In September of 2015, I made the decision to quit my job and book a one-way flight to Cape Town, South Africa, without any real plans.
Well, realistically, I had decided in my head years before that I wanted to have a backpacking adventure, but lots of people say things like that to themselves and never have the balls to go through with it.
Anyone who knows me knows that once I decide on something, come hell or high water, I’ll make it happen.
This one though, this one was big.
I saved up money for what felt like ages, I gave my job a month’s notice, and I booked that one way flight (with a stop in Cairo because PYRAMIDS!). I bought packs to try, fiddled with how to fill them, bought too many guidebooks, until finally the day came and my mom drove me to the airport and I was off with just a pack on my back (ok and a small carry-on on my front), to take on the world. No timeline, no route, no requirements or check-ins… basically complete freedom. So much so, that after my 48 hours of travel and upon arrival in Cape-Town, I slept for 3 days straight in my bed because… there was no reason not to. If I wanted to rest, there wasn’t anyone waiting for me to do anything, so I could do what. ever. i. wanted.
That was definitely the first lesson I learned on my trip, but certainly not the last. Liberation from just about every rule and requirement developed through the entire course of the trip, reinforced with just about every choice I made… from sleeping and eating and spending what/when/how I wanted, to booking a crazy 16 day camping trip the day before it started and having to emergency purchase a sleeping bag and other accoutrements for a life-changing adventure with 10 other crazy travelers (who I’d get cabbaged with ANYTIME), to jumping out of a plane even though I swore I never would, to running as fast as humanly possible and jumping off the side of a mountain over Victoria Falls, to flipping the HELL out at a hostel owner who was a complete predator, to hopping on random busses in Tanzania and figuring “hey, I’ll get there eventually, right?”, to creative truth telling to Ethiopian customs officials so I could hang out with my Sorority Sister for 6 hours before my flight connection, to accepting a ride from a random traveler in Myanmar from Golden Rock back to Yangon, to Jewish temples and family friends in Yangon… everything crazy and wonderful was an experience I’ll never forget and wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
And then getting sick in Yangon, Myanmar.
What an unexpected end to my trip – I never expected to cut everything short being sick and having to medevac from Myanmar to Thailand and seeing my father for the first time in years, and then having insurance allow wifey to come (the BEST part!), to ending up back home on December 30th after being scooped up at the airport by my now, ex-boyfriend.
Things after that are so blurry and crazy.
If you’ve been following this saga since the beginning, you’ll know that it was my plan to come back after 4-6 months of traveling, to the states, and then relocate to San Francisco, CA.
However, as they often do, my plans changed, primarily because of my ex. I wanted so strongly to give our relationship a chance to work, so instead of immediately beginning applications to San Francisco (after surgery of course!), I decided to stay in NJ/NY.
I ended up with the most amazing job, where I’m working in advertising technology on a software team doing product enablement, which is realistically a perfect role for me, and yet something I’d never had the ability to become involved in at my old company. PLUS the pay-differential between this and my last role is career-changing, positioning me incredibly well for future growth.
So for a minute there, things were feeling really lined up. Job, relationship, apartment (I moved into this super cute spot in Jersey City!), I was put back on the Maidens at GSR…. everything was basically dreamy af.
That’s not how things work though, right?
My relationship basically exploded and I was a shittastic mess.
Like… really, really bad.
Like in the dark not moving not eating not functioning kind of bad.
Oh, and my grandfather was in the hospital for a month and almost died. The doctors didn’t think he would be leaving the hospital alive – they were shocked when he recovered, and the weight of my entire family was on my back because everyone else involved was completely broken.
And yet… if you don’t know darkness, you’ll never recognize light.
Recuperation began with a shotgun trip to San Francisco to visit little brother, followed by a LOT of love from my friends. Like, a LOT. I can’t even express my appreciation for all of you.
Things moved along as things do, and I escaped again to Asia for a Singapore/Malaysia/Indonesia trip for 2 weeks and came home to Nekocon.
Neko. My love and light. I get more and more nervous as the days tick down to con ever year (am I going to do well as a GM? Why do I do this? Do people enjoy when I run things? EEEK!!! WHY DO I EVEN DO THIS?!), and then the moment things begin I remember how much I love it.
Shit hit the fan HARD that Sunday though, and relapsing into “what the hell am I doing with my life and how did I end up HERE and feeling like THIS” stabbed me in the damn back.
My friends though. My friends since I was a KID. They were there for me and snuggled me and they were just exactly what I needed, when I needed them. (And an amazing friend who called to check on her as well…)
After a LOT of breathing and a lot of thinking and a lot of EVERYTHING, Nekoweekend finished on a super high note for me, with an emergency blankachu visit due to a missed flight in Norfolk. Lots of bonding ensued, with many hugs and much love.
Also at Neko, Bill and Jason talked me into coming to KR’s Masquerade Ball a few weeks later. I figured, at this point, what was there to lose? I might as well buck up and finally go, since the whole thing sounded terrifying, yet fun, and my year was ALREADY in such a shambles, that it really couldn’t get much weirder/worse… right?
In preparation for the Ball I got to spend some much-needed bonding time with one of my teammates who I have ALWAYS wanted to get closer to, and her husband as well. The ball itself was AMAZING and I got to hang out with my friends and meet theirs as well, although the entire thing was a bit overwhelming with all of the new people and the expectation of relationships and understanding. I was TERRIFIED that I was going to mess something up. I think I only slipped up a few times (once in front of the Baron, I believe… WHOOPS!), and I met my Sister by just being myself and being kind and getting rewarded, and it put a really warm feeling in my heart towards the entire KR community.
Fast forward to this month’s event.
Again, terrified that I would mess something up. Part of my safety-net was yanked away the day before the event, because I was supposed to spend an entire day with Ree hanging out and girling, and I was planning to pick her brain about all kinds of KR things… but she got called into work and we weren’t able to see each other. BUT!
Jason, Xander and I persevered and we headed up to camp in Sparta for my first KR weekend (after a near-miss of me almost forgetting my sleeping stuff… that would have been tragic. >.< ). I embarrassed the eff out of myself at the new-player training, but that’s how it goes, right? I’m always doing SOMETHING derpy…. I was also super worried that my garb/clothes wouldn’t suit, that my boots were weird, that I would say something totally awkward or out-of-cannon… basically every fear I could have, I did.
Something really freaking magical happened.
Lay-on was called and I kind of just went for it.
Everyone was so freaking great and even though Bear is so far out of the realm of my usual typecast, having my brothers there to bounce off of made her just flow so naturally. Everyone else was amazing, from my new player “friendship circle” to the Marshals who put up with my weird questions and crazy antics, to the other NPCs who helped extricate me when I got my hair stuck in a bush during main mod. #bushproblems are real.
After the last hold was called, a weird kind of feeling came over me. Since Neko I had really started feeling like a little piece of myself again. Like in a way I haven’t felt like myself since the last Otakon I went to when I was just me. With my friends. Doing our thing and being ourselves without giving a SHIT what anyone else thought about us because we were happy.
Maybe I’ve been chasing that feeling for a decade without realizing it.
Maybe PCing at KR is the jolt I needed to just snap back.
Maybe it’s been a little bit of everything this year, because I have always and will always believe that everything happens for a reason.
Maybe it’s all been to remind me of why I am and what I am and who I’m meant to be.
2016, it’s been REAL, and I mean REAL… and I can’t wait to see what 2017 is going to bring.