Not much happened over the past year, to be honest.
I traveled to Washington, Colorado, Missouri, California, Wyoming, Colorado again, Iceland, Delaware, Michigan, Oregon, Utah, and Pennsylvania. I completed milestones in my first full year of my job – completing New Hire, RAC, issued my first severe thunderstorm warnings, worked through my first tornado outbreaks, and got my first big promotion. I watched another Michigan Big Ten football championship, walked Scipio thousands of miles, camped among some of the oldest mountains in North America, saw tornadoes on some of the most pristine, unbroken tracts of Great Plains Prairie remaining, and made over $30,000 betting on sports. Oh, and I got married.
But other than that, it was a pretty quiet 2023.
All jokes aside, 2023 will certainly have a strong case for “best year of my life” when the time comes on my deathbed to make a blog post of my favorite 10 years. Any year that you get married to the love of your life should have a strong case for that. 2023 was sort of an inflection point, the end of the gradual curve everyone is supposed to enter when they’re 16 as a kid and exit when they’re 26 as a full-ass adult. Getting your own healthcare: yup. Figuring out how to pay for your car, and the insurance, and all those other bills: yup. Having a dog who relies on you exclusively to keep it alive: kinda wild, but yup. But for as easy as it would be to look back on 2023 as “The Year I Became a Full-Fledged Adult”, that also ignores so, so many fun subplots. Eating an entire ice cream flight with 20 scoops in it in Seattle; taking ATVs up the muddiest of mountain “roads” until they basically foundered in the middle of the path; climbing a freaking glacier – 2023 was about enjoying life as though I was a kid every bit as much as it was about becoming an adult.
I’m not someone who likes to sit still. Never have been, never will be. It’s a combination of a well-developed sense of self-awareness, existential dread, and a desire to make each moment the Best Moment Ever that keeps me going long into the night, even if we have to drive until 3:00 am to get to Rehoboth Beach for the mere 48 hours we’re going to stay there before returning to Norman for work. This restlessness is part of why the pandemic came close to breaking me: here I was, at age 22, in what was supposed to be my “prime”, spending my days watching meteorology classes on Zoom then watching reruns on Netflix in the evening. It’s part of what drives me to this day, even as I understand that the “prime” isn’t so much a window as it is a spectrum: sure, I’m not going to as many wild parties as I was at 20, and sure, I don’t have the schedule flexibility I did at 23, but at 26 I have the money and the ability to do so much more than I used to. And that’s a pretty cool realization for someone who dreaded missing the good old days.
With that said, 2023 will undoubtedly be remembered as “the good old days”. I’m so thankful for all of the memories that I got to share with so many people. With Sam and Tatiana, who I golfed with almost weekly between February and June. With Michael and Irene and Chris and Chanelle in Seattle. With Stephen, who took insane adventures with me to the Bay Area and then to Jackson Hole in back-to-back weekends. With all of my coworkers, who weathered everything from a tornado nearly hitting our office to… a tornado nearly hitting our office. With James, who’s spent so many nights in our guest room that Scipio howls pitifully when he leaves.
But mostly, 2023 was about joining two separate lives into one with Elizabeth. It’s so cliche to say that I’m so lucky, and yet: I’m so lucky. I could never possibly find the words to describe the positive impact Elizabeth has had on my life. We could have never possibly been married without her nearly single-handedly carrying the load of planning an entire wedding from 1,000 miles away from the venue. If there’s never another test of her internal strength, she’s already done enough to prove herself as one of the strongest people I know. To do all that, while excelling her job so much that she basically left the state of Oklahoma with no choice but to hire her full-time (after landing another job with an interview literally while we were driving to our wedding) – there’s only cliches left to say about her. I’m so lucky.
There’s so many different ways to say that I’m grateful for the year 2023, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that it wasn’t always amazing. There were job frustrations. There were weeks of midnight shifts where it felt like I disappeared off the face of the Earth. There were times when wedding planning snapped one of the two of us to the very limits. And there were times when I felt – of all the worst things a Nolan can feel – bored.
How can I improve on 2023? More time spent working out, for one. I’ve gotten a little bit too sedentary in my job, and I think Scipio needs the exercise almost as much as I do. Spend less time on my phone, if possible. Betting is a pretty intensive process on the phone, but do I need to track them as much once their placed? “Bet and forget” may be an aspirational goal, but it’s an aspirational goal to shoot for. Get back into rock climbing. I’ve let that hobby drop off a bit too much. And try to host more events at our house. The tailgate we had in September was so fun, but it was the exception instead of the rule.
But if 2024 is just more of 2023, then I’ll be so lucky for it.