I turned 23 today. It was a very normal (but nice) day: Two students didn’t show up to class, I had another class, I went climbing, and Isa treated me to a perfect pizza dinner.
Almost a flashback of last year.
This was my second (and second consecutive) birthday I didn’t spend with my family. It was the first time that my birthday fell on Thanksgiving and I wasn’t with my family to celebrate the dually special day. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be with them; it would have been really nice to be in New York.
But I had maybe the greatest phone call of my life, a video chat with all the family and friends gathered at my parents’ place. My cousins, especially, are awesome, and it was so special to see so many of them at once, even via video stream.
Last year I marveled at how much had changed in my life over one year: From 21 to 22 I spent a semester in college, graduated, spent a summer in New York, moved to a new country, started my professional life, made a whole new cast of friends, and started the relationship that would soon change my life.
From 22 to 23, much smaller things changed. I changed apartments, have made some new friends, and have sought and found new kinds of work. Luckily I haven’t lost any friends, or let too many fade too far.
But the life I began building from September to November of last year continued this year. Isa moved in with me one week before my last birthday; we’ve now been living together for a year and a week. My English teaching took me to editing, then to writing, then to journalism. My Spanish has improved a lot. I’ve embraced my life—here in Colombia, as a freelancer in a range of related fields, as a devoted boyfriend and an attentive friend—not as an adventure, but as real life, with the good and bad that comes with that. It’s been overwhelmingly good.
All this comes down to: thanks. If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the people who has made my life so far what it is. It’s a joy. It’s more joy than anyone deserves. A lot of people who deserve joy like this don’t get it. I’m painfully aware of that, and I’m equally aware that so much of my happiness is due to things outside my control, due to the kindness of good people with great hearts.
Thanks to all of you: my perfect parents, my irreplaceable sister, my dream of a girlfriend, my rock of an extended family, all of my friends without whom I honestly couldn’t get through each day, and the army of people who have believed in and encouraged me every day of my life. I stand on your shoulders whenever I do anything, and I try to reflect and honor your love every day.