2016: A Year in Review or, Accepting Improvisation / by Orey Wilson

This is the best time of the year. The holidays are over and New Years day has come. Now we begin to toss out all the things we said goodbye to in the previous year and showcase the hope and inspiration celebrated at that champagne-tinted midnight. Now is when we get to work.

There were a lot of people freaking out about how terrible last year was. Obviously, everyone had different experiences but, for me, it wasn't an easy one.

Long story short, I began 2016 with a hopeful relationship, a job I loved, a slew of classes left for my degree, and plans to find a new apartment in Philadelphia when the summer rolled around. Unfortunately, by the end of February, I didn't have any of those things. The relationship ended suddenly, I was laid-off my job which caused me to rearrange my classes, graduate early, and relocate back to Columbus.

Now, at the time, this was heartbreaking for me. All my resolutions were crumbling and my life felt as stable as if it were built over some Indiana Jones-inspired trap door, sitting 10 feet above a pit of disgruntled. serpents. I saw others around me in turmoil over politics, accidents, losses, and deaths. By December, it seemed that everyone was tonsil-deep with a gun and ready for 2017 to just end it all already.

But, this all got me thinking: How bad off was I, really? The relationship ending probably saved me a lot of grief when the relocation back to Ohio would've come. The job I had was wonderful but now I'm working at a job that is more in my field and connecting me with other area writers. I'm living in a place I could've never afforded in Philly and I'm around my old friends who I missed like fucking crazy (although, you shouldn't tell them. I have a hardened, brooding reputation to keep up).

As I prepared for my New Years celebration, I considered everything that had happened in the previous 12 months. My life had been completely uprooted but I couldn't say I was worse-off. When trying to sum up that time in a single, "2016 was the year of ____" phrasing, I could only think of one thing: Accepting Improvisation.

We all deal with improvisation in our daily lives. A car accident sends us on a new road for our commute. A stain on our favorite shirt makes us pick out a new outfit for that big, first date. Netflix takes our favorite show off their collections before we finish all the episodes, forcing us to find something brand new to watch (this is hitting particularly close to home at the moment... I was almost done getting through Chopped, you bastards). 

Improvisation and coming up with new means to our ends isn't easy. When our newest president was elected, many people had to swerve off their chosen paths and find a new way to make their lives make sense. Some people shut down, not sure if there was any chance to get at their goals. Some just got angry, refusing to believe it. But, if 2016 has done anything for me, it has taught me how to diverge from one road onto one three blocks down, take an extra three left turns, and still make it where I need to go. Sure it takes a little more time, more gas, and more understanding of the cardinal directions, but you might find a new Thai restaurant that you wouldn't have passed before (hope you made it through that metaphor. Yes? We're good? Wonderful). I'm not saying life will get any easier or any worse as 2017 burst open around us. But, I feel ready to take anything it's willing to give me and make it work for me. 

Now that I'm home from my New Years celebrations and have a moment to sit, breathe, listen to Carole King's Tapestry three times, and quietly celebrate to myself. I have no idea what is going to happen in 2017, but I'm excited to my core to find out. And, I know that when I see that unexpected construction in the street ahead of me, I'll be ready to turn off my GPS, turn up the radio, and just enjoy the drive.