Tuesday, January 3, 2012

In Retrospect. . . Wow.

I started 2011 with an open heart and the sincere hope of being friends.  I'm not sure if 2011 and I ended as friends. . . to be honest I'm not yet sure how I feel about this past year.  Part of me is mildly shocked that it is in fact a "past" year.   Where did it go?  On the other hand, I feel very different from the rather hopeful voice that is clear in the above post.  Thats not to say this past year was all bad, or even mostly bad.  It was mostly unexpected and full of totally new experiences.  Let's just take a look back, shall we?*

I started the new year looking forward to the adventures I knew it had in store, the blessings I hoped would come, and the trials I could anticipate so early on.  I went back to school to start the second semester of my sophomore year, which was the busiest I'd ever encountered.  I began adding pages to and experimenting with the layout of my blog.  I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life in the form of KCACTF (Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival), a solid week of master classes, workshops, performances, auditions, exploring theater, and parties.  I grappled with some of my insecurities.

I had volunteered to do crew work for our spring plays The Odd Couple and The Female Odd Couple and found myself thrown in as Props Designer and Props Manager. . . and then also running the backstage crew!  It turned out to be a little bit much for me (coupled with a very heavy class load, rehearsals for another show, and lots of homework) and the weekend of Valentines Day/my 18 month anniversary with Boyfriend I ended up heading home with a pretty bad concussion.  And a cold.  Bad luck runs in threes, yes?  My luck ran out (thankfully) in time for a heartfelt wedding of two deserving people.

I found myself forced to move out of my childhood home for good. . . and it was nothing like I expected.  I turned 21 and had the best birthday I've ever had, complete with a mini celebration, a yummy cake, my first time in a bar (and my first drink, which I couldn't finish), a beautiful present from Boyfriend, and lots of laughter.  I was Assistant Stage Manager for our spring Musical, which was amazing.  And I experienced my most life-changing adventure thus far: flying to the Caribbean for spring break with two of my dearest friends, to experience Trinidad & Tobago in all of it's glory, culture, and rawness during Carnival, the biggest part of the year.  I saw how people on a different part of the globe experienced our shared religion, breathed in air that smelled of flowers and spices I'd never known, tasted entirely new flavors, saw the sunset over new mountains, started learning another language, wrestled (and eventually gave into) wild tropical waves, and bonded with girls I will love for the rest of my life.  I grieved with the world for Japan, and ached for my friends there and whose families were trapped in the rubbles.  I learned through these last two things that life is so worth living - and that each breath is a true blessing.

I got to take some awesome pictures with my incredibly talented photographer friend, and played around with my roommate's camera after a saturday morning rehearsal.  I was inspired by a classroom exercise to give this blog a new name.  I celebrated the differences that make my relationship work.  I did my best to survive the end of the semester. . . 

I started finals with a lovely breakthrough.  My little sister turned 19.  I settled into my new home, including starting a garden and finding a rhythm for my exercise regime.  I reflected on a year post surgery.  I started trying to navigate my work schedule in a new place.

I tried to find a way to help my friend Alivia, and reached out to the blogging community.  I alphabetized myself.  I started working for the summer, teaching dance and martial arts and being a camp counselor at a kids fitness & fun day camp.

I continued with my Weekly Gratitude participation, and was really excited that one of my favorite bloggers reading and commenting on one of my posts.  I got to cross one of the things I was looking forward to back in January off of my list - Shauna & Jake's wedding.  It was a glorious mountaintop, castle affair, complete with a sparkling white dress, dashing marines, glowing tealights, free flowing tears, live music, and dancing in a circle of friends I've had since I was two years old.  


I started my junior year of college.  I wrote about the strange moods that sometimes grip me on the day the restraining order expired.  It was one of my better posts, I think, not because of the subject matter (which is somewhat sad and a little strange) but because I felt as though I partially captured the emotions I was feeling.  I contemplated what it means to have scars.  I served as Assistant Stage Manager for our fall musical (Chicago).  Walking home from a Chicago rehearsal, I was assaulted.  Thrown into a wall, with my shirt ripped open.  I fought for my life, and I won.

