Happy Anniversary to me.

Tomorrow marks the 1 year anniversary of my Live Journal experience. I've never had such a detailed account of an entire year before. I've spent the last few nights reading through all the entries, seeing where I was a year ago and comparing it to where I am now. Self-reflection is made a lot easier with a tool like LJ. I was in a remarkably different place a year ago... friends have come and gone (mostly gone), relationships have been established, broken, re-established, improved, worsened... relatives have died, gotten married, gotten pregnant. Old careers were quit, new careers established. I've been rich, been poor, been happy, been depressed, been retrospective, been drunk, been everything.

First, the friends that have come and gone. First of all, Missy. At the beginning of the journal, I was using a fake name for her, but I was just obsessed with her. I wanted to date her so bad and despite all the clues she was giving me, I didn't get the hint that the feeling wasn't mutual. I cut off ties, which was a brilliant thing to do. A few months later, we were able to talk as friends. Good friends. We got along better than ever without the weird "I like you" tension. It was good. That new and good relationship lasted until she was too busy for me once again, and she left. For good this time? I don't know... we'll see.

And Barb... where do I start? Around December she started trying to be my friend again and I tried to tell her I wasn't interested. When her dad died, I visited her to extend my condolences even when we weren't on best terms. That meant a great deal to her, and put us on "not bad" terms. She still enters and leaves my life occassionally. I don't mind that, necessarily. She promises to be a more dedicated friend. I don't see that happening, so that's the end of any kind of "relationship" as far as I'm concerned. She'll always be an aquintance, and always someone where I'll wonder where she is and what she's doing. Anything beyond that, I'm not interested anymore. Sometimes people just grow apart. There's no sense in fighting it. Sometimes it's for the best.

Jaimee, the best thing to happen in the long (yet short, surprisingly) run of bad choices in girls. We've had our ups and downs, our discussions that could have gone much better than they did, but it's been a good relationship in every form it's taken. Even the bad parts I've learned a lot from. We've both made some not-great choices, but throughout it all, we kept hacking away, knowing we could find a common ground. We have, and I know I'm the better for it. Hopefully she is too. She's also the only relationship that's been established in the past year, in a year that I lost way more friends than I gained.

Brice moved to California, inspiring me to take drastic steps in my life as well. Sure, he's made some not so great decisions in his life, but this last one was a good one. I'm happy for him, and I wish him the best. I'm not sure if I'll ever see him again. Probably not... he lives so far away and hasn't even emailed me since he's been out there.

Bryan J. Wolford was living with Brice a year ago. He started off as a friend of a friend, but somewhere along the line we became friends. It was a good transition. I'd go to their place and hang out with whoever happened to be there at the time, drinking beer, watching South Park or Friday the 13th movies and occassionally planning or writing our own little project. I haven't lost Wolford as a friend, but he sure did make it a lot more difficult to visit him by moving a few hundred miles away.

Bryan J. Polk also lived with Brice and Bryan briefly, so we got to be buddies during that time. Since Wolford has moved, I've seen less of Polk until recently, when he's gone out of his way to invite me along on some of his plans and drop by the apartment occassionally. I hope this trend continues.

Steph moved way out to Colorado. She's also not off the "friend" list, but it's hard to contribute to my life in an "every day" type way without her living in the same state. I see her occassionally, but not nearly often enough for my taste.

Fuller and I had our ins and outs as well. I told him to his face that I hated it when he got a girlfriend, since it meant that I wouldn't see him again for a few months, when they broke up. He resented me for saying it, and we stopped talking. When he calls, I'll always be willing to go out and see him, but I'm not going to invest a whole lot in that relationship anymore. It's just not cool to me when people come and go like that. Of course, it's a moot point since Fuller got a promotion and moved about 100 miles away and I never see him anymore.

Alan moved in around January. It was nice living with someone after braving it on my own for a few months. I had some extra cash to throw around, and someone to talk to at night. It took a few months, but we're finally on good enough terms that we'll go out to eat together and things, on the rare occassion that we're home at the same time.

Fabish moved in in May. He'd been my best friend my entire life, and moving in did nothing but make that relationship stronger. His schedule is more similar to mine than Alan's, so I see him more often. It was good timing too, since in May I was dealing with some pretty horrible shit with some of my former friends, so his company to me was more appreciated than I could ever express to him or anyone else. It really did keep me sane during those time. Speaking of which...

