Saturday, January 6, 2018

2017: Year in Review

Politics aside, 2017 was the year I got everything I wanted. Until it wasn't. But we'll get to that. 

I started the year in a relationship with A.G., a guy I had started dating in November 2016. Everything about Aaron felt like of course he was who I would end up with. He lived(s!) across the street from me, he's a Jewish lawyer, and well...he showed up and he wanted to be my boyfriend. At the time, that was about all it took. 

Mid-month I took a trip up to a place I swore I'd never visit again....Reno, Nevada. Come to find out, the Biggest Little City in the World has grown up since 2001 when Linz and I were hunkered up in our dorm together at UNR, not socializing and not exploring - just eating a LOT of Domino's. So it took one helluva reason to get back there -  Renee Losey, who relocated up north from Vegas a few years back. We had a weekend full of Pure HoTT fun and I'm happy to say, I can't wait to visit again. 

I came home just in time for the Women's March. Coming from someone who had never experienced, nor expected, to partake in a protest but found herself with Trump for president while dating an aspiring politician (spoiler alert - not the wife life for me), I found myself proud to be chanting with millions of others, "My Body, My Choice / Her Body, Her Choice." Denver showed up - as many other cities did - and it was incredibly empowering to feel our voices being heard and echoed. 

February 1 we headed up for our annual Steamboat ski trip, something I look forward to every year and one that I was particularly excited for as my boyfriend was joining us AND I pulled the big room. Problem was, as soon Aaron walked through the door, a switch went off - one that whispered "this is wrong, he is not my person, he is a stranger I am now trapped in a condo with for the next five days." I tried to quiet the voice but it only persisted and got louder as the days wore on.  I didn't want to share with anyone we were with as I had pushed for him to join us but when I finally saw Caitlin, who was up for a Chipotle trip, I spilt, "This is fucking terrible. I'm losing it. I'm not supposed to be in a relationship. I feel like I'm suffocating and I need to get out." I went from 100% happy to 1000% miserable with one walk through the door, and I'm so sorry to Aaron for it. Needless to say, the relationship ended just after that trip. 

The rest of February brought many nights out with Caitlin, and a ski trip with my dad (and Steph! and Uncle Mike!) at Copper Mountain. 

While out one of those nights with Caitlin, we decided that what we needed was a UNIcation and within days, we were headed to Bahia Principe in Akumal, Mexico with all of the Canadians for three nights / four days of tequila, tacos and sand. TAKE US BACK.

We came back and sang our heart's out at Tiger's 34th birthday (one of the few nights of the year I'm up to see closing time anymore) and then on March 21 (Pengs on birthday!), I went on my first date post-Aaron. I was sitting over at Andy and Jen's new place THREE BLOCKS FROM CARRIAGE HOUSE (their neighboring move was absolutely a highlight of this year), drinking a beer, saying between sips that I just wasn't sure I had it in me. Small talk with another dude who likes to ski. I was so busy complaining about that swipe life that I didn't even realize I was late to the date. I eventually walked the five blocks down to Pinche and man, I'm so glad I did because his name was Joe who turned out to be one of my favorite people on this planet. 

Our first date was one where you lose track of the 100 different conversations you're having because it's all just flowing and FUN. We exchanged our top 5 concerts of all time (his, Prince / mine, Elton John's Million Dollar Piano), found out we shared the same ski pass, HE ORDERED QUESO and well, I fell in love. Okay maybe not that immediate but then for our second date he suggested Work & Class and I was done for. It was the best date I've ever been on and from that point on, he was Jobo (my boyfriend, named Joe). He came to Easter, tiki time, dinner, drinks, brunches...everyone felt the same way I did. Hell, even Andy, who literally has never approved on anyone I've ever dated, said to me after brunch one Sunday, "I really like Joe." 

April brought volunteering for Dining Out for Life and at Growing Gardens and a whole lot of smiles and miles as I was training for my first (only?) half marathon which I completed on May 14, 2017 at the Happiest Place on Earth - Disneyland. I never, ever expected to run more than 3.2 miles in my life but I'm so glad Ann + Nicole (hey HotCats!) pushed me to do it as it was a grand accomplishment of mind, body and soul. I'd never been in better shape than I was leading up to that marathon at age 33.  Plus, I got to see Lisa. 

In June, Gordon turned 9 and I turned 34. I spent June 7th at Red Rocks with Jobo and Suzy for the Miike Snow + Phoenix concert where we almost got rained out but mostly just started a dance train behind Thomas Mars. That following weekend I threw myself a "Resting Brunch Face" birthday party so I could do what I do best - drink mimosas with all of my favorite people.

