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Column: So long 2013: Thank you for all lessons you offered

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Dear 2014,

I don’t know why, but it seems you’ve decided to come rather quickly.

Your sister year, 2013, seems antsy to meet you at that midnight rendezvous where all of the clocks in this part of the world change and people give their New Year’s kisses and jot down New Year’s resolutions, such as losing weight and having better marriages.

Meanwhile, the other half of the world patiently awaits to enter 2014 so they can write down their New Year’s resolution and give their New Year’s kisses.

All I can think about is trying to remember my New Year’s resolution from last year, and no matter how hard I try ... I can’t. Perhaps it was something small and meaningless, such as losing weight or clearing my acne.

But a year ago, I was a different person. Better or worse, I’m not sure yet ... but different nonetheless. A year ago from today, I had just barely filled out an application to live abroad for a year. Life was simple, easy and comfortable.

A year later, I am living a totally different life in Kelantan, Malaysia. I can hear each small individual, pittering-pattering splash of rain on the concrete sidewalk and roof of my Malaysian home. My Malaysian mother and sisters are speaking about family matters in a language I’m familiar with, but with a dialect I strain anxiously to understand.

Outside, I can hear the bellowing echoes of the Muslim azam from the surrounding mosques around my house.

These captivating echoes have become a routine part of my day.

I am watching a Thai movie with Malay subtitles, trying to piece the two languages together while translating it to English in my mind.

A year ago, I had never even watched a movie with subtitles. A year ago, my biggest worry was who was I going to spend my New Year’s Eve with.

If I turn slightly to the right and look out my window, I can see neighboring homes just being pelted by Malaysia’s rainy season. I can see the chickens and the stray cats coexisting, sharing the comfort found underneath an old chair as it shelters them from these rainy evenings.

Maybe the reader reading this doesn’t really care to know about the chickens or the cats or my previous lack of subtitled movies.

A year ago, I probably wouldn’t care about the chickens and cats sharing a chair, either.

But 2013 has given me some pieces of knowledge, and 2014, I hope you can help me make sense of everything 2013 has given me. I know that the chicken and the cats can coexist simply, but how? And why?

This past year easily might have been one of the most difficult years of my life thus far. The hardships were partially self-inflicted and partially otherwise. Those hardships will be filed away in the storage cabinet labeled “Thank you 2013” to be used again in the future.

Soon, I will begin a new filing cabinet just below the others, and I will label it, “Thank you 2014” in the hopes that you can help me make sense of all of this new knowledge and insight. Because one of the biggest things that 2013 has taught me is that having knowledge is useless if you don’t know how to use it the right way.

So 2013, even though you were one of the most awkward years of my life, thanks for the smiles, the hardships, the new beginnings, the new endings and the Thai movies.

And 2014, I welcome you with open arms in awe of the prosperous, terrifying, spiritual and hard journey you have prepared for me.

Happy New Year everyone.

Selamat Tahun Baru semua.

Sincerely, Kaley

Courtlyn “Kaley” Heaberlin is a 16-year-old Whiteland Community High School student who traveled in July to Malaysia for a 10-month cultural immersion program. Her occasional column is excerpted from her blog. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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