Of all the ways to measure, bracket, capture, and hold a year, this is always my favorite. I’m so thankful to Lydia for bringing it into my life.
I’m used to flying east. Moving almost 3,000 miles west of your family will do that, I suppose. I’ve spent the past nine years mastering the west-to-east redeye: choosing the best routes, learning how to fall asleep in airplane seats, navigating the next day on minimal sleep and maximum coffee. So I was surprised to see that this year, I spent just one night crossing the Great Plains from the air. Instead, I flew north and south and west — yes, west, for the first time, a challenging sleep situation of an entirely new sort.
Two big trips anchored the year: Japan in March, Vermont in October. They couldn’t have been more different. Japan was urban, strange, baffling. It was about throwing my arms around the unfamiliar, about opening up to whatever I could absorb. Vermont was about drawing close, seeking comfort, holing up with the simple pleasures of beer and cheese and magazines and my husband’s company.
Sports accounted for much of my travel in ways both obvious and not: Vineman brought two nights in the Santa Rosa hotel with the weird horse paintings; Courtney and I shared a, uh, minimal hotel room before HITS Napa; Wildflower meant more camping in Bradley; Folsom meant a steamy night near the Central Valley. But sports also had something to do with the Seattle trip that brought my Pacific Northwest friends together for a wild bike ride around the city, with a Tahoe reunion with some of my closest friends, and with another trip to the Central Coast, where I learned that a crisp dip in Lake San Antonio is a good antidote to a beer festival.
As I move deeper into my 30s, I believe more and more in the adage that there are families you get and families you make. December, for me, was about all of those families. I wrote most of this on a plane pointed back west, after 10 days and seven states of road-tripping between parents and in-laws. In Michigan, I read Curious George with one niece, talked about wedding plans with another, and helped cook breakfast for my in-laws’ anniversary. And in Pennsylvania, I helped my parents pack up my childhood home: sorting through boxes of the funny little treasures that make up our lives; unearthing a Spirograph and junior high planners full of inside jokes I don’t remember; seeing the card my dad used to propose to my mom.
And now I head north again, to Sonoma, to once again huddle with my California family — a growing family, with two babies at the house this year! — to start dreaming about the big, blank year to come.
2013 YEAR IN CITIES
Dillon Beach, CA
Paso Robles, CA
San Francisco, CA*
San Luis Obispo, CA
Santa Cruz, CA
Santa Rosa, CA
Ann Arbor, MI
A plane over the Pacific Ocean*
A plane somewhere over the US
About Year in Cities: All listed cities are those in which I spent at least one night between January 1, 2013, and December 31, 2013, with * denoting those cities in which I spent multiple non-consecutive nights. 2009 here, 2010 here, 2011 here, 2012 here.