On June 17th,  I did the other thing I do best - drank wine in the mountains at Aspen Food & Wine. Caitlin, Jobo, Cam, Bill and I drank the town dry and had the time of our lives as we crashed parties, ate the best charcuterie board ever, sipped (and in some cases, downed) wines we can't afford and danced at the best party of the year - IMT's Wine at the Mine. Looking back, I'm realizing that June 2017 was the best of the entire year because from here, I also camped Kenosha Pass with the crew and saw Paul Simon at Red Rocks. 

In July, I headed east to celebrate my dad's birthday at The Rambo Run. It was a Knoch family reunion that meant a lot to us all, being at the Fishing Club my grandfather started decades ago with a few friends. We passed the time fishing, laughing, eating crabs, drinking, and watching lightning bugs. It was the perfect way to celebrate my dad's 70 years on this planet. From PA, the cousins and I headed up to New Hampshire and Boston where I got to see my best travel buddy, Chloe, and finally met her (adorable) son Asher and experienced the most patriotic 4th of July of my life. You guys, Boston does not fuck around on the firework situation. They even had Melissa Etheridge there to sing "Come to My Window." 

Back home, we bid farewell to Jill who traded in city livin' for ranch life up in Wyo. But not before we had the chance to have Ryan McGinley take our Polaroid. 

On July 12th, Joe and I went to another show at Red Rocks which led to me writing Beck that night in bed, explaining to him that I had just watched him perform "I Think I'm in Love" when it struck me that HOLY SHIT I think I'm in love but it makes me kind of nervous to say so...could he maybe just say it for me? Joe's birthday was approaching and I was hoping Beck himself could just send those lyrics in the mail to me so I could tell Jobo on August 18th how I felt. (I'm still checking my mail every day.) The month rounded out with Tasty Colfax and my final trip to the Outdoor Retailer Show in SLC where we marched for Public Lands. 

In August - wait, August was the best month of the year. I saw A Tribe Called Quest and Nathaniel Rateliff at Red Rocks, witnessed a total eclipse, and started my new job at Bread & Butter Public Relations. Each of these moments deserve their own breakdown. 

Tribe: I've been listening to Tribe since I was 14. The Love Movement was the soundtrack to my freshman year of high school and I will never not get up to dance to "Award Tour." To see Q Tip and Muhammad pay tribute to Phife Dawg moved us all. There was not a dry eye or a still foot in the entire place. And I believe it was their final show of their career. How fortunate I feel to have been there (and fifth row at that). 

And well, Nathaniel just puts on one helluva show - especially in his hometown. 

The Total Solar Eclipse: I've been sitting here for 15 minutes trying to put into words what we saw. How do you describe what the world is like when the moon completely covers the sun? It was still and a natural light I'd never seen before. And it was, by far, the coolest thing I have ever witnessed. For those of you who did not take the trip to see totality - start planning now for 2020. I'll see you in Texas.

The only thing that could follow the Eclipse? Summer Scream. 

Bread & Butter Public Relations: In late August, I left Scream Agency after 6.5 years for an opportunity I could not pass up - to help start up the Denver office of a national F&B PR agency and one who lists The Infinite Monkey Theorem (see IMT / party of the year above) as a client. Going from a local boutique shop where I was given the freedom to run a department in the best way I saw fit to joining a national agency with ten offices, 80+ brilliant women (and two men!), with procedures and great expectations in place has been a challenge but one that has pushed me in the best ways possible. I feel invigorated and scared and sharp and fortunate and eager to see what 2018 brings for my career. 

A job change is one of the most stressful things one can do, especially when that one is leaving a place that helped shape the person they are today. I met some of my best friends, had many milestone moments and worked with Gordon by my side inside those walls at 1501 Wazee since 2011. But I knew I had to leave to continue to grow and I felt that things had finally aligned. I had the house. I had the guy. I had the dream job. And I had worked my ass off for all of it. So when I told Joe before leaving for a long weekend to California that I had never been happier, I met it. 

Lo and I spent that long weekend on the beach with Lisa who shared the news of her engagement. Lisa, I am so happy for you and Garrett and I cannot wait for Nashville for all of us to be able to toast the occasion together, ideally over some fried chicken. 

