You can go ahead and thank Jenn for this one.
She went ahead and tagged me, passing the great invisible blog baton (which I'm fairly certain is just a bottle of wine because let's face it, that's what we pass more than batons around here) thus requesting I pony up and write a proper recap of the year gone by.
I would love to write something amazingly profound, fill this post with links to the year's greatest hits, or to have finally figured out what program it is exactly that people make those amazing photo montages set to music that's not just some 30 second iPhone app but I'm just not that technologically gifted (which is further reason I'm happy a certain staff sergeant will be home in two weeks time because then I won't feel so bad about not understanding how my phone seems to learn things at night without me and then make me feel exceptionally stupid when I accidentally turn on iTunes in the lobby at UrbanWaxx and anyway, isn't that what boys are for anyway? To open pickle jars, fix your car and tell you how to conquer your fear of technology?) (I'm sure that's why he signed up for this gig, right?)
So how about some bullet points for the good people of the internet?
Rejoice! Bullet points! The crowd goes wild!
(I've lost you already, haven't I?)
// Frankie and Matty got married. Again. Legally. In front of the people who love them most (I'll go ahead and assume here that you guys know we love you more than life itself and therefore claim top love on this one - so ha!) and this time, no one can touch them. Love doesn't need a piece of paper, but when so many, too many, refuse to see the love you have as something "real" until the powers that be deem it so, this is was hard fought battle and a nobly won fight. You guys prove again and again what love looks like and I was beyond honored to share such a happy day with these two pieces of my heart.
// I flew home to California, saw my family for the first time in way too long (about to pull a pretty good deja vu of that here in a couple days - I love looking forward to going home again)
// While in CA, I met two of the dearest friends I could have ever hoped for. Kate and Jenn, you guys… I just… You have no idea. God saw fit to bring us together and when I look back at all of the little things that lead up to this friendship I can see now a beautifully and perfectly orchestrated masterpiece that could only come from a master like the Creator of all things himself. The big man done good with this one.
// This month was a hard one. Once again I had to come face to face with the ugly reality that I was in fact dealing with depression and had to realize just how much of my life I was letting go by without seeing it. All of the wonderful things I was unable to see because I was paralyzed with near shattering sadness. And at the same time, I had to get ready to put on a happy face once again…
// Because this was the month I flew to Connecticut to photograph Luke and Alyssa's beautiful winter wedding. I had to see people I still, and always will, consider family, and try to hold my shit together long enough to capture what was such a wonderful and happy occasion. But if I'm being honest here, my heart was breaking the entire time. I didn't know it then, but I think my heart somehow knew the bottom was about to fall out and my whole world was going to change, suddenly and soon… And for the better, but I just couldn't see it yet… And it would be a long time before I saw why what happened next had to happen…
// I had to learn the hard way to start praying for what I need not what I want.
// Without knowing it I said goodbye to someone for the last time and in doing so, set myself on a trajectory toward a healing I so desperately needed.
// I made a bison and bleu cheese lasagna that I'm pretty sure could finalize world peace with one bite
// I went to the Revival Tour without The Camaraderie and in one night realized just how unfathomably important my friends are and how even though the glory days of our little family may be a thing of the past, those memories cannot be touched and the new glory days are yet to be… And I do have faith that the glory days we are creating now, and that have yet to be created, will be things of magic.
// Tristen. Tristen Hurst Perrigo was born and my heart exploded. I will never tire of being an aunt.
// I photographed the Cascade AIDS Project Art Auction and realized truly that all those years ago when Shamoo asked me why I wasn't a professional photographer and I laughed and said, "Oh, I wish!" was so much more a prophecy than a pipe dream.
// I had to learn - again - what it means to surrender it all.
// Moving on finally started to seem like a possibility… Still very far away, but entirely possible.
// My sweet baby Jack turned 2… How?! Aren't nephews supposed to stay tiny babies forever?
// I'm pretty sure this month I mostly cooked a lot and ate a lot… Lots of wine in there somewhere too, I'm sure.
// I photographed Andrew's birthday party where I'm fairly certain Shamoo was the only straight man in attendance and, more importantly, the new straight mascot for the gay men of Portland.
// The great state of Oregon seduced me over and over again with its wiles… Rodeos, river floats (in which I get tossed from my tube and had to be rescued out of the Clackamas River by a handsome doctor) (side note: that handsome doctor was Shamoo's brother, Eric, and it wasn't quite as dramatic as I make it sound but I will continue telling it that way because it prompted Andrew to wish his husband would save him out of the rivers one of these day), hiking… How many times can I tell you I love it here before you're sick of hearing it?
