Winter seems not to come this year. It is warmer in New York than California on Christmas Eve. I get sick at home for over a week, spend New Year's Eve on the couch by myself (though my family did Skype me from the party at midnight!) and then gift my dad with my cold the day before I leave.
I feel my whole life has changed irrevocably in the past six months. In some ways I feel I have found my "old self" in this work. There was this time when I looked back on my graduate school life and thought, "that was me at my best self." I felt I'd peaked in my personal growth, back there in the rich academic atmosphere of Duke, amongst my internships and sense of hope. This job has awoken everything in me that I always loved about being a graduate student - the sense that I am learning something new every day, that I have great responsibility for others, that I must be humble and remake myself daily in order to succeed. My mom tells me she thinks I found something that I'd lost, that this time she feels I am well again, in a way that I hadn't been in years.
At the same time, my dance partnership has taken off. Everyone always told me that it takes at least two years for a partnership to really gel and I feel this is finally true. Our coach asked C and myself a month ago, "what do you think you found in the last week that you didn't have before?" And although we cannot seem to verbalize it, there is a shared stability and an ability to predict one another's actions that is becoming utterly dependable. And of course, there was the competition at the beginning of December - my first since my foot has totally healed. I hopped, skipped and swung through it, with no pain. A true triumph after over a year of recovery.
The new Star Wars comes out and the flame of my old obsessions reawaken. When I am home for the holidays I use my days off to sit in a big armchair and I read and read and read like I used to when I was in grade school. My mom and I make pork buns together. And yet none of this feels like a regression, it feels like a natural return to myself, as if I'd finally come back to my own skin.
Of course there are the changes too: my niece grows more precocious by the day, even as my grandparents are slowing down. Life is perhaps never more bittersweet when I see my grandmother struggling to care for my grandfather as he weakens, even as my niece is just beginning to explore the capacity of her mind.
Last year I made resolutions for the year - to read more, to focus on self care, to open myself up to others, to develop a new life plan and pursue it. This year will be the year of others. In my life and dance and work, I hope to strive for excellence in service of the needs of others. This will be a year to remember.