I came home to experience that 100% happy to 1,000% miserable but on the opposing end. On September 11th as Joe sat across from me on my patio, explaining that he just "couldn't get there," I floated up up and away as my brain refused to process what was happening. I had just told him, four days prior, that I had never been happier and I could've sworn that moment in Wyo, he felt the same. What had happened, where did I lose him and why couldn't I just fucking have more than two weeks of having it all. I felt tired of having to be "so strong" - all I wanted was to drink whiskey on the rocks and get numb. 

But I was two weeks into my new job so there was no time for that (okay, there was but a very specific window of 7p - midnight). Then the place I called home for 20 years was attacked on October 1st. My neon city was drenched in blood and I was not there. My heart broke all over again so I took all of that energy and put it in pitches and played catch up and didn't come up for air for months. I was going to succeed at something. 

The rest, I just put on a smile for and worked my way through (like my Jeep's engine going out on me) but there were these moments when the happiness permeated. 

On November 11th, I climbed into a limo at 3:30a Grand Cayman bound with my cousins. When we arrived later that day at our (gorgeous) island home,  I walked out on our private deck and whispered to myself, "This is exactly what you need at exactly the right time." And there, I healed. 

The trip was a perfect mix of doing absolutely nothing some days and things I'd never done before other days. We went deep sea fishing, something I had been on the fence about but ended up being my favorite part of the week, kayaked in the bioluminescent bay under a full moon, swam with stingrays and chartered our own boat for a full day. Dinners consisted of fresh seafood and drinks made of rum. We spent time out on the dock, smoking cigars and swapping stories.

And in the moments when it was just me, I reflected back on a year that had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. And I realized that between the two relationships I had experienced in 2017, one showed me who I didn't care to be and the other, exactly who I wanted to be. I am so proud of who I was in my relationship with Joe. I showed up as a whole person. One who had done a lot of work on herself and was therefore, ready to be in a true partnership. Joe and I gave each other space to live the lives we had created in a single state of mind but also made room for one another. There was no doubt that he was my best friend and I was the best version of myself when I was with him. So when the breakup came, for the first time I did not have to question if I could have done something different. I have no regrets in my time with Joe. 

So I came back, ready to give the swipe life yet another try. I went on a few dates, the first I ended up crying in the bathroom just out of frustration that I was "back here" and that he wasn't Joe. Another led me to crushing a guy who was probably the nicest I'd ever been out with. The third, Gordon set me up with by imprinting on a gentleman while I was working at Union Station and he is a republican who lives in Texas so...I'm not giving up, but I am taking some time to get back in touch. 

The holiday season and a trip to Vegas certainly helped with some perspective. I was there a few weeks ago for Bread & Butter's holiday party and a few overdue hugs. I got to know my new coworkers and spent quality time with friends that I have known my entire formative years and miss on the daily. Austin even finally put some ink on me in the form of a "g" for my love of a little bub named Gordon. Also had the time of my life at Magic Mike Live which I'll be treating you all to on our next trip. 

And when I saw Mandalay Bay, I was overcome with emotion as tears streamed down my face. There is no denying that the events that took place on October 1 changed the community - but I can tell you that Vegas is alive and strong and still a place like no other on earth. You should book a trip and see it for yourself. I, personally, plan to be back sooner than later to love on that glowing neon banner in the middle of the desert. 

Looking back I think I got pretty close to seeing everyone I love this year and that is the greatest gift of all. Followed closely by the other greatest gift of A few favorites include:
Monsoon, Hippo Campus
Come Down, Anderson.Paak
Dog Years, Maggie Rogers (and really, the entire album) 
Die Young, Sylvan Esso 
With You, Drake (not from this year but was on repeat for months on end for me) 
Cherry Wine, Overcoats 
Sign of the Times, Harry Styles (because we all need more Queen-inspired ballads) 
May I Have This Dance (Remix), Francis and the Lights w/ Chance the Rapped 
Creature Comfort, Arcade Fire 
Set Adrift of Memory Bliss, PM Dawn (again, not from this year but a memory...well, of bliss) 
December 2914, James Vincent McMorrow
4:44, Jay Z 
North Star, Future Islands 
New York, St. Vincent 
Unraveling, Frances Cone 
Perfect Duet, Ed Sheeran w/ Beyonce 
Don't Blame Me, Taylor Swift (forever a sucker for a good pop song) 
Work, Charlotte Day 

It's now December 31st and in just a few hours, this little house will be filled with those tunes, friends and bubbles at Champagne Spongebath as we wrap the year and the holiday season. 

Here's to finally having it all in 2018.