// Oh, and 4th of July! I can now tell you for certain that this holiday shouldn't be celebrated without a retired marine manning your fireworks… Especially when he disappears into the house and returns to the street with a spool of electrical wire and a detonator. Don't worry… He's certified.
// I was sent on my first official business trip when the Erath sent me up to Washington to pour at Riesling Rendezvous. Also, on a related note, I fell in love with the Heathman hotel and want to stay there all the time. ALL THE TIME!
// Jenn and the rest of the Dignazio clan moved to Korea but not before a (not so brief) layover in Seattle which meant only one thing: TERMINAL PICNIC! Five hours in the SeaTac airport eating cheese, drinking coffee and wrangling my favorite little ginger babies before seeing them off into
hell another long flight. Have I mentioned I miss you dearly?
// The Perrigos came to play, too! After a few failed attempts to get myself back out to Montana, the universe conspired to bring my favorite little family back to the Pacific Northwest! Seeing Laura, meeting Tristen, marveling at Jack… I could barely take it all in. Missing them is only surpassed by loving them.
// Those sneaky Perrigos, they came back! Just when we thought they were headed home, they stuck around a little longer and I like to think I won Auntie of the Year award with Jack for having an extensive collection of Disney movies and a giant sheepskin rug he found to be the perfect location to "swim". We also spent an evening with Ashley and the, at the time, still-cooking Olivia baby bump and I couldn't help thinking how amazing these women I call sisters are!
// Wells Thomas Larrabee arrived and after waiting all night for word from Kate, seeing his sweet little face show up on my phone made me feel like I might burst with joy (Kate seriously makes the cutest babies if you haven't noticed)
// I went to a rodeo and met an army man, home on leave… Things were about to get interesting…
// Kamdyn turned 3… I chose to only halfway accept that.
// The whole blogging world it seemed came to a halt as Diana Stone and her family were tried and tested beyond what anyone could call mercy. Their tiny, newborn son Kaden Isaiah Stone fought for his life for 21 days. Prayers beat down the gates of Heaven and even though it was not the outcome any of us hoped, those gates came down and a new breed of mercy and hope flooded our world. It was, and will remain, one of the greatest testaments of faith and God's love I have ever known. From around the world we took hold of each other's hands and encircled Diana with the only things we had and these things remain: faith, hope and love. The day Kaden passed, we all wept - most of us never knowing Diana in person but at the moment, feeling deeply connected through a sisterhood only God could have created, reminded us that we are all His children and that we are, above all, made for his glory and for each other. Kaden's short life was a greater embodiment of God's love than any of us could ever hope for and for that, I stand amazed.
// So many birthdays! Most of us turned 27, we ate a lot, drank a lot, there was much revelry and happiness!
// I got offered a job at a new winery and even though it was one of the hardest decisions of my life, I put in my notice at Erath and accepted the position as club manager for Durant Vineyards & Red Ridge Farms. More on that later…
// Olivia Grace. October 2nd. She's finally here. Ashely and Brandon became parents and another little human joined our family. 'Bout time we had a baby girl to show all the boys what's what!
// I started my new job at Durant and while there have been days I feel like I'm in entirely over my head, I love it. And I get to work with one of my best friends again (And Jo, what would I do without you? I have no idea and let's make a deal to not try and answer that any time soon... Dynamic Duo, hey-o!)
// And then there was Everleigh Marie! Kamdyn has a baby sister!
// Against all odds, and as much as I could barely believe it was happening, somewhere along the way… I fell in love. And the whole world looked different.
// Work entirely began to eat my life, but I continued to love it no matter how overwhelmed I got. Weird.
// I flew to North Carolina and spent the weekend with a wonderful, albeit sick, staff sergeant. It wasn't quite the weekend we had planned but cuddling on the couch watching football and reruns of Pawn Stars wasn't so bad, actually. And Roxy. Sweetest little pit on the planet.
// Again, and again, I had learn to that trusting God is really the only option I've got. In a lot of ways, this was a rough month, but already I can see it was a good one for that very reason.
// Thanksgiving with my gang of miscreants. So far beyond blessed I should probably pinch myself.
// To be honest, by this point, most of life was a blur. Between work and thinking way too much about everything else going on in my life, I was a near basket case by Christmas.
// Yeah, basically lost my damn mind this month.
