Baby Got Back: Thoughts on a Year

by Kohleun

Last night I killed a 16 oz. coffee at the table by the window in one of my old haunts with a new but dear friend. We realized together that, despite a few false starts and intermediate life lessons, we’re doing exactly what our childhood selves wanted for us. He’s a teacher and writer, married to an artist who always dreamed of being an artist, and I’m stepping back in to the design world and writing again. A year ago last night I bet I was sitting in that same coffee shop, scared of the future and the fact that I chose just 24 hours before not to be an academic—not to pursue the dream for which my 18-year-old self committed to working her ass off. As I turn twenty-seven, I have the nagging feeling 18-year-old Koh would write me a nasty letter, probably in verse, about how disappointed she is in me for giving up the dream. She has no idea.

My year at twenty-five was a period of slow losing. By the time I reached twenty-six, I didn’t feel like I had much left to give or to be taken from me. It certainly wasn’t all bad. I lost things that made me better for the losing. I was a walking Elizabeth Bishop poem. It seemed like Twenty-Six would be a continuation of those losses. And for a while it was. I lost a lot of trust in friends. I lost the last bit of hope I had in relationships and people’s ability to build healthy ones. But because of the preceding year, I also lost that last layer of inhibitions that had told me for the past twenty-six years, “Don’t do that.” “Don’t say that.” “Don’t risk it.” So, I step in to Twenty-Seven open to new things and to getting things back. Because sometimes, though we don’t deserve it, we do get things back: dreams, energy, ideas, people, and the fortitude to try. So instead of my usual list of new experiences I resolve to have in the coming year, here are twenty-six things—small and tall—that I got back this year.

  1. Clothing and costume design. I got to design one of my favorite period productions with some old friends (who in that way I also got back).
  2. A sewing machine.
  3. College friends who are now my post-college friends.
  4. The experience of writing for pleasure.
  5. The experience of writing for money.
  6. Hope for Veronica Mars. You guys, the movie comes out March 14.
  7. The last bit of hope I had in relationships and people’s ability to build healthy ones.
  8. A sense of place, though I won’t be here forever.
  9. Gardening!
  10.  Time to cook.
  11. Creative evenings.
  12. A sense of direction.
  13. People to bake for.
  14. Venues for wearing pretty dresses.
  15. Sleepovers with my BFFs.
  16. Someone Special.
  17. San Diego.
  18. A coffee press.
  19. Quiet mornings.
  20. Daily hugs.
  21. Laughter.
  22. An orchid plant.
  23. Sunshine. On many days.
  24. Sleeping soundly through the night.
  25. An unshakable feeling that I am enough.
  26. Feeling loved for exactly who and what I am.