay I’ve seen over twenty cities here in New Zealand. With one or two exceptions (*cough*DunedinandInvercargill*cough*) I’ve loved every place I’ve gotten the chance to visit. The people have all been lovely, the scenery beautiful, and the experiences memorable. I have no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision coming to this country.
Not to mention the New Zealand culture. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds up in Paihia are one of my favorite places I’ve visited, and I’ve gotten the chance to speak to several people of Maori heritage about their culture. It’s a part of New Zealand I look forward to learning more about during the rest of my stay.
And Kathleen. Oh Kathleen. I could not have asked for a better travel companion, and despite the fact that you went home exactly three months ago to this day, I still miss you. So many wonderful memories. Screaming “Wonderwall” down the Luge. Pancakes in Lyall Bay. Failed jumping pictures. Starkid watching parties. Subway sightings. “Herrrroooooo.” WiFi stealing at libraries. The sky raining tampons. YOU GOT IT. “Mr. Brightside” impromptu dance parties. Wrangling calves. Giggling about Auckland’s White House. That circus in Taupo. All the Lord of the Rings tours and Weta Cave visits. Holding hands as we drove up to Hobbiton. “Getting Along” duets. Touching the booty.
What a goddamn amazing time we had together.
Then sky diving in Taupo. What a surreal, phenomenal experience. Plummeting to the ground from 12,000 feet in the air; the wind knocking your breath away. There’s no feeling like it in the world. As I’ve said before, sky diving is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives.
Then, you know, there’s the whole reason New Zealand was even on my radar in the first place. Yes, I’m talking Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit. What else is new?
Then I had the wonderful opportunity of finding a flat with this especially lovely lady. Cheryl, if Kathleen was the perfect New Zealand travel companion, you have been the perfect New Zealand flatmate. I love the routines we’ve fallen into. Parenthood and ice cream. Reading side by side on our couch for hours on end. Getting more excited for food than is probably socially acceptable. I’m glad I have you to go through 5:30am fire alarms with and to share in the love of chocolate. You are a wonder and a delight, and when you take off next month I am most likely going to cry. You have been warned.
Also, Christmas happened for us! Well, I mean, of course it happened, but I never blogged about it. This year’s Christmas was a humble one. No stocking filled to the brim with candy and gadgets, nor a humungous pile of presents from family and friends. But that’s not to say it wasn’t a fantastic Christmas. Cheryl and I opened our tiny pile of presents that morning, then spent the day with a couple of friends. We ate far too much food, watched You’ve Got Mail, and relaxed all day long. It was a different Christmas than what I’m used to, but also a pretty great one as well.
While my New Zealand adventures have had a lot of twists and turns I didn’t expect, one of the most unthinkable things happened upon coming to Wellington: I went and got a job I actually liked.
I always assumed when I found work in New Zealand it would be some mindless retail/food services job that I’d be eager to leave right away, but no. I found a job with great people that’s both fun and challenging. As I’ve said to people before, I’ve never had a job that both stressed me out this much and was this enjoyable. That’s not to say I want to spend the rest of my life knocking on doors, but for now? For now I am content. Content enough that my plan of going back to traveling around New Zealand at the start of February has been put on hold.
(I should also say that, yes, my job is partially the reason new blog entries have come to a stop. Not only do I usually not have enough time or energy to write, but pretty much the only thing I have to write about on a normal basis is work. My job’s in no way boring, but I figured the entries would sound rather repetitive if I kept talking about work.)
But the best thing of all? Not only did I find a job that I liked, which is helping me save up money for a bit more travel, but I managed to gain something else: a remarkable group of friends.
While the job is enjoyable, they make it worth coming into the office every day. The long hours, the door slams, the consistent walking would seem a drag, but these guys make every day a treat. They’re a funny, bright, amazing group of people that I feel lucky to know.
What’s more, I’m dating someone for the first time in over two years.
My romantic life has always been far from perfect and I don’t necessarily have the best track record when it comes to dating, so it’s by no means an exaggeration when I say that this is the happiest I’ve been in a relationship in a very long time. I won’t go much more into it than that, but just know that he’s a sweet, funny, frustratingly stubborn, nice guy who makes me happy. You can’t ask for much more than that.
All in all, it’s pretty clear to see why this is probably the best year I’ve ever had. I’ve never been so content as I have been these last five months. Everything just seems to be going right for once.
I promise that there will be blog entries again. I’m sorry for being a lazy butt and not writing more often. I didn’t mean for my blog to go unattended for so long, so let the record state that my hiatus is over and done with. I’m avoiding too many New Years resolutions for 2014, except for one big one: WRITE MORE.
At any rate, I am so damn excited for these next seven months in New Zealand. I’m going to keep working and – seeing as I was just promoted – start building my own team. I’ll have to start apartment hunting sometime soon, as Cheryl is moving on to more travel and then back to the States, and while the idea of finding a new apartment is stressful it’s also pretty damn exciting. There are more work road trips on the horizon, which means seeing even more of New Zealand. Plus Beckah’s visiting me at the end of February, so I’ll be taking two weeks off from work to do a bit of travel with her. Then I think I might follow in that same routine: work for several weeks, then take one or two weeks off to go travel a bit. I’m dying to get back up to Bay of Islands, and down to the south island to revisit some friends. Yes, 2014 is looking bright, and one can only hope that it’ll be just as good as this year – if not better.
So here’s to you, 2013. I could not have asked for a better year.