2013 started with an owl.
Despite my New Year's "condition", I still remember the strange noises in the hotel parking lot. I had spent yet another December 31st with my husband, two great friends ("Zahara" and "Mary"), and an entire hotel-bar-dancefloor-DJ all to ourselves. Ten minutes after the clock struck twelve, the four of us stumbled into 2013 to be greeted by the raspy hissing and shrieks of some unknown entity lurking in the shadows.
"What is making that noise?" Mary asked.
"It's creeping me out," Zahara said.
"It's really creepy," Mary agreed.
"Iffan owl!" My husband watched in a mix of pity and confusion as his pathetic birding enthusiast wife proclaimed, "It's an owl! I know that sound! It's an owl! OWL! Shhsssh. Shssssh. Let's go see it."
The suspected owl emitted a noise that sounded something like a mix of serial killer grunt, B movie demon, and dying giraffe.
"Let's get out of here," Mary said.
After "spirited" festivities, I tend to become that annoying person who keeps repeating themselves. Pretty obnoxious. Thus, as the curtains fell on 2012, my husband lovingly dragged me away from the familiar shape perched on a tree branch as I protested that it was indeed an owl about twelve times.
Being an annoying repetitive New Year's douchebag, I convinced my tired husband to go owling with me atin the morning after we walked our friends home. We returned to the hotel, which is in walking distance from our apartment complex.
"I have to see that owl," I said. To someone who goes birding with their parents in the dead of winter (at the Ocean nonetheless) seeing an owl is a pretty big deal.
"I think it's gone," my husband said as we approached the trees where I last saw the coveted bird.
As if on cue, a shadow floated across the frozen yucky garbage pond. Despite the failed bridge construction and the empty bottles on the banks, it was still a pretty impressive sight. There's nothing like seeing an owl fly by at night, even if it is over a patch of land and water fit for a Kevin Smith movie. It's just haunting and so different than other bird sightings.
"That is pretty cool," my husband said. "I'm so glad we came back!"
After the sighting, I was nerdily obsessed with owls for a few days. I drew owls in my sketchbook and researched what the omen of an owl might mean. I found everything from a sign of "luck and wisdom" to bad luck, misfortune, and the devil himself. (Which I still don't quite understand.)
I decided to have a positive outlook and determined the owl was a good omen.
Then 2013 happened.
The year pretty much started with a very serious car problem. A very costly car problem. Which lead to financial problems. Which lead to some pretty dreary days. Which lead to some pretty dark thoughts. Which lead to a general wave of negativity and frantic busyness that encompassed most areas of my life.
I am so glad it happened. Sure, 2013 was a tough year for me, probably one of the most challenging and, at times, depressing. But my bad year is a stellar year for someone else. Other people had far, far, worse 2013's than I did. That I know for certain. Out of all the things that went wrong, there was always something right, someone supportive, or somewhere pleasant.
I joined bell choir at church, rediscovered my love of both contemporary and traditional religious music, saw a graphic novel I illustrated in print, experienced true compassion and support from people who love my sorry ass hermit self, met some great authors and illustrators at Write On Con, had the best Thanksgiving to date...in "historical" costume, attended a Circus themed party, attended a Game of Thrones party, attended a Renaissance Faire, participated in a Clue costume entourage as Mrs. Peacock, went Trick 'o Treating with the coolest kids around, got a new job that's given me a fresh perspective on some things, saw a drunk zombie lifeguard try to resuscitate a prop skeleton, attended the weddings of some great couples, attended a wedding with great people and sealife (at an aquarium), spent a week at a cabin in the best place on earth (Woodford Vermont) with my wonderful parents, experienced the joys of a freak hail storm, discovered the Leverett Peace Pagoda, finished some neato illustration projects, and celebrated my thirtieth birthday with a weather themed party thrown my fantastic, unpredictable, and always entertaining husband, who can make even the worst year pretty good. And at the very least, entertaining.
So you know what? 2013 wasn't that bad after all. Maybe the owl omen means a little bit of everything I read. (Well expect the evil satanic feather devil owl part.) Yes, it was a challenging year. But I believe I'm heading into 2014 as a wiser, stronger, more spiritual, and more grateful person. I'm still a socially awkward hermit and my twisted sense of humor remains, but heck.
Thank God for 2013. And owls.