Finale Part 3: Tokunbo

Dear Suliat,
Thank you. Thank you for letting go. I told you how I didn’t believe in the idea of holding on to someone who doesn’t also want to hold you, no matter how good holding that person feels. So I’m grateful you shared that vision with me. It was hard not to be bitter at first. But I see what to be grateful for now. So thank you. I’m glad we can still be friends… but not right now though. Hope you understand. Surely you must.
I wish you much, much happiness :*

Dear Pops,
I love you. Despite that day in February. I’ve always wished we could have a better relationship, always hoped something could be savaged there. That day nearly left me hopeless though. Nearly left me with a validation and justification for the actions I was being (unjustly) crucified for. Nearly. But no, regardless of how much time has passed and how much water has flowed under the bridge, I choose to believe it can be better. It will be. I love you 🙂

Yo, Nigerian borders,
I conquered you. Finally. Twice! Haha. You thought you could keep me entrapped, abi? Una no reach! God pass y una! Many might not see how much of a deal this is, but you and I know, don’t we? You know wassup. *wink* Those trips were eye opening and educative in ways that watching DSTV and reading international magazines were insufficient for. And that was just the beginning, more victories coming soon… Buahahaha! 😀

Dear Career,
This was a good year, wasn’t it? A year of plenty slack finally being cut for us. Several highs, several lows. Never mind that that slack has at the moment been gathered back so rapidly, that all there is is a very tight noose threatening to cut off the oxygen. Never mind that at all. We’ll sail through these travails, surf these rapids like we in the little children’s rubber pool in the backyard. God’s got us.

My homie MrBigTyme,
(I never did get what it was about the moniker you liked, but issolrai, so long as you like it, issokay) You the best, my nigga. Thank you for picking me from and dropping me from the airport and for being such a great host. Thank you for your patience where I was (and still have been) so utterly unreliable. Thank you for staying reliable and understanding. Thank you for staying my friend. I owe you Big Tyme. (See what I did there? Hehe)

Hey RavA,
My darling wifey. (I need to rename you though. Or do I? *shrug*) We’ve been through too many bumps for the rather short length of our marriage. You’ve spent too much time away from my arms and I accept the responsibility I bear in this. Don’t worry, I promise to be a better lover going forward. No more inflicting scratches and scrapes. No more leaving you in the arms of another man. No more oversights.

My Nostalgians,
Sorry for not paying as much attention to you as I did to Art Stories, but you sha know where priorities lie. Don’t worry, you guys will binge this January and then… Hehe. You guys will be fine jor.

Hallo Olo,
You’re a sprig of solace in spring. Thank you, for waltzing into my life when you did. I recognize the rarity and high value of the kind of friendship we have and I promise to never devalue it. But this friend zone you threw me into is so sticky and hot, I’m not complaining sha. Issolgud. You are loved. *hugs*

Dear Tools and Wol-E,
Thank you for the platform. Even now, a year after, I marvel at how consistent and on-point you both always are. I said I’d write and I wrote, I just wasn’t nearly as reliable as I could have been. Despite all the challenges, I will be though. Thank you so much for understanding. We’re doing a powerful thing here and I’m just glad to be a part of it.

Dear Wallet,
*breaks down in tears* This was not the plan o. You know, abi? *sniff* I know we had hopes and dreams but this was not the plan. you were supposed to be much fatter than this *sigh* Oh well. E go beta. E musto beta.

Dear Good friends,
If I start mentioning names now, I won’t stop. But I’ll start. Nah, I wont. Ok, small. Kelv, Vick, Tomi, Ibukun, Bukky, Tosin, Rah, Moyin, Bule, Qama, Kola, Ore, Jegzy, Kunle, Lolia. Thank you for being there this year. I love y’all.

Dear Toxic,
You’re amazing and I know you know. But try harder. You know you can do more, better. Folk keep telling you, stop disappointing them. Show them the son of whom you are.

Baba God,
I love you so much. I know say I nor try this year. I nor try at all. I know say nor be to dey do new year resolution, but even doe me and you take as we take understand awasef, I dey talk am now say I go try better from now forward. Thunder faya my yansh if I misbehave (I dey play o! But I dey serious too sha…) X_x

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And there you have it from Tokunbo, a farewell letter to the citizens of 2013. Looking forward to meeting the new actors in the 2014 life drama.

