On Sunday, July 6th, I turned another year older. It’s been a roller coaster year for sure full of twists, turns, and belly turning drops. The analogy is well suited since a week prior I took a trip with the family to one of the roller coaster capitals of the world, Ohio’s Cedar Point. 14 of us visited the park over two days and rode one thrilling coaster after another. The entire family rode the Millennium Force which features a 300′ drop at 80 degrees. We camped just outside the amusement park and had a ton of fun playing games and enjoying each other’s company. The vacation was probably one of the best I’ve ever had and the bonding that went on with my family and cousins was really special.
For my birthday, and our nation’s birthday, I went to Ocean City with some new friends and showed them a town that has treated me to rest and relaxation for so many years. Evan and his girlfriend Noelle came with me and we did all the regular touristy things in Ocean City. We spent Friday morning on the warm and sunny beach with occasional (brief) dips to the 60 degree water. It had been over a year since I had been to the actual beach at Ocean City but we had a lot of fun chatting and checking out the scenery. That evening we celebrated the nation’s birthday at Seacrets with Keefer and Lindsey. A storm was rolling in so they started the fireworks early and almost immediately following the heavens opened up and unleashed a torrential down pour. We huddled under the dance canopy initially but eventually found refuge in an empty hallway upstairs until the rain stopped and we were able to catch the bus home.
Saturday featured a late breakfast at the Bayside Skillet and then a competitive game of mini-golf. Afterwards we walked the boardwalk and shopped in between rain storms. We closed the night at Harpoon Hanna’s Tiki Bar. It was a really great weekend and it was a lot of fun getting to know Evan and Noelle. They are really chill people and very interesting.
I’ve struggled a lot this year but I’ve also grown a lot. Tough times are great opportunities to test your character and inner strength. I failed early on this year but I’ve put a lot of effort into recovering and making myself stronger. I’ve sought help and given in completely to the advice of professionals. I’ve surrounded myself with family and friends and I think that with their help and my own determination, I am in a better place now. I’m stronger, more confident and have a greater understanding of my own mind. The path was long and riddled with obstacles, many of which were created by my own ignorance, and my journey continues even now. I look toward the future with certain reservations and concerns, but I’m better prepared now than I have ever been to face it. This year has been one of the toughest I’ve ever known but it’s also been the one in which I have grown the most. A close friend of mine has started his own journey recently and I hope that he finds the same small successes that I have.
So some highlights from my most recent year on earth: