Another year passes by, and another approaches just around the riverbend…I mean the corner.  I’ve had some serious ups and downs this year, but looking around I know that lots of other people have too.  I can’t pretend that my life was awful and that “2009 was the worst year ever” like I’ve heard so many times in the past few days.  With social networking being what it is, Facebook and Twitter have been teeming with all the same-old-same-old colloquialisms about how this year was just awful and that hopefully next year will be better.  But these are the same people who said the exact same thing last year, and will say the same next year.  I had a mix of good and bad, but I won’t forget either to favor the other.

January was the beginning of my unemployment.  I’d been laid off from CitiGroup effective the end of December, and I began what I thought would only be a short stint of being jobless.  Little did I know that it would be another 6 months before I would get so much as an interview, let alone another 2 months after that before I’d finally find a job (thanks to a former Citi coworker [further proving that it’s more “who you know” than “what you know”]).  In the meantime, I started my own IT consulting company, which didn’t take off quite as well as I wanted.  It kept money flowing in while I had no job, but it wasn’t anywhere near being an income replacement.  The company still exists and I still work under the company name, but it’s not on a level with what I was hoping for.  I can only hope that word will continue to spread, and that it will get bigger over time.

In March I traveled out to Arizona to help out my grandmother while my grandfather was in the hospital.  He spent weeks in the hospital developing numerous complications, and there was a period of time where my grandmother finally broke down, fearing that she would lose him.  While she was in the hospital dealing with doctors and nurses and waiting to hear back after yet another surgery, I had the task of going outside and calling my father and aunt and uncle to let them know that there might come a time shortly when they’d need to come out immediately to say their final good-byes.  The calls were hard to make, but luckily it never came to that.  He recovered, albeit slowly, and I left shortly before he was released from rehab to finally make it home again.  I saw him again many months later when they visited Texas, and it brought a smile to my face to see him up and walking around again after having seen him so weak in a hospital bed for so long.

My birthday rolled around (again) in May, and Keith made it the best birthday ever.  He treated me so special and made a big deal out of it, something that I’ve never really had done, but always not-so-secretly wanted.  He did that for me, and I’ll never forget it.  And it wasn’t just that day either, but all the time.  He makes the littlest things feel so important and wonderful, and it makes life so much more enjoyable.  He gives me reasons to smile when I feel like nothing is going as it should.

Summer flew by and at the end of August I finally got a job.  I’m still a consultant, but a job as a temp is better than no job at all, and maybe someday soon it’ll become a permanent position.  I can only hope.  Going from such a structured and intense work environment like Citi to somewhere as relaxed and enjoyable as where I’m at now was a wonderful bit of culture shock.  I was prepared to be immersed in the corporate world all over again, but it never really happened.  I work at a high rise in Dallas, and I feel fancy when I go into work every day, but it’s a job that I finally feel a sense of accomplishment for doing.  Like what I come into the office for each morning makes a difference somehow, and that I’m not just answering a phone call from someone making well over six figures asking me how to open their email and print a file anymore.

November was my one year anniversary with Keith.  It’s hard to look back on the past year and realize that Keith has been there the whole time.  I never thought I’d have someone like that, someone so wonderful in my life, there by my side through it all.  He’s been there for me, and I’ve been there for him.  Things are going so great.  It’s frustrating to me that many of my family members have no desire to meet this person so special to me.  That because I’m not in the kind of relationship they want (with a woman), my relationship can’t possibly be real or loving or as fulfilling as theirs.  Those that have taken the time to meet him have all told me how obvious it is that we’re wonderful together.  In over a year of being together, I’ve never introduced him to a single person who has later said anything negative about him or us as a couple.  I even had the chance to meet some of his coworkers and his manager for his department’s Christmas party this year, and he told me later that they all enjoyed meeting me as well.  I wish that people would open their eyes and hearts and realize that even though things aren’t always what you want or think should be, they can still be really great.  I love Keith with all my heart, something I make sure to tell him every single day.  How many other people can say the same thing?

This last month has been a trying one.  I almost failed my first Master’s level course in college, but I barely pulled it out at the end of the semester by studying hard for the final and sliding by with a C.  That’s not something I’m terribly proud of, but at least I passed.  I made an effort to understand a course with material that was in no way familiar or easy to me, and I made it.  I got very sick the day after Christmas – sicker than I think I’ve ever been before – and could barely walk around the apartment that morning.  And then Keith came over.  He took care of me.  He got me to eat food, even though I couldn’t keep anything down.  He went out and bought me Sprite to calm my stomach, and nausea medicine to help even more.  He stayed by my side all day, even when the medicine knocked me out on the couch.  I’ve taken care of him when he’s been sick, but I hadn’t been sick enough for him to have to do the same for me.  That day opened my eyes as to yet another reason he’s so wonderful.  When the situation calls for it, I know I can lean on him for support.  I can’t even articulate how comforting that is.

The day after I was so sick, I woke up feeling not great, but much better than before.  As the day rolled on I improved, and Keith and I even made a trip to Arlington to visit my dad.  On the way home we were in an accident.  Neither of us were hurt, but as I got my insurance card out of the glove compartment I looked in the rearview mirror to see the woman drive off.  I didn’t have time to get a license plate number.  I didn’t even have a chance to get out and look at the damage to my car.  An eye witness a few moments later came up to us and told us that she’d seen the woman driving the other vehicle actually get out of her car, check the damage to her own vehicle, and then get back in and drive off.  Unfortunately the witness hadn’t seen the license plate either, but I still appreciate her coming over and giving me her info in case it helped.  All-in-all over $1500 worth of damage was done to my car, and with the bumper tied to my car with rope so it wouldn’t fall off and cause another accident, I took it in today to a body shop and left it there for repairs.  My insurance covers all but my deductible, and even got me a rental car, so the situation isn’t as bad as it could be.  It just frustrates and hurts me that someone out there is so callous and selfish that she caused an accident, then made sure her own car was safe to drive and then fled.

But even with the ups and the downs, the goods and the bad, the best of times and worst of times, I feel that 2009 wasn’t a waste.  It wasn’t the worst year ever.  It was just a year.  One which I’m happy to see over in many ways, but will still look back on and smile for the good times it holds.  2010 is going to be here shortly, and I go into it with my head held high hoping to make good things happen for myself and for those around me.  It’s not just the beginning of a new year, but of a new decade.  Bring it on life.