Thank you all for coming along with us on this journey. It’s been painful, refreshing, bittersweet, encouraging, honest and downright uplifting as a whole. I’m honoured to have been your messenger and editor through it all this month. I hope, if you haven’t already done so, that you get the chance to sit down and review what you did in 2013, what happened to you and how you reacted and changed and grew as a result.

God bless you all. Happy New Year 2014. Much love

*bows awkwardly, walks stiffly off the stage*

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Finale Part 2: Adeyemi (Panda)

“CapoeiraPanda: Dear Lord, don’t let my ashiri tu in 2013.”

That was my first, actual prayer this year, tweeted on January 1st.

Of course, as you know – if you follow me on Twitter, or were anywhere near the internet a few hours after that tweet – things didn’t actually pan out that way; my year started out with a lot of ridicule and embarrassment, thanks to a particular (kissing) picture which I can’t seem to find a copy of (Efe if you find that picture and add it to this post, I’ll have you assassinated).

So, following that trend, nothing in 2013 went like I’d planned, honestly. I’ve read a couple of people’s posts in this series, and I really wish I could do a month by month knockdown of how the year went. However, my memory has decided that I’m not worthy enough to organize itself chronologically, so I’ll just try the “anywhere belle face” approach, and tell you how things went based on the lessons I learned.

“Be ready to learn”

In January 2013, I was new to life. My little girl was two months old, and I was realizing just how… “not easy” it was to have a baby. Not exactly for me, seeing as I didn’t live with her and my basic duties when I went over to see her every other day involved changing her diapers (which she managed to soil like a champion), and singing John Legend’s “High” till she fell asleep, but for her mother, and those who did live with her and were charged with being her primary caregivers. On my  end, I realized that even the little things like Huggies Diapers for Newborns and Aloe Scented Wipes could leave an interesting dent in a grown man’s pocket and well, I had to figure something out.

“Be ready to change”

I saw one of my best friends carrying his dad to the hospital, and decided I wasn’t going to be that kind of person who threw away good health just to chase money, leaving his children to deal with the consequences later in life, so I hooked up with a personal trainer, and began a journey into improved health; for myself, for my daughter, and for her younger ones who may show up sometime in the future.

“Battles will come”

In January, my woman and I went through a battle that melded us together. It was tough, and it would have been easy for any man to run and leave her to fight it herself, but I grit my teeth and stayed with her, and going through that fight helped us become stronger as a team.

I learned, that fear was pointless. That when faced with a challenge, the best thing to do is to simply face it head on, pray, and break through it.

In February, my lady started having health issues. Hospital to hospital, doctor to doctor, nobody could tell us what exactly was going on with her. But then, some doctor told us a few things;she was hypotensive. She’d gone her whole life, not eating properly, and doing a lot of things wrong, and it was starting to kill her. I remember the day she told me; I looked at her and thought, “this thing didn’t kill you last year, when I had no idea who you are. It’s now that you’ve come into my life that it wants to take you away? So funny.”

In May, I reached what had to be my lowest point at my job. I was going to work tired, working through the day and coming home exhausted. I loved what I did, but hated where I was doing it. I was overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated. Worst of all, I knew I deserved better. I tried to get better. I applied to different places, for different positions. I took tests, and for the first time in nine years, after working hard for excellence and “First Class Status”, I was failing and getting rejected.

Then in June, I found out Blossom had been diagnosed with “Anal Cancer”. A rather rare form of cancer, they told me. So why the hell did my mother have it, if it was so damn rare? Again, I said hello to Fear. I wept at the thought that she could be taken away from me by something so horrible. That the last time I’d have seen her was when she waved as she went off to get on a plane. That she wouldn’t get to hear her granddaughter call her “Nan”, and complain that the kid was too fast for her when she ran all over the place.

And then October came, and a doctor told us a bone in my daughter’s foot wasn’t growing properly, and she’d have to get surgery. He said that was probably why she hadn’t started walking, even though she was almost a year old. My first thought was “What in the actual f**k is going on? All three of my women, in one year?”

