Memorable moments throughout my year:
I gleefully welcomed 2011 with a few of my closest friends in downtown Houston. Spaghetti Warehouse, a ferris wheel ride, cold weather, and several rounds of champagne were more than enough to lift our spirits (and our glasses) in honor of 2010's blessings and the promise of a new beginning.
I only ended up staying true to about half of my New Year's resolutions, but I'd like to think it was the more important half. (No, I'm not a marathon runner now. And my naps are as frequent as ever. But there's always another year to work on those things.) Before heading back to Austin for the spring semester, Matthew took Marissa and me on a joy ride up in the sky that I'll never forget.
In February, I gathered my courage and took up ballet again after five years. I experienced my first snow day in Austin and claimed my new favorite restaurant (as a result of its sinfully delicious chocolate cake).
I greatly anticipated the sweetest holiday and devoted a whole weekend to celebrating the true meaning of love. I might have even found the most beautiful view in the city, although I can't exactly call it my secret spot.
With March came sleepless nights and stressful days spent preparing for yucky midterms. All was well, however, when I packed up my bags and traveled to Sommerville, Texas for the 91st Aggie Awakening retreat that I staffed with my brother and his amazing friends. The couple of weeks surrounding AA#91 were some of the most exhausting of my spring semester, yet some of the most extraordinary as well.
Then came a glorious (but rather short) Spring Break that consisted of a family trip to Fredericksburg, complete with window shopping, rock climbing, and nightly barbecues. A week later, Jason ventured over to my side of Texas and got a taste of what he'd been missing out on for so many years.
April was a tad more laid back, thank goodness. I kicked off the month by celebrating Taylor's 19th birthday (a week late, due to the March madness) at a charming Italian restaurant downtown, and in the same week, went on a colorful exploration of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center with Meg.
The latter days of this rainy month were marked by a weekend reunion with my best girlfriends, a much-needed trip to Rayne for Easter, the final days of my failed Project365, and live footage of the loveliest wedding of the century.
In May, emotions were stirred by an American "victory" of sorts. During the homestretch of my first year of college, Smallville was to blame for my terrible procrastination and my surviving sanity. As a proud sister, I watched Jason walk across the stage and receive his college diploma.
I moved back to Houston for the summer, and the feeling of ecstasy sank in when I gathered together with my loves for our first trio night of the season.
Needless to say, beginning my 3-month internship for Weddings in Houston Magazine was everything I hoped it would be—an absolute dream come true.
June inspired feelings of childhood freedom and grownup independence all at the same time. While the busy weekdays flew by, each weekend seemed to slow down for the enjoyment and relaxation of casual summertime festivities.
However, the second summer month was by far the most extraordinary. July encouraged togetherness among my family when our worst fears became a reality. My beloved cousin joined the Lord in Paradise on the morning of July 2nd, but not before leaving a lasting impression on all of our hearts. One of the many great lessons Amanda taught us was to always "be nice" to each other, especially in difficult times. Her passing was peaceful, a subtle drift into eternal sleep, as her closest loved ones huddled around and held her little hands. Since then, she has sent several reminders that she watches over us from above.
Joy found its way back into my heart in the form of two magical weddings, a family trip to Colorado, the final Harry Potter midnight premier, and a relaxing evening out with the girls. I even managed to wrap up the thirty-week challenge that I began in October of the previous year.
After the final weeks of summertime solitude and carefree living had ended, August paved the way for my second year of college in Austin. This time, Kristen and I were fortunate enough to move into the apartment we'd been dreaming about, complete with a nice kitchen (for midnight baking sessions) and a bathroom that doesn't trigger symptoms of claustrophobia.
It wasn't long before we settled in with our lovely roommate and made a tradition of weekly adventures in the city.
On the first Saturday of September, I paid a 12-hour visit to my soul siblings in College Station...and, due to a little hiccup in our plans, ended up driving back home at 2:00 in the morning. (Never again.)
Lance spent a weekend in Austin for ACL and kindly allowed me to tag along with him and his Nashville friends to the festival, where my love for Sara Bareilles was rekindled. During this month, I also tasted the world's best donut, photographed Kristen at the fanciest hotel on 6th street, and planned a picnic at Barton Springs.
Leave it to me to celebrate the arrival of glorious October with a stroll around Austin's oldest graveyard. Unfortunately, I didn't run into any ghosts, but you can bet that I'm not giving up that fast. There's always next October for more ghost hunting.
My 20th birthday came and went, despite my long-time superstitions. And thanks to the Disney channel, Halloween proved once again to be my favorite night of the year.
November will be remembered for its jam-packed schedule, accompanying case of mild/short-lived heartache, a trip to a childhood-familiar Christmas tree farm, and my family's out-of-the-ordinary Colorado Thanksgiving.
Last but certainly not least, December brought some of the happiest moments of 2011. A unique spin on the Nativity play, post-finals karaoke night, several surprise engagements, a super sweet reunion, and matching snowmen pajamas were all apart of my wonderful holiday season.
Whew! If you managed to get through all of that, I'm impressed. It's been quite a year, full of triumphs, tears, blessings and obstacles. Part of me hopes that nothing changes—there's my nostalgic side shining through—but a bigger part of me can't wait to embrace everything that the new year has in store.
Happy 2012, everyone!