Good Riddance, 2015

        It’s already December. 2015 went by entirely too quick. This year I took on a project (sort of) by posting a picture a day of things that made me happy. I called it my “365 Days of Happy”. With the year coming to a close, although I started this project of happy, 2015 was a tough year for my family and I. Looking back, this year was probably harder on my family than for myself. My hardest year so far was 2013, but still 2015 for almost everyone I knew was difficult. The way that I am I know that I can see the hard times more than the good. It’s more obvious to see the bad when it outweighs the good. I started thinking to myself what my best years of the past decade were. Once I sat down to really think about it I’ve had equally bad and good years between 2005-2015.
        2005 for me was a pretty decent year. In the past decade I have some years that are neither good nor bad, but there are events that stick out for me. 2005 was definitely one of those years. That summer I rode a plane for the first time. I traveled to Los Angeles with my cousin on a much needed vacation. That was a highlight for me. I got to see LA for the first time and I got to do it with my best friend. The downside of that year is that once we returned from that trip my cousin and I had a falling out and didn’t talk for nearly five years after that which affected me for a while afterwards (and to this day if I’m being honest with myself). For 2005 there’s lots of memories there, but these are the two events that shaped that year for me, both good and bad.
       2007 was probably my best year so far and it was for one reason only. I got a chance to go to Australia. It was a big deal to me because ever since I was younger out of my top five places that I’ve ever wanted to visit Oz was always number 1. Sometimes, even now, if I feel like I haven’t accomplished all that I wanted so far, I remind myself that at 24 I got a chance to go to the one place I’ve always wanted to go. Not many 24 year olds can say that. At least not one that has been through the financial strain that I’ve had. What made that trip even better was that I got an opportunity to go on this trip through the National Dean’s List. This program was also awarded to 80 different students throughout the US. I met some great people on that trip. There’s a good number of people that I’m still friends with today and although we don’t talk much I love them to death and hope that they’ll always be apart of my life in some way.
        2008 was another great year. That summer alone was filled with a lot of changes. I was accepted to Columbia College Chicago. After getting in things seemed to be rocky because getting approved for student loans took forever, but two weeks before classes started everything fell into place. Within a week I was able to find an apartment in Chicago and move. It was as if the universe was working in my favor for once. I got to meet some great people at that school and also I had some great professors. I really loved that school. It was home for me. I really felt like I fit in there.
       2009 was a pretty good year. Like 2005, it was equal parts good and bad. While still adjusting to life in a big city, like Chicago, it took me nine months to find employment. By the time I did find a job I couldn’t afford to stay in school so I had to dropout, unfortunately. The job that I did get was at Borders bookstore. To this day it was the best job I’d ever had. I will admit at the time I didn’t 100% see that because the hours weren’t all that great and a lot of days I went without eating, but I did recognize for the most part that I was working with some pretty great people. I walked into a place where everyone was pretty tight and most accepted me as one of them. I really loved those guys and still do. Hell, even the ones that irritated me I miss.
        In 2010 Borders was in it’s last year so I had to find another job. The bad news is it was at Comcast. That job was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I hated that place with a passion. Although since I didn’t start this job until the summer that deep hatred didn’t come until later into the year if not the next. This year was also the first year that I attended Lollapalooza. That deepened my love for this city. I love a good festival, concerts, live shows, a great crowd, and being stuck in a moment where everyone seems to be vibing on the same wavelength. I got to see some of my favorite bands that year like, Stars, Rouge Wave, The Strokes, Matt & Kim, Foxy Shazam, Company of Thieves, and my absolute favorite Gogol Bordello. Not to mention I was able to talk my way into the Gogol Bordello aftershow. That alone was the highlight of the summer. The other highlight of this summer was watching the filming of the third Transformers movie. I was a bit obsessed. On days that I worked, I’d hop on the train to downtown and watch the night shoots. On my days off I’d get up insanely early to watch and stay until the late evening. The creeping paid off because I got to meet Josh Duhamel. I was actually supposed to be an extra, but with my work schedule that fell through.
        The bad outweighed the good in 2011, but the great events that happened this year were definitely huge. January of that year my father had a stroke and that was hard because I could only return home for a short time. As the year went on the bad was that I was starting to see how horrible Comcast really was. My stress levels were through the roof. I gained a ton of weight because of it and because of that I fractured my foot early that summer. Even though while I was off on a medical leave and my pay was being screwed with that summer was the best summer thus far. I finally got a chance to see my second favorite band in the world, U2, and it was amazing. Not even a month after seeing U2 I also got a chance to finally see Paul McCartney. Let me tell you, Sir Paul knows how to put on a show. It was also my second year to Lollapalooza. This year Coldplay was one of the headliners. I will say that out of all the shows I’ve ever been to in my life I have never seen anyone put on a show like Coldplay. It was beyond amazing. I also got to see Kid Cudi, Flogging Molly, Friendly Fires, The Kills, and Patrick Stumph. That was definitely a great end to my summer.