“Leaning is not a sign of weakness”

I taught this to Kiitan mi, and then started to learn it myself. I found myself having to lean on Victor Kalu, Justice Ojiaka, Kiitan mi, Remi Olutimayin, and I realized that they would never judge me for it. That the fact that I recognized my weaknesses and came to them for help was a sign that I was strong, and that they would be strong for me.

“Death respects nobody”

In the month of June, a star fell from my sky. She may not have been the brightest in my life, but her light shone on me in ways that nobody could ever replicate, and she was gone. She would never get to see Nadine wear the dress she’d gotten her. I’d never get to dance with her again after plying her with alcohol, regardless of her protests. I’d never hear her encourage me to be all I could be and draw strength from her the never ending well in her soul.

“Fear will eventually become hatred. Do not use it as a tool for respect”

Things between my old man and I finally reached a peak where I would not be afraid anymore. I spoke my mind to him, and let him know exactly where things stood between us.

“Humility is key”

A friend once said to me, “There comes a time in every man’s life, where he will be humbled beyond his wildest imagination.”

In 2013,I learned humility; that my pride was nothing when there were responsibilities I had to fulfil and deal with. I heard words spoken to me by people that hurt and broke me in ways that I’d never have believe possible, but I had to swallow those words and force myself to change, because that was all I could do. I found myself going to meet people for help, that I would have never have given a second thought to in ordinary times.

“Certainty without flaw is often delusion, and no certainty at all”

At some point, I had no idea what was going to happen. I lived with the simple belief that even though they never went as I planned, things would get better some way or the other.

“Love is never a smooth road”

I’ve always known the truth behind the statement, “Love is never enough”, but I learned how much work it truly is. Behind the picture of roses and butterflies, the tale of our love holds tears, bloody knuckles, broken doors and shattered bottles.

But… things didn’t turn out so bad.

My woman and I? We started working at it. Step by step, changing what she ate, researching about how to deal with hypotension, exercise, inch by inch, with God helping us, we brought her out of it. And you should see my woman now; she couldn’t walk down the street without passing out, once upon a time, but now she works out with me every other day and is stronger than she’s ever been in her life. Our battles have made us stronger. We’ve become a team, and we’re working on becoming a power couple to be reckoned with. Start saving your ticket money; Turks & Caicos may be sooner than y’all think. 🙂

Blossom? She went through her treatments like a warrior. She’s back home now, moving a little slower than she used to, but with that same awesome sense of humor, and that big old heart brimming with love and kindness. I love her more than I ever have, and I’m going to do my best to make sure she reaps the benefit of being a great mother, raising a good man.

Baby Bear? Well, a different doctor looked at the foot and showed us how to simply massage it back into place. She was walking about by her first birthday, and is kinda impossible to catch these days. Things still aren’t as easy as I’d like them to be, and the challenges are still there. But I’m doing my best every day. Trying to make the right decisions so I can be the right person for her. Provider, protector, teacher, and most importantly, Father.

I lost 25 kg in less than seven months. The discipline and hard work involved was immense, but I did it. I have a lot of people to thank for supporting me, but I have to thank Olumide Alabi and FireBox Fitness for being my main motivators.

In the last quarter of the year, when I thought there was nothing good that could come, and I’d lost hope, I applied for a job and started the interview process. It was crazy, difficult, exhilarating and frustrating at the same time. And in November, God made it happen. I got that email congratulating me, and knew that indeed, God always has a plan, and sometimes, he loves us enough to be late.

Now, we’re at the end of the year. The end, which was a beginning. We decided to make it official; loving, learning, growing with each other. She’s the helpmate that I never thought I’d have, and after spending the last 525,949 minutes with her, learning her (eg. fellas, if your woman says “no, I’m not hungry” the smart thing is to still get food for the both of you. Else, you may die hungry), and letting her love me despite my stubborn nature and penchant to fart when I’m lying next to her, I’m grateful to God for bringing her my way, and hope that this new year of our life and relationship is even better than the last year.

Thank you, 2013.

You weren’t what I thought I wanted, but you gave me everything I didn’t know I needed.

