At the beginning of this decade I was a junior in high school. I cannot believe how much I've changed since then, and I don't mean just hair colors.
At that point in my life, I still felt like a big fish in a small pond. I was still smart enough to do whatever I wanted and young enough to make mistakes and not fear the consequences. I wanted to be a veterinarian, I wanted to double major in music performance (violin), and I wanted to move far away from Texas. Of these things I was absolutely certain.
At the beginning of my senior year, I hung a poster of the aerial view of Randolph Macon Women's College in my bedroom. I was going to go there, or somewhere like it, and I was going to thrive. I just knew it. It seemed inevitable that someone would burden my dreams with reality, though.
I would break up with my significantly older boyfriend of two because he refused to go back to school. I would also get accepted to Texas A&M University's Biomedical Science program, which is not at all Randolph Macon, where I was accepted but couldn't afford even with my $20,000 scholarship from a golf charity.
I graduated, said good bye to my friends, and moved to College Station. Turns out that I didn't need to be in Lynchburg, Va., to find out who I really was and what I really wanted.
Several idiotic college relationships later, I felt smarter, but I wasn't necessarily. I decided to move in with my then boyfriend, and I made one of them most significant life decisions ever: After two years in the Biomedical Science program, I switched majors to journalism.
I got into photography.
And I set out to change the world in my own way.
I took a few environmental policy and law courses and really felt that advocacy and publications and the business of changing people's minds was my destiny. I'd always felt a connection with the environment, and to really work to change our culture's perception of it was a noble cause.
So, I graduated, dumped my long-term boyfriend who admitted he was dead weight, got into some really hasty love affairs and then got a job in the Editorial Department of Texas' Leading Newspaper.
It was my dream job.
I moved to Dallas, which may have well been Lynchburg to my family in the Houston area. It was hard to be a 3-hour drive away, but it was also liberating.
At the end of July in 2005 I went on my first night out alone to a small blues bar on Greenville Ave. near Ross called Muddy Waters. I sat at the bar, drinking Lone Star and smoking Camels. I met Dave. We've been together ever since.
We got married the next year, which is my second most life-changing decision. The third followed soon after: We bought a house in East Dallas, cementing my status as a Dallasite.
You've read about everything else in between, so I'll spare the details. But it's safe to say that as 2009 ends, so does the most turbulent decade of my life. I can't believe the number of changes I've been through since then, but I'm so glad I ended up where I did. Even though this year I've dealt with unemployment and the real difficulties of making ends meet and keeping your pride in check, I can say that this decade has been the most humbling, gratifying, amazing, and optimistic years of my life.
I hope you and I both have many more ahead. Happy New Year!