A year is a funny thing; 365 days.
It doesn’t seem like a long time.
Things like relationships, houses, cars - they are all still relatively new after one year.
But yet, a year can do so much, a year can change so much.
Those mere 365 days can feel like a lifetime.
I know people had 2018 better, and some people had it worse.
This is just a reflection of 'My 2018'.
A year that saw me fall in love with my best friend, meet some really important people, face a betrayal that I am still dealing with and become more 'me' than I've ever been.
It has been a cocktail of breathtakingly good moments, a whole lot of love, some confusing emotions and a little bit of heartache.
Surprisingly, I remember 12:00am January 1st 2018 very clearly.
I was at Beyond The Valley, just to the left of the main stage, mushed in there somewhere amongst the crowd.
My friends and I had managed to get a whole group of us all in the same spot to hear the countdown and start the new year together. (If you have been to a festival, you would know what a task this is.)
The presets were playing "My People" and I was there with all of my people.
There was no place else I would have preferred to be.
I didn't think, at that moment, that I could get any happier.
Little did I know...
The year started on a high from Summer holidays.
I'd spent them at the beach, like every year, with my family and our good friends.
Once the holidays were over, I was home and reality set in I was feeling a little bit lost.
I was flat, unsatisfied with my job, confused about where I was going and what I was going to do.
I was frustrated and felt stuck in a rut.
In late January I fell in love with my best friend (I remember the exact night, lol does love even work that way?) by February we were beginning a relationship.
Although everything was literally perfect in that aspect of life, I think my happiness there highlighted how unhappy I actually was in other areas; it made me want to do and be better.
I think without even knowing it, or meaning to, he gave me the motivation and the confidence to make a change.
Like any year, 2018 was filled with good times and bad too.
I started two new jobs of a different nature, both very rewarding and with kids that bring a smile to my face every day. This set a solid foundation for a happier, more fulfilling year and pulled me out of that rut.
After a couple of stays in hospital my Nana moved into a nursing home.
She is suffering Alzheimer's Disease. A disease that causes brain cells to waste away and die, resulting in a continuous decline in memory, thinking, behavioural and social skills.
It's victims lose everyday function.
You very slowly lose your loved one.
It is a cruel disease that currently has no cure.
Watching my strong-willed, determined and hardworking Nan suffering, confused, panicked and distraught for weeks on end when she moved broke my heart in a way it has never broken.
Thankfully, she has now settled in and our visits are filled with silly conversation and cheeky laughter again.
I still ache for the real her, we all do. However, I want to hold onto all the precious moments we still get as I know there is more heartache ahead.
As someone who has always either lived with my grandparents or just down the road from them, her move signified the end of an era and brought home that always feared fact; we won't have them forever.
Although their farm still stands, maintained and well kept, there’s a sense of emptiness and abandonment walking down that long concrete path to the house.
It isn’t the place I’ve always known it to be.
I encountered a betrayal that completely blindsided me; it came from someone I have loved and trusted for the entirety of my life.
I unwillingly discovered what happens when the opinions and beliefs you have spent a lifetime building are shattered in just one second.
It was the kind of shock that had me smiling in disbelief, I could not fathom it to be true.
For the first time, I experienced what it was like to actually feel both love and hatred for the same person; it is a confusing tug of war type feeling.
Sometimes, what hurts more than your own pain is seeing the people you love in pain too.
I learnt a lot about forgiveness, the way it comes and goes, that term ‘unconditional love’ and just how unconditional it can be, the importance of true family and just how much life events and time itself can change even a concrete family dynamic.
I also learnt that there are a lot of things that can cause us to fight, but there is nothing that can tear us apart.
Throughout the year my closest friendships have ebbed and flowed with the changes of life and growing up. As they do.
I think that's the beauty of real friendships; it doesn't matter how much things change, your friendship just changes and adapts with it.