Alhamdulillahi, Hallelujah

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Hallehamdulillahi. All I could think of while reading this was, here’s a true Fatona. No idea what that means. All the best to you Panda, and the women in your life. Thank you for sharing.

Finale Part 1: Victor

Lessons

It’s 10am on New Year’s Eve and I still don’t know where to begin. I started this year on a high; healthy, money in the bank, a wonderful support system of optimistic friends and family and a faith that could not be shaken. I was untouchable. I am not anymore.

I had an arrogance that stemmed from always getting what I wanted. My philosophy has always been simple; anything is attainable if you work hard at it. I applied that in work, my relationships with other people and so far it had worked for me. That philosophy hasn’t changed but I learnt some other lessons this year that I am most grateful for.

One. I am not the master.

“Jesus, the Master of my fate;
That lies in wiser, abler hands;
And I am captain of my soul
Only if He besides me stands.”

I forgot to look to the source as regards a lot of things. I made mistakes with work, believed too much in my abilities, made rash decisions and fell flat on my face. I made mistakes in my relationship; I forgot to put God first and lost a treasure. I learnt. I am grateful.

Two. I will not always understand God’s will, but He always has a plan.

“Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them” (Ps. 139:16)

I’m not a stranger to death but this year it hit me hard. The death of a friend so full of life, so full of promise, an amazing friend, left me shaken. I didn’t accept it as God’s will. I couldn’t understand why. I still don’t, but I am grateful that I knew her. I am grateful that in her short life she touched so many of us and even in her death she inspires us to be better people.

When my friend’s mum died a few months later I almost cursed God. Such a wonderful person, breadwinner of her family (their father had passed on a few years ago) and a woman whose faith in God I always admired. I couldn’t bring myself to go to the funeral. I couldn’t bring myself to grieve. Funny how her son was the one comforting me months later and helping me accept God’s will. I am grateful for you Ifeanyi. Thank you.

Three. Forgiveness takes time.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV)”

“The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest…”

My best friend and I fell apart this year. Sucks because I saw it happening yet I could do nothing about it. I fought, I begged, I got mad. Went back and forth for a few months till I couldn’t take it anymore and got off the emotional roller-coaster. I judged her. Even when she apologized and tried to make amends, I judged her. I hurt her with my unforgiveness. I hurt myself. I was so filled with self-righteous anger that I didn’t allow myself heal. I am sorry. I forgive you. Everyday. Please forgive me.

Four. I am human. I am flawed.

“There’s a thin line between a saint and a sinner. A thin line between looking out for yourself and being a selfish asshole…” (Daywalker)

All of the mistakes I made this year humbled me; knocked me right of my flawless white high horse. I did a lot of things I swore I’d never do. I became selfish and put my own selfish desires above others so many times and embraced the asshole in me. I thought I was being ‘smart’ but I wasn’t. I was only becoming unbecoming. It’s easier to play victim than to rise above bullshit and become a better person or at least try to be.

Lastly. Don’t ever quit.

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” (Nelson Mandela)

I have found God’s strength in my own weakness. I refuse to be defined my experiences, to play it safe, to take the easy road. I’ve tried coasting, burying my head in the sand and it sucks in all honesty. So I’m done with that. I’ll never stop trying; to be a better person, a better son, a better friend, a better lover.

I’m grateful for the people in my life that allow me be all these things and push me to be more. For my family, for the friends that have become family, Kelvin Steve, Adeyemi Fatona, Vivian Aigbe, Christopher Ogbuehi, Dania Idam, Toluwaleke Odunuga, Olisaeloka Obi. I love you guys.

To my lover, my friend, Adumaadan, thank you. We’re just getting started. I love you.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
(Invictus- William Ernest Henly)

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Here’s to many more fruitful years Victor. With these lessons learned so far, they can’t be anything but. Thank you for sharing bro.

Break of Dawn: Talabi

I’m here again who would have thunk it?… 2013 started pretty much the same way 2012 started; sitting alone in my living room watching TV.  It was not a very festive period, I wanted to be in Lagos, but I had work that had to be done. Anyways, it gave me time to reflect and this time I had a new prayer on my lips and fewer complaints.

