I don’t know about you, but I was more than ready to say goodbye to 2016. Okay, that sounds pretty dramatic. And I can see (now) that it wasn’t completely horrible, but it definitely was bittersweet. Quite a few chapters ended, many of them unexpectedly, and they closed so quickly it nearly made me dizzy. I barely had a chance to catch my breath; I had to keep going.

I started a new job at the same time that my boyfriend of many years and I parted ways. Not only was I beginning a new career, I was also moving out of my old home and into a new one. As I adjusted to 9-5 life, I also had to readjust to living with roommates. I had to adjust to not having someone waiting for me when I got home, asking me about my day. I had to learn to be alone again. Needless to say, this was a lot.

But I also gained the beautiful experience of living with two other women, of fortifying bonds of friendship, sharing stories and space. I gained an opportunity to rediscover who I am in a new way. This rediscovery began when I gave up drinking nearly two years ago, but I was also in a relationship at the time, a relationship that defined me in many ways. Without the definition of a relationship, my identity once again altered shape. Though painful, it was necessary. I had to find out how to stand on my own two feet.

After such a whirlwind of activity, I was more than ready to start a new year. To welcome whatever was in store for me. But when my New Year’s Eve plans fell through at 11:30pm, leaving everything up in the air, I wasn’t feeling so welcoming. Midnight was a half hour away and suddenly my friend and I were planless; I worried that 2017 was going to be more of the same. But rather than give up, we decided to go and try to see our friend’s band. We knew it was most likely sold out, but we thought we’d give it a try. Sure enough, the venue was sold out. What to do?

It was ten minutes to midnight. We were out of options and didn’t want to spend the countdown to the new year standing outside near a heat lamp. So we headed across the street to the nearby dive bar, the Lucky Star. We’d had some fun nights at Lucky Star, where they host karaoke on Friday nights, but had stopped going when one of our friends was injured by a drunken a-hole. Here went nothing.

We walked into the bar and, once again, everything changed. Suddenly New Year’s Eve went from disappointing to something else entirely. Sometimes things change in the blink of an eye, like my life did last year. Only this time, nothing fell apart. I saw someone when my friend and I walked into the Lucky Star. I saw him and he saw me. Sometimes things happen so fast you don’t know what hit you. Sometimes it’s like you’re meant to walk into a dive bar at five minutes to midnight. Just when you’re least expecting it, everything can change.

You can shy away from this, from the sudden turn that almost leaves you breathless. Or you can quit overanalyzing everything and just lean into it. You can try to ignore the signs and write them off as coincidence. Or you can decide to listen to whatever it is that seems to be telling you something. You can tell yourself that it’s too soon, too fast. Or you can see the signs and attempt to follow them, to find out what’s in store for you, to let the story unfold. To trust that everything happens as it should.

So that’s what I did. I decided to enter 2017, a new year, by following the signs that seemed to have been placed before me, by surrendering to whatever outcome. It could end badly, but who knows? You don’t know unless you try. And if 2016 taught me anything, it’s that no one knows what the future holds.

I wish you a wild, free life.

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