I thought I’d end the year with one of those letters that people send out at Christmas with family updates. I used to make fun of those letters. Now, I’m becoming that which I made fun of, which is basically the gist of life, I’m pretty sure.
This isn’t ATD related, not exactly. Just a simple recap of the year with the Chatburns before we close up 2016 and look forward to aaaall the delights (had to) that 2017 will bring!
By January of 2016 I was 3 months in to my temporary job as a web/graphic design-with-babysitting-on-the-side freelancer. I turned 31 and we visited my sister and her husband at their home in Denver. Matty wrapped up work at a local cafe and we packed up our first apartment together in February, a cozy one-bedroom with a fireplace just south of downtown Austin.
We moved our things to storage (my parent’s garage in Fort Worth) and hopped a plane to Sydney in March. Matty’s parents treated us to 3 weeks of beaches, food, travel, and relaxing. I did yoga on the porch almost every day and our tans were primed and ready for the next step: Los Angeles.
Our trusty Camry, James Dean, carried us halfway across the country this April (small towns! Grand Canyon! desert!) where California greeted us with sunny skies and...a dingy 300 sq. foot downtown rental. We immediately jumped back in the car and found the closest Target, then proceeded to clean up cat hair, human hair, layers of dust, and other things I don’t want to think about. We complained to Airbnb and got a good $50 back, plus reimbursement for cleaning supplies. Thankfully, the complex had a pretty pool and an empty gym.
Matty landed a job within a week as a barista at the Butcher’s Daughter in Venice. I sent out multiple resumes and went on weird interviews and took a job as a social media manager in Santa Monica before the month was up.
We set our sights even farther west in May, settling into a cozy monthly rental in West Hollywood. There was a couch, a large TV, and Sunday evening Game of Thrones/pizza nights. We took lots of walks around the neighborhood and decided it could be the place for us.
In June, we moved into our surprisingly large, pleasingly sunlight apartment a few blocks away. We slept on an air mattress for a few weeks, but after 3 months of hopping around we didn’t care. It was OURS. My parents drove a U-Haul full of our belongings and towed the family’s old 2002 minivan so that we could have a second vehicle. After a tiny mishap that left them stranded in the California desert, they finally made it to West Hollywood, where they proceeded to help us unload all our belongings despite exhaustion, traffic stress, and an angry neighbor screaming about the trailer blocking her driveway.
Things began to find a rhythm in July. We bought a horribly uncomfortable (but cheap) starter couch from IKEA. On the weekends we explored new beaches. I maintained my Aussie tan. I flew to Fort Worth to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday. I got to see my sister pregnant for the first time.
In August we made our late-night TV debut when James Corden remarked on our sex lives in front of a live audience and all of America. You can see that (AND MY RED CHEEKS) here.
Matty spent a lot of time building his photography portfolio this year. There were photoshoots at our apartment practically every week and a few that took us out to some beautiful locations. He worked with model agencies and focused his work on capturing the authentic man.
I struggled a bit with writing and purpose, bouncing around quite a bit. With all the changes in our lives, I found it surprisingly difficult to call on inspiration. There were many moments where I had to give myself grace to simply stop and just be. It’s something I’m still working on. I feel like 2016 was a bit of a cocoon for me. I’m still not sure what’s happening on the inside, but there are tiny cracks in the seams that suggest I may find out soon.
Our first fall in California had me feeling a bit nostalgic for cooler days. I made soup when smoothies would have been a better option and we went apple picking when we could have sunbathed at the beach. A classic example of attempting to force myself into the next season when the current season wasn’t quite finished.
The hiking bug bit us in October. I voted early in October. We fell asleep on our couch on Halloween in October.
We finally got to host in our apartment on Thanksgiving. Matty helped me set the table for 7 people, all friends who’d migrated from New York. My planning spreadsheets paid off and the food was delicious. It ended up being one of my most favorite days this year.
A quick (too quick) weekend away took us to Yosemite National Park for Matty's birthday in December. And for the first time in my life, I stayed put for Christmas. Matty and I celebrated together in our home, opening gifts, cooking breakfast, and FaceTiming with dear family all over the world. We ended the night with burgers and La La Land. It was a happy Christmas, indeed.
Now, we arrive at one of the most invigorating times of the year: the beginning. I know we have a life-changing year ahead of us, though I can’t exactly pinpoint any one thing. Matty spent much of 2016 putting down roots for his photography career and I’m thrilled to see what happens for him in 2017. I’m not sure what’s next for me and for once, I’m okay with that. Let’s just...see what happens, shall we?
Cheers to the New Year! May yours be full of wonder, possibility, and a few happy surprises ;)