My first full year or so in engineering in a manufacturing environment brought a lot of things to light. It showed me a lot of things I did not want to be. 90% routine and the odd moment of genius didn’t cut it for me and this prompted me to test some of my other skills.  Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up on my roots, but I’d much rather look back at myself and laugh at an error I made than to regret that I never tried.

Opportunities came and went, they still are. Doubt was always present, it still is. I’ve only learned how to accommodate it without affecting my decisions too much. I can’t bore you with the details but in summary I’ve been the guidance counsellor I never had to help me shape my career path. Although some things have not worked out (some catastrophic failures included), it has been a fun experience and the steepest learning curve I’ve had to endure in my short life. Anyone who knows me personally knows how hard it is for me to admit failure, that’s one thing this ‘discovery’ process has helped me with.

At work, my career progressed quite well. I was part of two major successful projects and one of them even got my face on the internal newspaper (along with the team of course). Another project I designed and specified is up and running and it was perfect to hear about that project over a random discussion where I was having dinner with mates. I spent time later in the year working as an analyst scrutinizing potential capital projects because of the harsh financial climate at work.  While it was fun, let’s just say I didn’t make many new friends telling people their projects were not up to scratch.

Speaking of harsh financial climates, it was never hidden that the steel industry was hard hit by the recession. We all knew at some point tough decisions would be taken, different rumours and conspiracy theories from closing down the plant to replacing the entire management team. On the 29th of October at 10:51 am we received that dreaded email that over 10% of all the jobs would have to be cut to make ends meet, I’ve never seen faster deflation. The overall mood went from ‘bubbly’ to ‘whatever’ in the days and weeks to follow.

The new employees (that I am part of) were told our jobs were safe, but the mood was still like trying to inflate a pricked balloon. If I was unhappy before, now I was losing it entirely. My motivation was at an all time low and I was very uncomfortable knowing almost everyone around me could lose their jobs in one fell swoop. It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to contend with this year. Speaking to people across your desk and listening to them talk about how uncertain the future looked for them. A lot of these people know nothing outside this job they do and this town they’ve lived in for decades. I wish them well.

Personally, it’s been a tough year. Apart from the great task of trying to shape my career, living in this town is tough. It’s the loneliest place I’ve ever been in. There are very few people I can have a proper discussion with. Its a backward place in many respects. My social life was limited to watching football, our weekly 5 a side league, TV game shows, series and the odd movie. I have some wonderful colleagues but after some time you get tired of hanging out with the same few people every single time. I think I can safely say I did not make any new friends this year; I just got closer to some people and drifted apart from some others. At the weekends I would watch football and pretend to be in Lagos on social media. Ah yes, spending my birthday alone every year is becoming a thing. On the bright side, the church I attend here is really nice with genuinely nice people; in my short time there, I’ve seen how genuine love and care can change people’s lives.

However, it was not all gloom and doom. My ever-present friends always kept me company with their bare jokes every time we talked. Those calls from family left a smile long after pressing the end button. Elle est fantastique! All through the year, she was awesome. She kept me going, even on days when I just want to stop and give up. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that a big chunk of what makes you happy is hinged on another person’s happiness. It’s an even better feeling knowing that the feeling is mutual. I sometimes find myself doing things because I know it would give me another chance to see that beaming smile (sadly on FaceTime or Skype most times). My trips to Nigeria were the high points of my year. As you read this, I’ll be in Lagos for the third time; that’s where I’m truly happy and very soon, it would be permanent.

My MSc. graduation was another high point this year. It felt weird going back 9 months later to do it, but it made it more fun seeing everyone again after such a long time. Family members came from far and wide and trust them to throw a ‘small’ party when they can get enough of the gang together (I couldn’t count the number of people there and knew like 15% only). My brother left my graduation to propose in Paris the day after, nice eh! He taught me everything I know and is still teaching me. My darling sister had her third child and my parents have never been happier since I’ve known them, retirement is a wonderful thing. The first one of my wolf pack is married and it’s still weird to me more than 6 months after. My friends are doing great, switching to wonderful jobs and doing what they really want to do. It has been a very good year for my people.

Some other high points this year… Ozil became a gunner and I sat with Yaya Toure on an hour long flight… YES these things are that important to me, maybe more than you can possibly imagine.

