Saturday, December 27, 2014

a sheynem dank, 2014!

Our life tends to be somewhat chaotic.  We sometimes move country and city.  We leave friends behind.  We make new ones.  Life is constant change for us.  Which is good.  I like it.  But it also means I really do need sit back and take a look at what the year brought for us, to appreciate all its complexity, to be thankful, and to remember what's important.  We could also say that my memory works in a very UNchronological way, and that this is the only tool I have of putting some order inside my head?

my inner polyglot errant

Though we didn't travel as much as we like - well, in all honestly, we'd never be able to afford travelling as much as we'd like! -, the two trips we did make were truly amazing.  Seeing Nova Scotia in January meant stunning landscapes and impossibly quaint towns under the unique ambiance of the Atlantic winter and, basically, having them all for ourselves (who'd be that crazy to travel there in the middle of winter, right?).  And Scotland in summer became, undoubtedly, one those trips that'll enter our relationship mythology as an impossibly beautiful and magical bonding experience.

I feel a little guilty including South Korea here, because it was a work trip and the huz couldn't join... But  anyhow, though short, it was incredibly eye-opening, and left me wanting more - and convinced I need to take the huz there someday!

And language-wise, I finally (finally!) got to take the Icelandic lessons I had always wanted! Super tough, but fun! And I've probably forgotten a good deal by now... but still, nothing beats trudging through snow at -20 °C (-4 °F) to practice twisting your tongue to a language still very similar to the one of the sagas, right? I was really lucky I was in a place like Toronto with a fairly decent Icelandic presence.  And talking about difficult languages, thanks to my trip to Korea (and my many hours in planes), now I can at least read hangul (the letters) and say a few expressions! A bit of Icelandic and Korean? Not bad!

my inner yid

I would have never guessed yiddishkeyt would enter my life as strongly as it did this year.  Maybe knowing that I'd leave such a Jewish-friendly city like Toronto really forced me to ratchet things up a notch or two and to make some decisions. Maybe I just had to leave all the ingredients I'd been gathering for many years cook and settle inside long enough.  Whichever way, I not only enjoyed Toronto's Jewish cultural life to the full, with film festivals, Yiddish lectures, Ashkenaz fests, café-cabaret-brunches, klezmer concerts, hora dancing... I also publicly and decidedly identified with that part of my heritage that originated so long ago in Southeastern Ukraine.

And, once in Mexico, I found myself with plenty of firsts: my first Rosh Hashana seder, my first Hanukka, my first mezuzah...  I'm usually always doing something, hurrying somewhere, being with someone, and these new rituals that ask for a moment of quiet, for a simple pause... they're really welcome. Plus, quite frankly, methinks I don't look that bad in a yarmulke, eh?

my inner queer

Now, what a year this was!  I'd have to be totally insane to complain.  I don't even know where to start!  That World Pride took place in Toronto meant I immersed myself in the queerest possible world ever. Not only was it the best I had partied in a very long time, it was the most I'd ever celebrated gender, sexual and orientation diversity and expression.  Madly!  That and a number of other things (film festivals, porn events, performance artists, inspiring writers) solidified my staunch conviction in the need for diversity and freedom. All the trans people I met, however briefly, during 2014, left me convinced that through their tenacity, honesty, humour, outness and loving this is becoming a better place. This was the year I decided to try and drop labels as much as possible, and made it a strategy to seek the more alternative crowds.  Because life was so much richer that way. At least for me.    

my inner Canuck

Excuse me for appropriating the title of "Canuck", but that's probably the best descriptor! I enjoy nature greatly, and 2014 sated my thirst for green, for mountains, for water and flowers.  Scotland, of course, was the highlight.  But even Toronto and its islands and parks gave me aplenty, including a spring that exploded crazily after an incredibly harsh winter.  And talking about winter, my inner Canuck totally enjoyed it!  I successfully drove through a snowstorm.  I did cross-country skiing!  I saw temperatures of -44 °C (-47.2 °F).  I walked on a frozen lake and on a frozen canal.  And I enjoyed spring's first warm sun-rays like you'd do an oasis in the desert.  The most brutal winter in a long time, and I was there, and I made the most out of it.  So many bragging rights! (of course, I don't "brag", but it's so fun to add this to one's list of experiences, isn't it!?)

my inner Post-Modern-Hippie?

No question about it, this was a year of love love love.  Now that I'm in Mexico, I got to finally experience again the true caring of my family in person through food, and toasts, and parties, and coffee, and museums, and long talks...  That was real food for the soul.

It was a year of bonding with friends, too, through gruelling cross-country ski sessions, through exhausting obstacle races, over home-brewed beer, over Chinese food, over vegan cupcakes. Note to self - food and adventure do friendships a whole lotta good.

And it was a year of enjoying and meeting new sweethearts/beaux/SOs (frigging labels!). The sweet and doting ginger too gentle to do sarcasm and too caring not to rush to my encounter when I felt depressed. The kind and loving transman who pushed me to my athletic limits - and who easily surpassed them, but with absolute grace - and who arranged for a candle-lit patio farewell. The genuine and free blue-eyed dancer with whom I lay in the sun on a romantic barge-tour, who's unafraid to love and unafraid to say it out loud. Good people that took me as I was, maddening quirks and all; good people through whom I discovered new sides to my own self; loving people who were gentle, non-judgemental, giving, and transparently honest; amazing people that brought light, warmth, a better me, and excitement.

Truly awesome gifts from 2014.

the huz

Last, but never least, the huz.  Honestly, I look back through 2014 and all I can see is this handsome, strong, artistic man standing by me.  Notwithstanding my weird and challenging nature, my changing interests, my globetrotting lifestyle, my porous heart. Growing, cultivating his almost too broad artistic interests, letting me enjoy his Butoh by frozen lakes and atop soaring ranges and even, after tending to everything his creative mind demands, still making sure I'm warm, fed, and happy.  After all I put him through this year, including tearing him away from one of the places he loved most, I see someone who yet again proved his determination, loyalty, honesty, and solid true love.  I'm one lucky bastard.   

So big, big thanks, 2014.  Totally.

P.S.  That photo on top at the very beginning of the post?  It's from an exhibition in Toronto this year. People from very different walks of life were asked to pose together.  And I think it represents wonderfully the idea of risking doing something new, meeting someone different, and putting yourself outside your comfort zone.  There was a lot of that for me this year.  And that was good.  

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