I couldn't bring myself to write.  Not a single word on the creamy off white pages of my journal, a present from my beloved roommate.  Not once did I hit "send," on a regular email to my extend family, updating them on my life.  Not one post appeared on my faithful blog, where my few and loyal followers could follow along.  The only place I did write was in my acting journal, because it was required that I write in it everyday.  Even there, the chronicles of the month are incomplete, as I didn't know how to express all of the things that went along with the traumas September had brought.  Sleepless nights, endless police interviews, a desperate attempt to reignite my own passion.  Crippling, blinding, terrifying pain in my hip, leg, and back.  Scary prognosis.  Ice packs.  Fear. Ace bandages wrapped around my newly broken body from the bottom of my breasts to the top of my knee.

 It also was a month full of friendship and love: a roommate who never said a word about the dishes I left in the sink, or the half finished laundry I left in the hamper, or when I'd sit in the bathroom and cry.  A never ending lineup of sweet male friends, each one determined I'd never walk home alone, or take the stairs unassisted.  Fencing with wooden spoons in the hallway and rude joke after rude joke until I had to smile.  Staying up until four in the morning, playing stupid games and listening to good music while I finally cried.  On top of all this, Chicago opened, and I went through the longest and most painful run of my life - though the show itself was brilliantly done.  Classes got more intense. I focused myself passionately on learning fencing for Musketeers, performing in the first dance show of the year (yes on my damaged hip) and exploring my tangled emotions through my Dance Composition and Acting classes.

I finally sat down and wrote about the actual assault.  And started to find my way back to myself - the person my friends and family loved enough to endure the sort of half-self I'd slipped into for 6 painful weeks.  It's not my best writing, and I've never truly written about what happened after, but it was an attempt.  Musketeers opened - one of the most amazing experiences I've ever been part of.  And then it closed, and for the first time I cried at a show ending, something no number of cast parties, closing nights, or last performances as ever managed to make me do before.  One of my two best friends came all the way from NYC, arriving just before the show, staying up talking all night, and leaving on the first train out, just to see me perform and show me love.  I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family and through the internet, with my dearest friends.  I did my best to let everyone I love know I loved them and what very special thing I was grateful for in them.  My piece was selected for a show at the end of the semester: in my advanced choreography class, we each had to create and audition pieces for a showcase, which would be my final.  Never in a million years did I think mine would be selected, but it was!  I started prepping for finals.  

December began with another sudden, gut-wrenching downward plunge.  One of my friends tried to take his own life, and was taken from our campus.  The hole this tore in our circle will never heal, and it will be for the rest of my life that I can close my eyes and imagine the pain in his roommate's the following days.  He is doing much better now - I'm hopeful for his future.  His roommate and all the boys in his suite are also doing well: after my own assault, I felt pain, but this (after the initial terrifying, swooping, fear) was an ache that filled my heart, my belly, and my head as I thought of the life he almost gave up, the sadness written in our friends, and the memories now colored by what-ifs.  Sometimes I think the ache and my own pain and the prickle of insecurities have blended together in a gentle throb that will sit behind my eyes and beneath my heart for the rest of my life.  It's what I wrote about in this post.  December also brought me my chance to perform that choreography that had been selected from my past, and I got to bring three choreographer's visions (including my own) to life.  I saw the utterly incredible guy I call big brother, and my amazing "sister" as well: they came from Philly and Chicago, respectively, to see me perform and visit with our circle of friends, and that best friend came from NYC again.  I celebrated Christmas with my family.  For a few sweet moments this winter break, I've been living the dream, an incredible and inspiring blessing.  

So that. . . that was my 2011.  The highest of highs in the form of incredible people blessing me with love, support, and friendship.  The lowest of lows, wrapped in fear and pain.  But I try to live a life of faith and I know, way down deep in my bones - deeper than the fear, deeper than the ache, and deeper by far than my doubts - God never gives us burdens heavier than we can bear, or blessings greater than we can manage.  

So I look with a tentative but open heart to this new year.

*I started writing this on December 27th.  It took me until about January 3rd to finish writing.  Only now have I decided I really am ready to share it with you, my beloved followers and anyone else who happes upon it in the interwebs!


  1. You are one of the strongest people I know, Lani. Not just by how thick your skin is, but by how you aren't afraid to cry. It's not about holding yourself together so that the eroding structure doesn't crumble to the ground; no, it's about meeting the ground in shards and being able to pick yourself up again once you are tired of staring at the dirt. You simply amaze me, my dearest. You always will. -Emily

    1. Thank you so much, Em! I miss you so much, you never fail to bring me comfort and inspiration.

  2. Embrace, embrace, embrace! You are obviously a wonderful writer, why not embrace that gift on this blog? Lovely post!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I'm so glad you stopped by - I love reading your blog, it is one of my favorites.