// Checked myself before I wrecked myself.
// Thank you wine, because… Wine.
// And whiskey.
// All of a sudden it was Christmas and once again, Whiskey Gremlins Christmas Eve… My friends? Some of the best there are, I'll tell you that much.
And now here we are… An hour to midnight.
The cards fell in interesting ways this New Year's Eve.
For the first time in many years, I don't have anywhere to be.
This is not going to be the New Year's Eve where I race across town to rescue my friends and get back to the rest of the group in the middle of the midnight strike.
This is not the year I am at a party.
This won't be the year I find myself in the arms of people I love, singing into the night.
This New Year's Eve I am alone.
And for the first time in my life, I think I'm okay with that.
In two weeks, after a 3,000 mile drive from North Carolina, a country boy who I think rather highly of will be rolling that big ol' jacked up truck of his back into Oregon for good. Eight years of an impressive military career under his belt. And, now that he's retired, with the start of an equally impressive beard.
And so tonight, I will drink champagne and ring it all in, and let myself be kind of excited about what's the come with the calendar flip to 2014.
Who's with me?
(Oh yeah, the questions… I should probably answer those and make this a real live post)
Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't really make resolutions really, but I did decide on One Little Word. And I'm glad I did, because it ended up playing a much bigger part in my year than I would have guessed at the time.
And I will absolutely do it again this year, keeping with letting the word choose me. As I lay in bed this morning thinking about it, it became completely clear… This year's word?
Easier said than done, right? But then again, I like a little bit of a challenge.
Did anyone close to you give birth?
SO MANY BABIES! Um, yeah, there's something in the water. At one point I had, like, nine pregnant friends this year, half of them close friends. And another sister friend just announced her little tiny one on the way!
I need to buy stock in Baby Gap.
Did anyone close to you die?
Thank God, no.
What countries did you visit?
Since 2003, I somehow managed to get myself to England every two years… This was the first time in ten years I didn't end up across the pond. I feel it in my bones. I need to get back there.
What would you like to have in 2014 that you didn't have in 2013?
My wits about me.
What dates from 2013 will be etched upon your memory, and why?
August 13th… Because meeting him changed everything.
What was your biggest achievement of this year?
My new job. I'm still learning, and still flailing, but the challenge is at once all encompassing and exhilarating.
What was your biggest failure?
I let a lot of friendships suffer. I let depression and introverting and work and a whole myriad of other things take over and I was missing what really needed my attention. This year I am making a concerted effort to not let that happen again.
What's the best thing you ate?
Nothing crazy stands out but my guess is probably cheese of some sort. Because.. Yeah… Cheese.
What's the best thing you bought?
A ticket to the Canby Rodeo.
What did you get really, really, really excited about?
He's about 5'10'' 215 lbs. Brown hair. Blue eyes. A few tattoos. Biceps roughly the size of my thigh.
Ha. Sorry. Had to do it.
What do you wish you'd done more of?
I wish I'd been able to go camping more this summer. That's on my list. I don't take nearly enough advantage of where I live.
Compared to this time last year, are you: a) richer or poorer? b) happier or sadder? c) thinner or fatter?
a) Monetarily? Richer with the new job. Wealth in every other respect? SO MUCH RICHER.
b) Happier. But to be fair, it was a hard fought battle to get there and the price was a lot of sadness.
c) Oh good lord. Split the difference. Who can say?
Did you fall in love in 2013?
What was your favorite TV program?
Doctor Who. And Bones.
How did you spend Christmas?
With my crazies. Loving more than you think you can love other people. Eating and drinking and making all kinds of inappropriate comments that solidify us as ingrates and your average marks against society.
I spent Christmas very, very happy.
What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I turned 27. I went to work all day then met my friends at The Lost & Found where we ate pizza and drank whiskey drinks and it was one of the very best to date.
I spent my birthday very, very happy.
How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2013?
I call it "The Lairen" and it's somewhere between "I need to be classy and presentable" and "I need to crawl around in that there dirt so I hope you don't mind".
What kept you sane?
Tell me a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
Trust. And when you start to lose your shit… Trust.
It's not easy. It's not fun. I fail at it all. the. time.
But I pray. I pray all the time and when nothing else makes sense, I pray for the ability to trust that what I can't see is all that good stuff that makes life so heart-wrenchingly beautiful. That all the darkness is there to make the light that much more brilliant.
Keep trusting… Keep going…
Here's to whatever you've got, 2014.