You realise living in each other's pockets is easy as a teenager but you can't maintain it forever; people get busier, distance gets greater and sometimes long phone calls or planning hangouts a week or more in advance become your new normal.
One of my best friends and I, who are used to living 3 minutes from each other, learnt that only an hour away can feel very "long distance".
Hanging out didn't involve a last minute "want to go and get food?" but instead a mind maze of working out when our schedules align and instead of crossing through a housing estate and a few paddocks it's now 87km of freeway and some built up city areas.
I got to fall in love twice this year.
The second time was with a boy who has four legs, floppy ears, green eyes, brown fur and a loud howl.
Due to previous experiences I had a strong dislike for dogs and had already decided I would never have one.
So can you imagine how I felt after just falling head over heels for a guy and he tells me he is wanting to buy a puppy?
While most girls would be delighted, my stomach dropped at the message.
"How do I tell him I hate dogs?" I asked my friend. "He's going to want to bring it everywhere!" I moaned. She laughed.
When I finally confessed I wasn't really a dog person he's response was "this dog will be different, you're going to watch him grow up and you're going to love him." Oh, how right he always is.
It only took a couple days, some name discussions and some cute pup photos from the litter for me to not only warm to the idea but feel excited about it.
By the time I met Chopper I was already in love with him, and it is a love that has done nothing but grow.
Now that I have seen the true beauty of dogs in Chop and his brother Tuuk, their little personalities and all their love and loyalty I find myself admiring even stranger's dogs, hoping they'll run up to me so I can give them a pat.
In 2018 I became a dog person.
I also became more me than I have ever felt.
I dyed my hair back to my original blonde, lol, but I think the biggest evidence is me starting this journal, website, blog... whatever you want to call it.
It is something I have always wanted to do, but could never have imagined myself going through with.
Maybe for some people it is easy, but for me, it has taken a lot of guts, confidence and courage.
It still blows my mind that I share my writing on the internet for absolutely anybody to read.
The very fact that I not only considered doing this but went through with it, speaks volumes of how comfortable I have become with myself as a person.
I have adopted the "aw well" attitude in terms of what other people think of me and realised that the important people love me for me.
I am not really sure what response I expected from my first post, but the support from my family and friends knocked me for six.
Not to mention acquaintances and strangers who went, and still do, go out of their way to message me support and feedback.
The whole experience has been very daunting, but oh so liberating.
I might, one day, write a piece detailing how I became so comfortable and so confident to share my writing and the incredible and unexpected responses from those closest to me.
If you have an interest or hobby you are keeping to yourself, scream it from the bloody rooftops.
There is such a power in being exactly who you are and not caring what other people think about it.
And that leads me to Crab.
I think sometimes people meet at the exact time they are supposed to.
Although I spent the earlier part of the year worrying it was the 'wrong timing' I have come to realise how wrong I was.
Wrong timing doesn't exist, if it's wrong timing then really it's just the wrong person.
He has had such a positive influence on me.
We both needed each other this year.
We’ve had a whole lot of good times.
We've both grown, changed and matured.
There have been a few speed bumps along the way too; they’ve taught us a lot about each other and ourselves and they've made us stronger together.
He is my best friend.
Then there's his family.
We have laughed together, cried together and everything in between.
They have become my second home.
Home is both a place and a feeling that I value deeply.
Their house has been both that place and feeling when I have needed it.
A home away from home.
I am so grateful for their kind hearts and open arms.
I am 1,726 words in and there is still so much that I haven't mentioned.
But I guess fitting a whole entire year into one writing piece would be unrealistic so I'll wrap it up.
At 12:00am January 1st 2019 I wasn’t with ‘all of my people’ but I was with my person on an empty patch of grass in a place that I love.
The first moment in the crowd at Beyond The Valley and the last one on that patch of grass feel absolutely worlds apart.
It makes me both nervous and excited for 2019.
I have no idea what will come this year, but I am so excited to find out.