DEAR 2017

Dear 2017,

The last time I wrote a letter on New Year’s Eve was in Dallas, at the tail end of 2015. I’d done it two years prior, in an apartment in Paris on December 31, 2013, when I thought that–after a year of horses and travel and one of a kind adventures–that I wouldn’t have another year quite so good. But in 2015, looking back at a year of new experiences–a job, a move to DC, a book club, a few more tattoos–I thought the same. I didn’t think there would be a reason to write another letter.

Jumping into the lake was my idea. It was one of those ideas where it seems good in retrospect–I talk people into it, get everyone hyped up–only to realize its actually terrible in execution. It was December 30th: it was forty degrees and raining. I was the only one in my underwear.

I didn’t realize how big a lake can be in the dark. I wasn’t afraid of the cold–I’ve jumped into cold water before and I love the shock of it, the way it takes your breath away and leaves you feeling scrubbed clean and alive–I was petrified of the fact that there could be a thousand things we couldn’t see, like rusty pipes and broken bottles and not alligators because that would be impractical but something equally dangerous and snappy. We all agreed that we could back down if we wanted to, that we could put our shoes and coats back on and go home and no one would blame us. Georgie walked off the dock and I think Hillary was going to call it.

This was the worst idea and it was all mine. So I jumped. George followed. The dock was slippery and Hillary fell but George had a good grip and pulled her in.

I jumped because that’s what I want for 2018. I want to keep finding stuff I’m scared of, thinking of all the reasons I shouldn’t do it, and then jumping anyways. I want to jump when its freezing cold and inconvenient. I want to jump when I can’t see the bottom. I want to jump when its reckless and stupid. I want to jump because I know how good it feels to be on the other side, with lungs and skin and pride burning, how good it feels to be alive.

About a month ago, I was standing on a rock at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, watching the sun set and thinking about the last year. I think there’s a law in the universe that says, when you stand on a rock at sunset (or sunrise) while near a body of water, you have to think profound, melancholic things. And in that moment I was thinking, ‘this has been a long year.’

And then I realized, that’s not necessarily true. There have been worse years. I mean, sure, it wasn’t great. My grandmother died and there was that whole crippling anxiety business and my best friend moved away. But also I went to Costa Rica and I ran four miles and I made graphics that Taylor Swift shared on Instagram. I started Good Letters.

I got to jump a lot in 2017. There were times when I got sick of jumping, when I wanted to stop jumping. There were times I wanted to jump and be reckless and had to remind myself to go slow and breathe. There were a lot of times when I was jumping alone but there were so many more times when I wasn’t.

2017, in short, has been a year. Not a definitively bad one or a definitively good one, just a mix of both and, maybe its me finally starting to act my age, but I’m unspeakably grateful.

Cheers to another year in 2018,

Madelyne

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