Throughout the year, God has been faithful in my unfaithfulness. This year has shown me I have tough skin when it comes to disappointment. I changed my perspective on giving and I pray I always have enough to improve it and make it last. I’ve had to make some really big decisions. I’ve seen that I don’t have the answers. I can control only very little. I have to trust God and make sure the most important people and things are catered for in these plans to the best of my ability. Uncertainty kills me but we live in an uncertain world, so I’ve finally agreed to go with the flow and run my own race.

Sometimes you’re ahead,

      Sometimes you’re behind.

      The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

    Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much

      or berate yourself either.

      Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. – Baz Luhrmann

Before I go, the prayer on my lips on 01/01/2013 at 00:00:01 concerned me, a job and moving back to Nigeria. Thank God that though it tarried, I waited only 353 days…

I’ll be starting a new job in 2014, with new employers and the exciting prospect of travelling to a few countries before settling down in Nigeria pioneering a project. It was really emotional handing in my quit notice at my current office but it’s one of those things that comes with this scam of growing up and moving on.

Thanks for reading (this long post) up to this point. I don’t want to limit God so here’s to an even better 2014.

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You thank us when we should be THANKING you for raising our faith and spirits. Your account reads like the victory lap of a gladiator in a chariot and all I can say is, God give you the grace to keep your head and trust in him. Thank you for sharing Muyiwa 🙂

Midnight Surprise: Jason

2013

There’s a Stephen King story, about a man who finds a finger crawling out of his sink. At the end, having looked in the face of horror and driven to the verge of insanity, the man asks a question and receives the answer.
“Why,” he asks, “Do bad things happen to good people?”

2013 had a lot of pain inside it.

At the start of the year, some impish devil curled up behind my right ear and whispered: this will be the year that breaks itself across your back.
I found that very poetic. And also distressing.
So I shrugged it off, and braced myself. 

Time and again this year, I could feel the great weight bearing down on me. The great tide flinging itself again and again against me, the eternal wheel rolling to crush me in its spokes.
And me, one single solitary human being bearing up under the weight. Adrift in the middle of chaos. Treading water, straddling air. 

But all that activity turned out to be hardly as important as it sounds.

The most important part of this year, if I am to be honest, is that I loved a girl.
Some people are lucky and meet someone they can love for the rest of their lives. A standard by whom all other loves will stand or fall. The one great true love of their lives.
She is mine.

And though the year was full of pain, there she was in the middle: the recurring theme, the plot holding the madness together, the thread woven through the patchwork of the ragged quilt.

And when I look back at 2013, it is her face I see. Painted over the angry swirls and whorls.
And for this, I am truly grateful.

Books I enjoyed: 
Terry Pratchett’s DiscWorld Series, Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy, Isaac Asimov’s End of Eternity and Foundation Series, Max Broooks’ Zombie Survival Guide.

Movies I enjoyed: 
Man of Steel, Olympus has Fallen.

TV Shows I got into:
Dexter, Walking Dead, Arrested Development

Unutterable feats of awesomeness performed
Many. All unutterable

Things I lost: 
My way, on a visit to my brother’s.
1 blackberry phone charger
1 blackberry phone (found later found at my brother’s)
1 pair of slippers (they were a gift. If you took them, know I will find you and exact my revenge)

Lessons learned:
Not to fall asleep during a serious conversation with a lady. It does not become the amusing anecdote you hope it will.

Not to go for premier of ANY Nigerian movie, especially one your friend invites you to. Not only will you have a miserable time, you will be unable to complain about it.

To fight for what I want.

Number of new friends I made:
3

Number of New Friends made I am currently Avoiding:
3

Number of times I said sorry:
> 800 and counting

Number of hours spent wondering if a zombie apocalypse could really happen and planning what to do in the event thereof
13

Most Apt Quote of 2013
“This life…is just a pot of beans.”

Saddest thing about 2013
I felt the pain of losing life. 3 times.

Worst Song I Listened To
WTF – Etcetera
Truly a horrible song. I encourage everyone to listen to it.

…………………….

Oh yes. About that man and his question.
“Why”, he asked, “Do bad things happen to good people.”

And the answer he came up with -which is the best answer on this issue I have found- is this: Because they can.
Quite simple really, when you think on it.

