It's easy to think of 2016 as a dumpster fire. For many people, and in many ways, it was exactly that. It wasn't the easiest or best year for anyone I know.
I said three big goodbyes in 2016. First, in late spring, one of our closest friends died. We were lucky we had time to say our goodbye to him, but we still feel it. Then, as summer was winding down, we made the tough decision to say goodbye to Piper days before her 17th birthday. A month after that I worked my last day at a company I'd worked with for 10 years. When I think about 2016 in the years to come, I'm guessing I'll remember these losses.
But no year, even a dumpster fire year, is all bad. There are always moments that shimmer brightly, even if you are just blinking through tears. These are the happier moments I hope to remember of 2016.
Guayabo Falls, Cuba
When we travelled to Holguin we were not expecting to do a lot off the resort, but we took a chance on a tour to Guayabo Falls. We're glad we did, even if it was a long day and we travelled on what our guides assured us where some of the worst roads in Cuba. We got to see a bit more of Cuba, away from the resorts. We drove through small towns. We visited a small farm, where we had some truly delicious coffee. Our main destination was Guayabo Falls. While our "hike" was decidedly much shorter than we thought (probably less than 10 minutes) it was lush and lovely. We didn't swim in the falls that day as it wasn't all that warm, but the view was stunning and very peaceful.
Petting the rays at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada in Toronto
I TOUCHY THE RAY! Awesome freaking day. I'd return to the aquarium again in December and would be there on shark feeding day, and see a special dive show with Santa. The sea nettles display might be my favourite thing there, but petting the rays made me stupidly happy on my first visit. The aquarium has become one of my favourite things in Toronto.
Come From Away at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto
When I heard that Come From Away was coming to Toronto for a pre-Broadway run, I knew I wanted to see it. Lee had a trip to Toronto during the run and I managed to get us seats. They weren't together but we were only a row apart and darned lucky to get them. It made me cry. Happy tears. Sad tears. It was good to remember the essential goodness of people. One of things about not living out East is you forget how much you miss a good, emphatic "JAYSUS!"
Losing Piper in 2016 sucked hard and made an already hard month almost unbearable. In the winding days of August, we adopted a little ball of fluff from the Ottawa Humane Society and named him Gunter. (Rhymes with "hunter", and yes, it is a nod to Ready Player One.) We seem to have a knack for adopting cats with plenty of personality. Gunter has absolutely been one of the best things of 2016, if not the best thing. He was almost five months when we adopted him and weighed less than two pounds. It turns out he just needed room to grow and now at eight months is eight pounds. He's brought a lot of joy to our house... even if he doesn't like it when we have company roaming around which explains his "WTF?" posture in the above photo. (Cat, however, was happy with his reaction. It was much better than Piper's constant hissing at her.)
Disney World, Orlando
Lee had a conference in Orlando and we had Air Miles we needed to use so we figured we might as well throw in a few days at Disney. We were there right after our friend's funeral, and Disney gave us a chance to step away from mourning and be reminded to be joyful. Disney hadn't really been all that high on our vacation wish list, but it was the right place at the right time. There was also a little bit of childhood wish fulfillment as neither Lee nor I went as kids. Who knows, we might even go back again someday. Bonus? I totally got to meet up with an internet friend I've known for years and had never met in person.
Adele in Montreal
Adele is magical. A lot of things had to happen exactly right for this night to happen. We had to see a Facebook post at just the right time to see a friend selling their tickets. Days later we realized Lee couldn't go, but then we decided we could treat a friend, who very much needed something special, to come with me for a quick girls' weekend. I got what might have been one of the very last double hotel rooms in Montreal. Everything just kind of fell into place, like it was meant to be.
Ami in Ottawa
Almost 10 years exactly from the first time we met (it was 10 years and one month - ish), we found ourselves at another book signing, another set of drinks. Something about if felt very right, like 2016 wanted to remind me that of the good things the internet has gifted me - that blogging has gifted me. It was like a circle completed itself.
The many, many morning walks
I tried to get out to walk a lot this year. I did well in the spring, feel off in the summer and after the snow came, but oh, the autumn walks. After I left my job, I tried to walk 5km every day. It didn't happen but I walked more days than not. I walked in sunshine and after the rain. I walked on frosty mornings. I listened to podcasts. I looked at trees. There's something very centring about those walks and I need to dust off my snowpants and get out there again.
Celebrating goodbye because it's also a beginning
I said my share of goodbyes this year. When I said goodbye a company I'd worked with for 10 years, I choose to celebrate it with champagne. It was an end of decade of work, but also a new beginning. 2016 taught me to see endings as new beginnings.
Pull over to see the show
We had just spent a whirlwind weekend in Toronto where we'd seen the Jays win a home game, spent time with a friend, ate some spectacular chicken and waffles, and stared in wonder at Chihuly's works. We were almost home when something caught our eye and we pulled off the highway to find someone putting on a private fireworks show. We came across it just in time to pull over and see the big finale. As we pulled away, honking our horn in appreciation, we couldn't think of a better way to end a great weekend.
This list was in no particular order and there's no doubt I missed moments. I chose to end this list with champagne and fireworks. I chose to end with celebration. 2017 is here and with it comes new beginnings. Bad things might happen as they did in 2016, but good things may happen as well. There will be spectacular views. There will be time spent with friends, both new and old.
May there be unexpected fireworks.
Goodbye, 2016. Hello, 2017. I'm ready to see the show.