        2012 was like riding an intense roller coaster. The start of the year I slowly climbed uphill. By the time spring had arrived I reached the top. I received notice that I was being evicted from my place in Chicago. Down we go. That entire spring and summer I spent every day I had off searching for apartments. Those days I spent at least eight hours online, on the phone, or walking entire neighborhoods searching for a place. I had never given that much effort to anything in my life. Still the sharp turns and smalls drops from all the rejections came one after another, but I kept going. I guess deep down I knew I was going to be defeated, but there was no way I was going to give in. That summer was my last Lollapalooza. It was a much needed distraction. The headliners were big that year. I got to see Black Sabbath, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Jack White. I also got the opportunity to meet Dhani Harrison and the rest of TheNewNo2 and, one of my favorites, Passion Pit. The last concert I saw in Chicago was The Monkees that November. I couldn’t think of a better way to end a wild ride. I said goodbye to Chicago December 6, 2012 and my roller coaster ride came to a stop.
        2013, like I said before, was my worst year to date. That is because my roller coaster ride came to a stop and I was still stuck in the seat. It’s as if the whole amusement park shut down and forgot I was there. I then shut down. I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to live. Everything just hurt. There was a such a sadness that clouded me that it made me numb. My friends went ghost and no one seemed to notice how much pain I was in. I was also forced to see my father’s growing drug habit which I spent years in denial about. It was just something to add to my already low point. March of that year my aunt was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It just added to the cloud. That year she went through multiple surgeries. The first to remove the cancerous tumor. The next was a non-cancerous tumor on her brain stem that developed later than year. Not much else occurred that year since this is the year that my life froze.
        2014 really was no different than 2013. More bad than good. I was still stuck in a deep depression. At least in this year I felt like I was free to leave the roller coaster. Now I was just wondering through a dark amusement park alone looking for an exit. That summer my cousin had to bury her first born son who was shot and killed. He was only a 16 year old kid. That was a blow to my family. My aunt’s health was up and down. Throughout the year her health was more up than down until the end of the year. A week after Thanksgiving she went into the hospital where she stayed for over a month. No one in the family knew that it would be the last time she’d see home. That December was strange. It seemed as though we spent most of that time getting all of her personal affairs in order. I just remember I couldn’t imagine knowing that this was it and getting everything together before I left this world. Although I had spent the better part of these last few years in a deep darkness it seemed as though I was the only family member really thinking that she was going to make it through. When she made it into the new year and got to see the start of 2015 I was certain of it.
        That brings us to this year. Even though I was still hopeful I knew this year was going to be another tragic one which is why I decided to start my “365 Days of Happy” project. I needed something to remind me that there is something happy in each and every day. About a week into the new year my aunt was moved from the hospital to hospice where she stayed for only eight days. Barely two weeks into the new year and we had to plan a funeral. That’s how our year started. For my family it seems as though they’ve been hit with blow after blow this year. They’ve been hit with one possibly losing her home and another losing her job after 34+ years of service because the plant is closing it’s doors*. More health scares as well as the continued mourning for my aunt as we close in on a year of her death. I’ve spent this year trying to turn all past, present, and future negatives into positives. As hard as it was I see that there was no other choice but for me to leave Chicago when I did. Had I still been there when my aunt got sick I would’ve had to fight tooth and nail with Comcast in order to get some sort of time off to spend with my family. This year I spent trying to get back on my feet. This summer I found two jobs. I’ve tried to grow my social circle and reconnected with some old friends. These past few years have been rough. Very very rough. I try to dip my toes in the positivity pool, but there’s still a cloud that hovers over me. I won’t deny that. There’s still a bitterness and sadness that lingers from 2013. With that still in mind even though it is now December 7, 2015 I still feel that there is time for 2015 to turn things around and end on a good note. My family and I deserve it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed on that one. There’s always a rainbow after the storm and I, for one, think this storm has lingered for far too long. Here’s to hoping that 2016 is far more kind.


-Asia Aneka Anderson
      

*I hope you guys respect and understand that I don’t want to go into personal details here of ongoing situations.

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