527,0400 minutes came and went in 2016 and while it is impossible to measure, capture or even remember all the wonderful things that happened, here are 6 of my favorite moments.
1. Moving in with my love. We found our dream apartment on a cold weekend in February. Sipping on cocktails between showings had us more than ready to sign a lease by the fifth apartment. Celebratory cocktails at Freeman’s became a tradition after that afternoon. And New York slowly became home.
2. An unexpected invitation. It was early June, but the days were already long and hot. We had been invited to the birthday dinner of our neighbor on the 11th floor. He and his wife had just moved to New York from Germany and were earnest in their intention to make new friends. We walked the distance to the restaurant, arriving about 20 minutes late and forced to take seats apart from one another at the table. Immediately I detected more than 5 different languages being spoken across the table. New and old friends from Austria, Germany, Italy, and more had gathered to celebrate. We shared wine and stories until the staff began putting empty chairs on empty tables, indicating it was time to go home. Initially unclear as to how we had arrived there, amidst people we barely knew, the marvel of New York City had made itself clear. It will always give back to what you put in. Adventure, experience, or new friends from around the world.
3. Failed missions turned into found adventures. Like our first stop on a weekend road trip where we were duped by what must have been 37 fake 4.5 star reviews on AirBnB. The pictures showed a cozy room for two inside of a clean home. Instead we encountered dozens of empty or opened beer bottles and a variety of different pipes for uses I could only imagine. There was a film of grease on every appliance's surface and dirty dishes sat moldy in the sink, begging to be washed. A layer of dust thick on every surface, including the floor, putting dirt on my shoes as opposed to the opposite. Declining to shower for fear we would leave with more than we came with – hepatitis c or likewise – we left the keys on the table and drove to the local coffee shop as soon as the sun came up. At 7:15AM on a Saturday morning, we sat waiting for the town to open up, laughing about the events of last night. Excited, but a little bit nervous for whatever else laid ahead.
4. Coming home from Cuba without a penny to our name. It was our first time to Cuba and we had been unable to take out money as originally planned. Additional trouble with our bank left us dependent on my younger brother to withdraw cash from his not so grown up bank account. We were 3 people with 5 days in Cuba and no more than $300 to our name. After an unsatisfying 3 way shared entree at a lovely restaurant, we exchanged our tourist currency for the local currency and tourist spots for more local establishments. We had interesting and questionable meals, indulged in cheap bottles of rum and made Cuba Libres at home on the patio. We arrived at the airport without a penny to our name, sharing a bag of chips, praying our flight wouldn't be delayed or cancelled. We laughed as the plane took off, counting down the minutes to a meal with identifiable ingredients. And less daunting bathroom experiences. However, that trip we had prepared so little, and budgeted so poorly, that it left us to truly experience something based on feel, thought, vibe, and instinct. It led us to the organic moments we crave with every trip. By getting it so wrong, it finally felt right. But next time, we will definitely bring more money. ;)
5. 36 hours in Paris. The first time Todd and I visited Paris was in the summer of 2015, during a rather difficult time in both of our lives. It was there we would say goodbye for what could have been forever. Todd had decided prior to our trip that time apart was best for us over the next several months, unsure of his ability to commit after our unconventional convergence. Perhaps unsure of mine as well. We had run full speed into each other the previous few months, and he wanted to be certain it was because of what was in front of us, and not behind. The inevitable goodbye was always in the back of our minds, which only made us hold on tighter for the short amount of time we had together. Every sweet moment turning bitter at the thought of it all coming to an end. We went back for a long weekend in November of 2016 to re-experience the city as lovers once again. To be back, walking those same narrow streets hand in hand with the man I love so dear was surreal. It didn’t feel like the second time, but the 100th time. I knew then my soul had loved him for lifetimes, not months and not years.
6. Blending families. My family is rather large, a bit eccentric and very blended. Todd got the ultimate introduction during an eventful family vacation to Tulum, Mexico. He endured the chaos and quickly became a part of it. A failed "watch this" moment where he slipped before completing a successful flip into pool drew initial fear, subsequent embarrassment, and endless amounts of laughter - the key ingredients for fitting right in with my family. I too left the familiar discord to spend Christmas with Todd's family - equally anxious and excited. While reflecting on the weekend, I experienced and incredibly feeling of warmth. From the bellies of babies pressed against mine as they slept in drool stained santa outfits. From the tamales at Christmas Eve dinner to my flushed face as I tried to use my best spanish salutations for hello and goodbye. More than anything, the kindness and embrace of everyone I met and spent time with. New family and new traditions were the best gift in 2016. And a deeper more meaningful appreciation for my own.
By Chelsie Maki