It’s amazing how quickly everything can change. A year ago today I was living in Los Angeles, engaged to be married, and writing occasionally but mostly being a housewife between bouts of exceptionally self-destructive behavior. If you would have told me then that twelve months hence I’d be living in The South, single, and (almost) supporting myself as a full-time freelance writer I would have rewarded you with my most skeptical face—but to be fair, I don’t think 2016 worked out the way any of us expected it to…
Personally, 2016 was such a grinding combination of inner struggle, cultural loss, personal tragedy, and political despair that I can easily say it was—if not the hardest year of my life—right up there with the year my dad died, my first love and I broke up for good, and I found out I was HIV-positive.
2016 taught me how to fear again. It began with the Orlando Massacre, and it blossomed up again after the election and the wave of hate crimes that followed in its wake. It’s a gnawing fear for my own health and safety, and the lives of those I love. I haven’t known fear like this since since I was a young faggot living in SoCal, when I would feel it’s ragged claws down my spine in those moments when a boy would grab my hand in public—now it bubbles up from deep inside of me in unexpected times.
I’m great in a crisis but kind of terrible in situations of prolonged stress, and I’ve really been doing my best not to drown my fear and anxiety in smokey seas of brown liquor, (with mixed results). I managed things really well for the most part, until that chilly corridor between Christmas and New Years Eve, which I flung myself into like Bruce Willis fleeing an exploding helicopter, and skidded out the other side with one of the worst colds I think I’ve ever experienced. I went too hard, just trying to feel at ease, and my body rebelled. But my friends rallied to me, and I pulled through.
I’ve been living in Atlanta for about four months now and I love it with all my heart. I love the people, and the skyline, and the food. But the thing I love most by far is the deep sense of community that I’ve found here. It’s scary, to leave your home and move to the other end of the Empire. There were other paths I could have taken, and I sometimes wonder if I should have taken other paths. But when I look around I find myself surrounded by the most amazing faemily—seriously, the best team a person could possibly ask for—and I know I made the right choice. I know that I am in the place where I can do the most good, shoulder to shoulder with the best possible people with whom to face the troubled times ahead.