In all actuality, this time last year is hard to remember. Maybe it's the stress from everything that was going on, or just some kind of safety mechanism in my brain blocking out how bad I felt, or maybe I just was tired of feeling by then. Either way, I only remember last December as fact more so than experience. I remember sitting very still on the couch from my apartment after it had been moved into my parents basement. I remember sending e-mails to my school and department heads informing them that I was not coming back. I don't remember Christmas or New Year's, or what family, if any, was in town.
This time last year was the settling of dust after the abrupt collapse of a building four years in the making. Later I would be forced to pick myself up and reassemble, but for these few weeks last year I was permitted to just lie down and think of nothing. It was, in retrospect, quite necessary.
It's strange to think that a whole year has gone by since then. In a way it feels like decades, but at the same time like just yesterday. I feel like I have so little to show for this year. All I've done, really, is work retail and write poetry. Even so, this time last year was a whole human being ago. Part of the reason I have such a hard time remembering that time is perhaps because the person who went through it doesn't really exist anymore. There were arguments and explanations, acceptances and refusals, far too many misunderstandings, and encouragements from the least likely of places, all of which effectively killed off the shame of failure.
That's what sticks out the most from back then, trying to deal with the fact that I had, for the first time in my life really, truly failed. It's still difficult to articulate, especially in the deadly arena of casual smalltalk.
"So, you've graduated, right?"
"Yeah, over a year ago."
"Is that so! What have you been doing since then?"
"Oh, not much, just pissing my life away. You see, I thought I was going to pursue an academic career studying religion, but found out that choosing one minute area of research to read about the rest of my life, with absolutely no time to do anything else that might make even remotely happy, made me want to ram my head through my crappy apartment's living room window. So now I work at the mall."
I've always hated smalltalk. But the point is, it doesn't bother me anymore. What happened is what happened, I don't regret it or feel embarrassed by it, I can look back on it with the clarity of distance and "now-I-know-better."
As for the future, I'm not really any more certain about it this year than I was last. There are some prospects, but I don't want to discuss them too much for fear that they won't pan out, and I'll end up looking like an idiot. For now I'm content with having spent my holiday season with people I love and haven't seen in a very long time. I got to talk about common things, like fudge recipes and my cousin's dating lives. I got to watch the youngest members of my family do the robot and sing Adele. I got to hear stories, about military life, deceased loved ones, Africa, and crazy neighbors who knock possums off their porch with a frying pan.
In short, it's been a good time, and right now I don't need anything more than that.