The imp was right.
This was the year that broke itself across my back.
The year that broke. 
Not me.

And looking back I can see: the important thing is to love. and Live. And not lose faith.
Even when this life is nothing but a pot of beans.

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This life is a pot of beans, but some beans are on top in the pot.

Dusk: Oyin

Roots

That’s what the year 2013 was supposed to be about. About building strong foundations and creating roots and becoming some level headed, suburbia loving woman with a stable relationship and sticking to a job like GROWN UPS are usually expected to do. In my mid-twenties, even I had begun to expect so much more from myself that I probably usually would. Or maybe I’m just a confused overachiever.

Anyway, this year taught me a huge lesson. MY GOD!! Do you know I actually thought that I was so in touch with life that I knew almost everything? Well, 2013  said SCREW YOU AND ALL YOUR PLANS OYIN, I’M GONNA TEACH YOU A LESSON YOU WILL NEVER FORGET!

I moved to Abuja in January because I was looking for roots, a foundation, space, a less dramatic life and keeping a promise I made to myself and my lover. Yup, I just packed my load AND MOVED. I didn’t have 300k when I did it. Hell, I think I had just about 100k, no housing and a sketchy plan. Smartest thing I did was keep my job.

In Abuja, Everything seemed to be on track until March. March Came like a big hurricane shaking huge coconut trees in my “home”. In March, my lover and I started our drama AGAIN! Our friends and families were getting tired of the drama. I thought we were too but I really don’t think that we were. We were hurting each other in ways that only someone who knows you completely can hurt you and it just steadily got worse. He wasn’t talking. I wasn’t listening. Everybody was trying to give advice and we were being so stubborn. After agreeing that we needed to make very extreme moves, Victor had an accident. No, not the kind where an okada runs into you and you have a few broken bones.

No, he had an accident. The type that had me running into an ICU at 6am to face a man trapped in a mangled body. Almost every bone was broken, skull fracture, brain bleed… the works. And then it all became clear. I mean all the stubbornness and madness had led to what? Him being at the wrong place at the wrong time because he was trying to run away from me and all the drama. We were in the hospital for 2 whole months. Brain surgery, jaw surgery, resetting bones, so many reconstructive surgeries, Changing sheets, teaching him to stand and walk and trying to handle all sorts of depression I had only read about before. When I think about March 2013, I don’t want to get into cars. I don’t want to move. I don’t want to take Victor for granted ever again. I want to just lie in bed and hold all the people I love with me and never let them go anywhere. The paranoia skyrocketed.

Still in March, My brother started having issues with clearing school and it seemed like everything was getting too much. I was going crazy, sleeping on hospital floors, waking up at 4am to work (cuz yes, I was still working), taking care of Victor and my brothers, AND  just basically trying to be a person.  It was the worst!

May came and after all that gore, we could go home. May taught me two very clarifying things:
1.      See these Christians that act like they are really supporting you and praying for you, watch out for what they say about the “sinners”. That’s how you know if Christianity really runs in their veins. Yes, a very deceitful “Christian worker friend” taught me this lesson.
2.      You can only take advice from people who really know you. Forget all that jazz about objective assessment. If the person does not know you, the person can only see from HIS point of view.

A few months down the line, and a whole lot of therapy later, I’d learnt so much about handling myself better, people better, what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) really really is and I’d begun to feel old! Oh well…. Things were going so well again. Victor was healing faster than anyone expected. The doctors were shocked. They’d said he’d need at least 18 months before he could be himself again. It’s been about 6 months since he had his brain surgery. YOU SHOULD SEE MY BABY NOW!!!! GOD IS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!

Things of course got better and we were better. I was listening more. I don’t think I’ll ever be totally drama free but he’s more patient so it’s perfect. And we are getting married. Maybe I won’t choke  and run away screaming in fear.

In October, we lost one of our best friends in an accident. We were living in a real life horror movie. It brought March back, it brought all those long hospital days back. And somehow we wished for that. We were wishing for therapy and madness and pain, instead of standing over a coffin and wondering what life is about, WHY these things were happening. I have so many questions still. So many questions.

