The Obligatory New Decade Essay

The start of a year.

The end of a decade.

It seems I’m a little late marking the occasion, other writers and creators have done far more interesting and poignant things to show the change from 2019 to 2020. Among my favorites are Stephanie Burt’s piece on poetry for the new year in the Washington Post, and Dan Murrell’s Decade in Film supercut for Screen Junkies on YouTube. Both of which appeared in timely, polished fashion, whereas true to form my blog post on the subject is long overdue, and likely to have a few typos.

That said, it’s never stopped me before, why should a few swappde letters stop me now?

January 2010 saw me half-way through my junior year of high school, running something like 30 miles a week, and burning upwards of 5,000 calories a day. If you’d asked me to define myself then, I probably would have mentioned being a runner before speaking about marching band, Girl Scouts, FFA, NHS, or UIL. My senior year would be punctuated by ACT testing, college-campus tours, and saccharine melodrama over the last football game ever, but in January of junior year, that was still 10,000 miles away.

In the months and years that followed, I would move across Texas for school, then across an ocean. I would decide not to be a high school English teacher (terrible idea, I would be a headache for principals and parents alike). I would decide to continue with the novelist dream (though not the Great American kind, too much pressure and the scales are skewed towards the dead, the white, and the male, and I’m only working with 1/3 of those traits). In college, I would hurt my knee training for a half marathon and never run again like I did in high school.

In the past decade I learned how to write poetry, how to cook a decent meal, and how to appreciate a really good cup of tea. I had my heart hurt for the first time, and then moved a little further from home and had it broken properly.

I had an epiphany about the unkindnesses I’ve dolled out in my own life. Micro-aggressions, selfishnesses, gossip and cruel words. I learned that I am not graceful in heartache, and that my friends are better people than I deserve. I can only pray that pain will make me kinder.

I celebrated!

New friends came into my life and old friends stayed!

And most of them seem to be getting married in the next year! May happinesses multiply in all their hearts and homes. It is lovely to know that my friends are loved as they deserve to be loved, and that they will be celebrated as they ought to be.

I’ve read more books and watched more movies in the past decade than in the previous one. Was surprised and delighted that the stars re-aligned to create a sequel for my favorite, dumb zombie movie, and finally got through that white whale book that The Mentalist told me was one of the most difficult novels in the English language. I watched all four hours of Gone with the Wind one night in one of my favorite Cork pubs with a small, dedicated group of friends. It still stands as incredible art, no matter its lies about an antebellum dream that may, or may not have existed.

I’ve watched my country from across an ocean, and still stand with Allen Ginsberg when it comes to her flaws. May I always be as clear-eyed when it comes to what and who I love.

It has been a long, strange, wonderful trip of a decade. I have grown upward and outward in so, so many ways. Grown in directions that don’t always fold back down into the container of who I was when I lived in Redwater full time, or even when I lived in San Angelo.

I heard somewhere that over the course of eight years ever cell in a human body will be replaced. If so, then in a decade, mathematically speaking, I am a person and a quarter different from who I was in my junior year of high school. A Jenni and a bit removed from my 16 year old self.

Would we recognize each other on the street?

Would she even make eye contact? Jenni the Younger could be a shy little thing, until she went to college and decided that being afraid was boring.

This morning I dug out my high school yearbook from 2010, and there I was on page 100, smile was only a little stiff in a blue t-shirt and coconut shell earrings that I’ve still got around here somewhere. Alphabetically in my graduating class, I fell between Whitney Crosswhite and Chance Edwards, two people whose names and pictures I sat between every year for 13 years.

Someday, if any one of the three of us is famous, someone might find that interesting.

Until then, it’ll just be a factoid from a yearbook I rarely think about.

But it’s nice to take a minute and see how far we’ve come.

It’s nice, some days, to remember.

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2 thoughts on “The Obligatory New Decade Essay

  1. Again, you are so elegant in your prose. Enjoyed the visit and hope your Dad is doing much better. I know he was glad to get home. It is true, you have come from a shy young girls to an outspoken young lady with opinions of her own and you are not afraid to speak your mind. I guess that is a de Bie trait as I am told that also as well as you cousins Jessican and Nick and Artie. Have a safe flight back across the pond Friday and we will see you in the summer sometime I guess…. Love always, Aunt Sheri

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  2. It has been a good decade watching the last little chick leave the nest. Every time l go to the Chicken Farm I miss those San Angelo years and getting to see you more often. You have come a long way in ten years, but it is only the beginning of your journey. Love you my dear.

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