(New Year’s Eve, 2016)

It is with a great feeling of strangeness that I leave Spain. With Daniel gone, the last day somehow feels dimmer, the colors of Spain faded and tattered ever so slightly. Yet some interesting experiences unfold in my last twenty-four hours in Spain, which also happen to be the last hours of 2016.

I meet some of Daniel’s paternal Spanish family. Though the language barrier is ever-present, we introduce ourselves to one another with warm hugs. When I was a little girl, they used to send me little flamenco dresses, ornate turquoise and magenta slips of fabric. It’s a bit surreal to be meeting them for the first time as an eighteen-year old woman.

We spend the day walking around Granada, frequenting cafes and Middle Eastern shops. The last Spanish sunset I see is over the Alhambra, tourists milling about the Mirador de Saint Nicolas, my hiking boots stepping over darkening pavement.

In the quiet that inevitably rises with a language barrier and from being the youngest in a group of people, I have a lot of time to think about the past year. As we scurry to a restaurant, winding through mazes of people and stalls, I reminiscence over the shadows and light of 2016. With a quiet heart, I remember the people I’ve met over the past twelve months, as well as the few who I’ve had to leave behind. I follow the trail of my life as it twists and turns and dances through unexpectedness and uncertainty to this present moment.

I decided a while ago that 2015 was the year of perceptions, and now I decide that 2016 was the year of choices. What will 2017 be? Transformation, something whispers in my conscious. A spark of hope ignites across the sky of my psyche as we step into the bright warmth of a Moroccan restaurant.

Here I sit, on the last day of a year equal parts heaven and hell, drinking licorice tea in Spain with my cousin’s extended family. This time last year I was only a meager, desperate week into recovery from anorexia, dancing under a heavy sea of stars in the Masai Mara. I give thanks for the strength I have gained since then. How life flows, I think softly.

And something blooms a little bit inside. I suddenly laugh uncontrollably in the face of all the challenges and brokenness of the past two years.

I pick up a small piece of baklava, dripping with honey and sugar and pistachios. The very thought of it makes me anxious, but I eat it anyways. I gingerly sit back as the taste bursts into my mouth, the last painstaking choice of 2016.

And what a fabulous, fearless choice it turns out to be.

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