In that moment, I realized that I wanted to come HOME. To my mother. To my brothers. To my friends.  Yes, against my very objective desire for Lagos not to be home, IT IS. The smelly, dirty, headache causing Lagos felt like Home and I had to come back and start all over. I was done with Abuja…at least in the meantime. And maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to put down roots, build foundations. Be a better friend to the people who ALWAYS swat my madness away like a pesky fly, and I’d be less dramatic. Maybe.

With my new amazing job (Yes, I got a new amazing job), and marriage plans and my brothers doing so well now, Right now it feels like I’m on the right track. I STILL don’t particularly have an apartment (YES, THIS IS AN AD FOR WHOEVER WANTS TO GIVE ME A HOUSE AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE) AND I’m still learning to be a better person TO MYSELF. To my friends. To my Family. To my Lover.  To People.

This year, I realized that Oyin cannot make everything go the way she wants it to go. She can’t plan everything, then sulk and misbehave when things don’t go her way. She can be dependent and independent at the same time without compromising her stand. And that PRIDE GOES BEFORE A FRIGGING RIDICULOUS FALL. God does things on his own terms.

AND I’M WAYYYY STRONGER THAN I LOOK.

Day 30: Sorell

2013. The Year of Enlightenment. Around this time in 2012, that’s what You said it would be. No, let me rephrase that. That’s what we agreed it would be. And it started off so well. But doesn’t it always? What happened? Where did I screw up? What went wrong?

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, was it? It wasn’t supposed to feel this empty. Didn’t you want this for so long? Didn’t you think this was the answer? Didn’t you think getting all you wanted would make you happy?

Well why didn’t You stop me?

How could I? All I could do was let you have your way, and if you were wise, then, and only then would you finally see.

See what? That you want me to be 100% dependent on you? Why? Do you have any idea how hard that is for me? That the things my heart desired and got made me feel a little emptier inside?

Yes. But why do you think so?

Because I’m broken?

You are. But that’s not the answer.

Because I wanted the wrong things?

No.

Because my motives were impure? Because You had bigger and better planned for me?

Exactly. And that’s what enlightenment was. I had to shift your focus. I had to avert your eyes. I had to change the way you thought. I had to prepare you for next year.

I thought I was going to be enlightened about the reason I’m here in the first place. I thought it would be made sooo much clearer.

You thought wrong.

There’s still so much uncertainty about the future.

Wait. And trust Me.

I’m thankful for all I got. But I want more. So much more.

But you’re not ready…

Yes I am. I keep telling you I am.

But you keep showing me you’re not. It’s in the way you react to certain situations solely out of pride. It’s in your indiscipline. It’s in your laziness. But make no mistakes. I’m not saying you’re not ready because you have flaws. No. I’m saying you’re not ready because you’re yet to hand those flaws over to me. You’re yet to totally depend on me and nobody else.

But that’s not how You made me.

I made you perfect for your assignment.

Then I’m letting go. It terrifies me, but I know it shouldn’t. Just do as You please.

***
As always, this year was a rollercoaster.

This year, I confronted my own brokenness like never before. I faced a lot of my demons. I may not have defeated them all, but I no longer act like ignoring them will just make them go away.

This year, I grew up. Nobody told me how hard it would be. But I’m glad it happened.

This year, I sunk to new lows. Not necessarily because I was at the lowest point ever in my life, but it just felt that way because I knew I should have known better AND done better.

This year, I lost my drive too many times. I was weak. I was tired. I was quitting. I couldn’t see the big picture.
But through it all, I’m thankful.

For music that kept me sane when I was on the edge.

For conversations that were a light in the dark tunnel. (Thank you Nugi, Wendy, Fei, Kelv, Tico, gbo gbo ti gbo)

For new friends. (See parenthesis above)

And I’m thankful for the lessons learned.

2014 is (almost) here. For the first time since I began getting “themes” for each year, it’s not the year “of” anything, it’s the year TO do something. It’s a verb. And I’m just as excited about it right now, as I was 2 months ago when you told me.

I can sense the weight of 2014 on my shoulders already. And until I wrote that last sentence, I was scared and worried I would screw things up. And then suddenly, I’m not.

Bring it on…

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Now it all comes together. Now it makes sense. Now you feel like a brother.