Since this time last year / my birthday

Since this time last year, I’ve shed yet another layer of proverbial skin. Today, there are moon phases tattooed on my chest, and Death sits on my thigh, holding an hourglass and a scythe.* I’m nursing a sore right elbow; two days ago it was permanently decorated with a bright red rose. I’ve gained a lot of tattoos in the last 12 months.

My hair is longer. My weight, compared to this time last year? I’ve got no idea, and I don’t care. The fluctuations have been non-stop, but that’s fine.

My nail polish is the color of moss (or weed, depending on my mood when you ask). We spent yesterday hiking and watching bald eagles, crows, dippers, and seagulls, all congregated around a river filled with rough-looking salmon struggling to swim upstream. Today, we’re making food to share with friends who are coming over later.

In the last few years I’ve started really seeing myself in the mirror. Not an approximation of myself (“me, but fat” or “me, but with bleached hair”), but really, truly: me. It’s almost impossible to explain, but these minor changes I’ve been making to my appearance are doing something to the way I see myself. They’re bringing my exterior appearance closer to my internal state.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to elaborate on this and explain it properly. Today is not that day.

With each of these new, permanent artworks, and with each inch of hair that grows from my head, and with each time that I apply the kind of makeup that makes it hard to tell whether or not I’m wearing any at all, and each time I put on an outfit that feels as good as it looks, and I look in the mirror–

“There she is”, I think. And it’s happening more and more.

This is a new sensation.

I’ve lost friends this year. They were people I thought I was close to, could talk to about anything and everything. I blame myself for setting off the events themselves, but I tried to fix things. I soul-searched and analyzed my behavior, learned from it, apologized. I also set some boundaries.

Unfortunately, even though I tried to work things out, my idea of how to move on wasn’t compatible with theirs. So it was – abruptly – over.

It is what it is. I don’t dwell. Life is too good to spend any more emotional energy on it, especially with so much to look forward to, and so many people ready to share their futures with ours.

I’m mildly stressed that our move home has been delayed to mid-February.

It was around September or October last year that we’d decided to move home in the next 12 months. Since that decision, we’ve been emotionally ready to go back. But my contract was going well and ending in September 2019 anyway, so we stuck it out.

Our dog’s breed mix caused some delays in obtaining his permit, so October got pushed to November, which got pushed to December, then January, and now an embargo on animal cargo traveling to Melbourne has pushed us back to mid-February.


We’re okay. We’re better than okay. We’re staying with family for the interim. We’ll get loads of time to hang out with them, we’ll get to experience the holiday season with them for the first time, and we’ll get to explore Vancouver. Selling the car will be easier here. We’ll be in less of a rush when it comes to completing Rigby’s pre-flight vet work.

There are plenty of positives. Nothing beats getting home, but we’re going to have fun in the meantime. We’ve consciously chosen to make the most of it.

So, I’m 35 now, and how do I feel?

I feel good. I feel healthier than ever (less animal products and more yoga and hiking will do that). I feel excited. I feel the beginning of another big, transformative period. I’m also nervous; about finding a home in Melbourne, a job… but I’ll be okay.

I don’t even know what age I truly feel anymore. Sometimes I feel like a child that’s seeing the world for the first time, and other times I feel like someone who’s seen too much – emotionally spent, because I know how the world works, and I know much of it is wrong.

That’s okay, too. The dichotomy is okay.

I’m lucky. To be in love, to be loved, to be alive, to have the privilege of all these experiences. To have a loving family and deep friendships. To have such an incredible place and amazing people to go home to.

34 was great. Let’s see what 35 has in store for me.

*I recently learned that I’m descended from the Sexsmith family, which is an alternate spelling of Suxsmith, which means Scythesmith. That has nothing to do with the decision to get a Death tattoo, but I found it interesting.