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art theplace364 days down, one to go.

Hurtling down Interstate 95 from Boston to New York City, I’m sitting on a charter bus with my eyes aimed once again at New Year’s Eve in The Big Apple. It’s become a tradition of mine with my two best friends from college, both of who live and work in the city. 

I awoke last New Year’s Day on a random couch in Brooklyn. There was a girl next to me I’d only first met the night before. I was in her friend’s apartment. My eyes creaked open and I had no idea where I was. All I knew is that there happened to be a beautiful girl in my arms. Not a bad way to start 2014, eh? 

I remember strolling the streets that morning with her, Kate, as we tracked down one of those 24-hour Greek diners where the menus read like novels and dishes are piled high with everything from seafood to bacon and eggs to three-tiered sandwiches. We laughed over coffee at how crazy last night was and what the impending year would hold, what unknown possibilities and opportunities lay just around the corner, ready to surprise us at a moment’s notice.

That diner conversation feels like years ago, as does most things we remember from our past, for the present is so captivatingly chaotic and distracting, the future always weighing down upon our shoulders. As I type this column to you, the bus is cruising by New Haven, Connecticut, right by the off-ramp exit to where I went to college — Quinnipiac University. I graduated from there in 2007. It feels like a lifetime ago, a place lost in some seemingly foolish dream, a face in the mirror I might not recognize if the green eyes staring back at me weren’t so recognizable. 

For me, New Year’s Eve is the one true moment where you stop in your tracks, even but for a moment, and take a look around, at the people, sounds and things that make up your life. It’s your physical, emotional and spiritual inventory for the year. This year especially has been filled with the usual rollercoaster of events — career, health, family, friends and women.

All in all, I see 2014 as a landmark year in my personal existence. Career-wise? I’ve never been happier — I do what I love, everyday. Health-wise? After a year or so nursing a leg injury, my active lifestyle is back on track with lots of running, hiking, mountain biking and Frisbee golf. Family-wise? My folks are getting older, which always gets me as I only cross paths with them every so often, but my sister did give birth to an adorable baby girl, and I’m excited to be the Godfather. Friend-wise? It never ceases to amaze me how many new and incredible people come into my view each passing year, where you find yourself saying, “Where have you been all my life?”

And lastly, women. I had told myself a few years ago that I was done pursing women. Yes, OK, if they crossed paths with me, then so be it, but I wouldn’t fall in love. No more putting myself out there only to fall in love and get my heart chucked into the abyss. That oath held steady until this spring. I fell in love again. We had a great summer. But, sure enough, my heart was chucked into the abyss.

If any good came from that relationship (and there was a good amount of it), it was that I finally had answers to several soul-searching questions I’d spent years trying to solve. I came to the conclusion that I did want more than a freewheelin’ playboy lifestyle, that being alone and doing my own thing is great and all, but com’on, it is so much more fun to share this journey we call life with a loved one, wherever she may be amid the cosmos.

The charter bus continues to rumble down the road towards Manhattan. My intent continues to push ahead for that horizon I’m always chasing with a reckless abandon. I can’t sit still, and I never will, because there’s so much beauty and insanity out there that I want to partake in like jumping into a cold lake on a hot summer day. My phone vibrates next to me. It’s her, Kate, and she wanted to know if I’ll be in the city again for New Year’s Eve. A stranger a year ago, now a beloved friend heading into 2015.

As I write this final paragraph, I myself am wondering what’s the exact point of this week’s column. Maybe there is none. Maybe it’s just the passerby words of a guy who is drunkenly in love with the world. It is the air I breathe, the water I swim in, the ground I lay upon, the voices and faces I converse with, the places and things that mesmerize my eternal childlike wonder.

Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all.

 

 

Hot picks

1 Dirty Soul Revival (rock/blues) will perform at 9 p.m. Jan. 16 at No Name Sports Pub in Sylva.

2 The comedy “Elemeno Pea” will be held at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16-17 and at 3 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre in Waynesville.

3 Brushfire Stankgrass (newgrass/Americana) will perform at 8 p.m. Jan. 9 at BearWaters Brewing in Waynesville.

4 The “Come As You Art” Gathering will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Hospice House of WNC in Franklin.

5 Dan Shearin (folk/rock) will perform at 7 p.m. Jan. 9 at The Classic Wine Seller in Waynesville.

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