Usually, single people dread New Year’s Eve, and I used to be one of them. I’m sharing my story in the hopes that it will inspire even one person to change their mindset because life is short, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s this: Just find one reason, ONE reason, to show up, instead of thinking about all the reasons why you shouldn’t. And I’m not just talking about showing up to a New Year’s Eve party you don’t want to go to, but showing up to life in general. Showing up when you’re scared, and it’s uncomfortable, and you feel vulnerable. Showing up when you would rather be doing literally anything else – because showing up is how we grow, and learn… and it’s how we fall in love.
On New Year’s Eve 2013, I had plans to go with a close friend of mine to a house party, but she bailed on me last minute. Even though I was single and dreading what I thought was the most overrated holiday of the year, I had already put on fake eyelashes, so I refused to stay in. If you’ve ever put on fake eyelashes before, then you know what I’m talking about.
Anyways, I was scrambling to find other plans when I thought to call my friend Rory. I knew Rory from working in the entertainment industry – she’s an actress and I was a screenwriter. She was the perfect person to call because she always had something fun to do, and I knew she wouldn’t be going anywhere pretentious with a $100 cover charge. Sure enough, she came through and invited me to join her plans. She was invited to a house party in downtown Los Angeles by a group of new friends she had met at the New Orleans Film Festival.
By the time I made it to the party, it was already 11:45PM. When I walked in, I immediately went and found Rory because she was the only one I knew. The first person she introduced me to was her friend, Jeff. He was pretty shy, but I was too. I remember commenting that my favorite song was playing – it was ‘This Must Be The Place’ by The Talking Heads. I felt that was pretty kismet. We talked for a few minutes, and that was it.
Around 2AM, Jeff decided to call it a night and came up to me to say bye. I left shortly after and, like a true introvert, friended him on Facebook when I got home. The next morning, I woke up to a message from him asking me out. We went on our first date just a few nights later, and the rest is history.
I think a lot about the first time I saw Jeff standing there, and how completely different my life would be if I had stayed in that night. But thankfully, I didn’t. I showed up.
I also think about the time I decided to quit my job so I could make a career out of writing, and how hard it would have been if Jeff hadn’t shown up for me emotionally and supported my decision. Even though the odds were against me, he had faith that I could make it happen.
When Jeff was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in June 2016, I was devastated. I could have chosen a number of easier routes, but only one made sense for me. I showed up – to doctors’ appointments, over-night hospital stays, and on flights across the country to see different specialists.
I showed up again on January 2017 when Jeff had an allogeneic stem cell transplant that statistics told us he probably wouldn’t survive. And I brought along with me faith and encouragement that we would beat this together. Thankfully we did, and now Jeff is in remission and doing well.
You just have to show up in life. Whether it’s to a party or to your loved one’s bedside when they get diagnosed with an almost uniformly fatal cancer. You show up, whether you’re ecstatic with joy or your heart is breaking into a million pieces. You show up for the good, the bad, and everything in between because, in the end, that’s what life is about. And hopefully when all is said and done, you will have loved and been loved in return.