Angie. When I started this journal, I was talking to Angie every day, hanging out at her house and doing stuff with her every weekend. Out of all the lost friendships this year has presented to me, this is the one that hurt the most. She'd been keeping pretty serious secrets from me, using another best friend as an accompliss. Throughout the course of this journal I made several observations that should have clued me in to what was going on, but in the words of Jaimee "you see what you want to see". It took Wolford to snap me out of it and show me what was happening. All the secrets came crashing down, and I was forced to see Angie for what she really was. I consider myself a great judge of character, but Angie had me fooled for quite some time. Realizing the truth was quite possibly the hardest thing I dealt with this year, and it came at a time when I had other things to deal with too. It wasn't fun.

Mullens... Angie's "crime" wasn't committed alone. Mullens played a huge part of it too, but after the secrets started being told, Mullens confronted me and flat out told me that he didn't consider it my business and he wasn't going to tell me the whole truth. I respected him for that over Angie's technique. 6 years of friendship were down the drain, but at least it was proof that I hadn't misjudged Mullens' character. He's a good guy. We just took different approaches to our friendship, that's all. He's been trying recently to get us on back on a casual friend level. I'm not going to be the one to initiate anything, but I'll follow along with wherever he's directing this friendship.

I could add more... Becky and Shea, who were fast becoming "friends" rather than friends of friends. With the whole Angie/Mullens split, they went on Angie's side and I haven't heard from them since. Steph was also forced to take sides, ruining the whole dynamic our great group of friends used to share. KJ and Callahan, who are fast becoming "friends", beyond the "friend of a friend" thing.

Almost 2 months ago, I quit my job and started a new one. I was at a point where I didn't think I had anything else to lose. My friends were all leaving, going on to bigger and better things, and I was stuck alone in a job I hated. I took inspiration from people like Wolford and Brice and Fuller and up and quit, taking a big chance on the self-employment thing. Things are going well so far. Will I stay in Peoria? For at least another 6 months, yes. I'm still considering leaving, but I don't know where I'd go anymore. If the self-employment thing works, I could live anywhere and still do okay. As the past year has taught me, only time will tell certain things.

Other big news... my sister's pregnancy. I was the last one to find out, as is the norm these days. I'll be an uncle for the first time, which I'm pretty excited about. I really can't wait til she has this kid. I've been pestering them to have one since they got married. Their second anniversary is in December and the baby is due in January. I've waited long enough.

My cousin Russ also got a girl pregnant and got married, in that order. I can't say that I agree with either decision, but I wish him the best. He moved from Galesburg to Kansas City and is doing okay for himself. His sister Val also got pregnant and had her baby. She also lives in Kansas City, so I haven't seen either baby. My cousin Eric also had a kid, who I also haven't seen since he lives in Witchita.

My grandma passed on this year. It wasn't unexpected, and was kind of a relief after how sick she had been. My grandpa, last living grandparent, is still as active as ever, repairing his roof and cutting down trees. Not bad for an 80 year old man. I hope I inherited the gene that lets him do that stuff at his age. My aunt Nellie also passed away. It also wasn't unexpected after a long fight with cancer.

Other random things that happened this year that don't deserve their own paragraph: I've been introduced to new and great bands... New Found Glory, Alkaline Trio, Saves the Day, Get Up Kids, NOFX, etc. I met the one and only Bruce "the man" Campbell. I read his book cover to cover. I took a few road trips to my old home, Chicago, revisiting old ghosts and making peace with the city that made me miserable for so long. I turned 22, the most uneventful birthday on earth. I sold my Camaro (still hurts to talk about it), got a Daytona, sold the Daytona, got a Jeep. Terrorists attacked the US, scaring the entire country.

It's been a big year, and a good one for the most part. Despite the dissolved friendships, things are good and looking up. I'm growing up... getting older, getting wiser (mostly). Some friendships forged in high school or gradeschool just don't have the substance to keep it together as things change. Personalities change, places in life change, everything changes. I finally accepted that this year, and no longer try to hold on to relationships just for the sake of holding on to them. Sometimes it's best to let them go and wait until you know things are better. I've come to peace with everything that's happened in the last year, and ready to go forward without looking back. That's something I've never been great at, but I'm certainly going to give it my best shot.