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Why I Need to Start With the Year 2016

Imagine that you’re on an evening walk through your neighborhood. It’s part of your end-of-the-day routine. Maybe you take a little detour to get to a highpoint so you can watch the sunset.

What the highpoint and the sunset look like where I live

You cherish the moment, letting the warm, orange light soak you to the bone. But the sun eventually lowers itself below the horizon, taking the warmth with it. Realizing that you should probably head home before you get cold, you begin to go back down the hill. You don't get very far, though; nope, you only manage to take one step before you are speared through the top of your head with what feels like a log-sized icepick.

You stand there in complete shock, trying to comprehend your predicament. You can't breathe, you feel as if your blood is freezing in your veins; and yet, the impossibly large icepick is still sliding through your body from head to toe. Then you figure it out: it's not an icepick literally skewering you, it's a torrent of icy water, blasting you squarely on the top of your head. You're soaking wet.

You, getting blasted with ice-water from above

Gasping like a fish out of water, you will the torrent to cease so you can figure out how the hell this even happened, but it doesn’t stop. You expect it to at any moment—it's got to exhaust its water supply, right? Or perhaps whoever dumped it will finally realize they're dumping it onto another person—but it just doesn’t let up. Chunks of ice clunk against your skull as the water continues to pummel the top of your head, and you grow numb. After a while, you realize that you can’t feel any part of your body, and subsequently, you can’t move. You’re stuck under that frigid torrent, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

I would be surprised if you, my dear readers, have experienced the above scenario, word-for-word. I certainly have not; at least, not in the literal sense. But, metaphorically speaking, my experiences throughout the year of 2016 would beg to differ.

2016 was as absurd, for me, as getting blasted by an endless stream of ice water from an unseen source during a routine walk. The things that happened that year were horrific, disgusting, excruciating, and depressing. The choices I made were reckless, morbid, spontaneous, and idiotic. The peaks and troughs were severely mismatched, the former being so pathetically miniscule and the latter so deep and frequent that if one were to take the average of my experiences that year, it would certainly fall below the x-axis.

But 2016 wasn’t “bad,” in the grand scheme of things. I didn’t see it until later, but 2016 was simply a pivotal segment of my lifelong education—one course within a grander curriculum; the course that makes or breaks your chosen major, if you will. 2016 was very nearly the year that I died, but despite the odds, which resulted from both my own actions and supremely shitty luck, I lived to tell the tale. As they say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It’s true, alright. I can tell you that much.

Next week, we’ll look at what was happening in my life at the transition from 2015 to 2016. The idea is to set the stage for what follows: a relentless, raucous string of events that transpired in rapid-fire, domino succession, leaving me alone, drenched and shivering, in the dark.

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