Picture by Sam Brown (http://explodingdog.tumblr.com)

In January I ate my black-eyed peas. I pub-crawled, dressed all in pink. I wore sparkles and danced my way into my 30th birthday. I threw myself into my friendships. I made out with a welder. Kim started chemo and radiation. I started a list of Kim’s medications to keep in my purse.

In February I applied to UW, again. I spent an evening in a party bus with some of the best women I know. Yale moved into the condo. The radiation burned into Kim’s esophagus and she and I moved into the hospital for a week. I played DJ in a hospital room and yelled at doctors who didn’t administer pain meds quickly enough. I added more medications to the list.

In March I played dodgeball. I went to a costume birthday party in a group of cute little Mogwai. Kim felt better. She and Yale and I went on Roommate Dates. We got some of our hope back.

In April I danced. I tap danced. I dressed like a leopard and danced. I tried a detox diet and crashed and burned. I started running. Slowly. But I kept going. I pub-crawled again, this time dressed like a bunny. Yale and I kept bonding. Roommate Dates ensued.  We celebrated Kim’s 31st birthday. The Narwhal on the Wall moved into our house. Kim and I kept going to chemo. She fell in love with Twilight — I considered smothering her with a pillow.

In May I kept running. I sprinted a little bit even. I started watching Deadwood with Keridwyn and B and drank a LOT of whiskey. I was not raptured. I went to a festival of erotic art. I went to Vegas and discovered a deep and enduring love for the penny slots and poker machines. (My grandmother is proud.) Kim went back into the hospital. There was no more chemo.

In June I found out I didn’t get into UW. I made new plans for my future. I put rainbow tinsel in my hair for Pride. And for a little bit of sparkle in a dark time. Kim stayed in the hospital. I spent almost every night with her. She didn’t remember seeing me. Then she came home. So did her oxygen tank. Tubes were everywhere. I cried a lot in June.

In July Kim and I said goodbye to each other. I cried some more. She died on July 3rd. My heart broke. There was a memorial service. Then there was tequila with pineapple juice chasers. There was an empty house with her empty bed and a river of tears. Yale and I frantically searched for, found, and moved into a new house in a new neighborhood. My friends were my survival. I went to Colorado to hide away in my family. I stopped sleeping.

In August I started walking. Night walks, mostly. I tried to distract myself from my grief with dancing and dating and Burningman preparations. I played tennis. I fulfilled a lifelong dream: I saw Poison and Motley Crue in person. I also pushed a girl at a concert. (She started it.) I still wasn’t sleeping. I drove an RV to Black Rock City with my favorite people in the world. I took my first step onto the playa, rang the bell, and fell in love.

In September I dove into playa life. I let the dust settle into the cracks of my broken heart and I began to feel Kim’s death. I cried in the temple and the tears left their tracks in the dust on my cheeks while a stranger friend placed his hand on my ankle and shared my grief. I curled up on the pillows in the dome of my camp and slept. And slept. And slept. (With my hand in a package of seaweed snacks.) I rode a bike and talked to God on a pay phone. (She was loving, detached, and Australian.) I wrote a letter to my future self, mailed it, and made out with a boy on a bike. I danced with strangers friends, nestled into pillow chairs by fire pits, wore blue lights in my hair, and shared a flask of whiskey with 2 guys from New Zealand while we watched the Man burn. I climbed a tree made of light and witnessed the wedding of two very special people. And at the end of the week, I snuggled into the pile of my friends and watched the temple, where I wept and felt Kim’s death for the first time, burn to the ground. It was beautiful. I came home covered in dust, love, and a renewed sense of self. I began to believe I had the strength to move forward. I began to plan the rest of my life.

In October I started writing. Not on the blog, as you’ll see, but elsewhere. I attended a support group for people who had lost someone to cancer. I cried a little more. I started running again. I left a relationship I’d gotten into for the wrong reasons. I made good decisions. I was an Oompa Loompa for Halloween.

In November, I got my first paid writing assignment. I rehearsed with the Carol Brunettes and helped raise over $3,500 for the Pike Market Senior Center and Downtown Food Bank. I finished two beers in a row and went to an amateur porn film festival. I bought a pretty blue scarf with Linds. I saw Breaking Dawn because I promised Kim I would — then I considered smothering myself with a pillow. I made Thanksgiving dinner with the Nerd and the Hubs. I kept running.

I watched Kim die this year. If you’ve watched somebody leave this world, you’ll understand. The process changed me. Profoundly. Through Kim, I experienced the frailty of life. I begged God to save my friend and, when it was evident she wasn’t going to get better, experienced the excruciating pain of begging that same God to kill her, just so her pain would end. My face has new lines, souvenirs of this horrible, beautiful year. My heart, though calloused, is stronger. Life goes on. Breathe in, breathe out, let the great world spin.

So bring it, 2012. I can take whatever you throw at me. Because if someone wrote the song of my year, it would be exactly this: 365 days of the loudest, ugliest, happiest, most heartbreakingly beautiful song I’ve ever heard. On repeat, playing nonstop. Every ounce of pain was mixed with a bit of joy. It was totally and completely worth it.

Play it again, Universe.

Burningman 2011 (Photo by Aaron Dressin)

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