An Open Letter to 2016

Author: Nicole Alvarez

By Nicole Alvarez

I was driving to work and I was sitting in traffic with the windows down listening to Stryker on KROQ and just breathing in L.A.’s version of winter and trying to wrap my head around the collective sadness in the air. F—, we lost Princess Leia! The thought that popped into my head was, “I don’t want to die, I don’t ever want to die,” in fact, I’ve never been thirstier for life and all of this death scared me. For the first time ever, the thought that this is all just temporary shook me to my core. Right then and there it hit me. 2016 has brought to surface the fragility of time. Our mortality has never been more evident.

Gone are these people that we grew up idolizing and imagining to be. Gone are these flawed eccentrics that made it ok to be who we were, that fought demons and made art; gone are the brave trailblazers that defined their own realities, that made it alright for boys who like to wear eyeliner to rock ambiguity with pride and for girls to be the princess that led the war and kicked its ass. We lost some people that were put on a universal pedestal and in some form or another, they were mocked, humiliated, sidelined, or defeated in the public eye at some point and we were there. We saw them rise, we saw them fall, and we saw them get back up. They gave us their secrets, their magic and their vulnerability. They gave us the music and the movies that made us want to be heroes. They created, competed, and performed for us. They gave us hope, vision, drive, a home, and a connection to one another. Show me a Bowie fan and therein lies a kindred spirit. Show me the girl that never wanted to be Cinderella whose only idea of a princess was Princess Leia and there is a girl I can hang with.

These artists helped us find our people and they helped us find ourselves. Carrie Fisher, David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, Glenn Frey, Sir George Martin, Gene Wilder, Merle Haggard, Leon Russell, Alan Rickman. Dave Mirra, Harper Lee, Phife Dawg, José Fernández, John Glen, Muhammed Ali… Sh–, even Chyna had the balls to be something that no one ever understood and it eventually destroyed her, because yes, Chyna also died this year, but not before she was the first woman to participate in the Royal Rumble as well as the number one contender to the WWF Championship. We even lost the guy that invented the Red Solo Cup, Robert Hulseman, whose very existence was a symbol of drinking ALL of the things and having ALL of the fun at ALL of the parties.

All of these people that 2016 claimed had one thing in common: when it was their time, they burned like the sun. They shined a light so f—ing bright that losing them has created a cosmic disturbance of epic proportions and people are pissed. You are pissed. Everyone is pissed. But guess what, you are alive. You are feeling things and you are alive. You survived 2016 and its merciless wrath. I sympathize with the people who lost mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters, husbands, wives, kids, friends, animals, jobs…those things never stop happening. Those losses never take a year off. Every year is the “worst year ever” for someone. When do we stop blaming and bitching and actually use our voices to empower gratitude, kindness, and sympathy in others? When do we start using social media to help each other walk in a better direction? When does the word hate lose? When does that die? When do we champion the higher perspective?

Every year will be a year of shock and loss and at the end of every year most of you will tell said year to fuck off and most of you will be like, “ugh, I can’t wait until this year ends…” and so it repeats over and over and over….Yes, 2016 was chock-full of celebrity deaths and political bulls— and personal tragedy and it sucked, it plain sucked, but, here’s the bottom line: we won, we lost, we laughed, we suffered, WE SURVIVED. So what do you do? You realize that it’s all a lesson, it is all temporary, we are all on borrowed time, no guarantees and that the only thing to do is live in the moment, in the present, in the now and that to be alive at the very second you are is a gift and a blessing and that the fragility of time will surface eventually and it will show us what we don’t want to accept, but you live and you love and that is your duty. Now we are all more awake than ever. We live in a world that elected Donald Trump as president, something no one thought for one second could ever feasibly happen, and yet it did and now everyone is paying attention. Darth Cheeto is our fucking president elect. Que??? Do you even know who the person next to you really is or do you “think” you know them through their snaps and IG photos?

Some crazy s— has gone down this year and I am not about to tempt fate by cursing into the wind and antagonizing 2017. If we lose sight of all gratitude and light, the universe will show us what it’s really made of and lay its steel toed boot on our chest until every breath we take feels like razors trying to find their way through our flesh. No thank you. It seems so unfair though, so many good ones gone and so many s— bags still walking around Earth stinking up the joint. As a Cuban-American, I thought the passing of Fidel Castro meant that maybe; just maybe, someone was on our side, nope, not so much. Some people will always have it easy; some people will always have it hard. There’s no telling which side you will land on. So I’ll tell you what, instead of bitching about 2016, let’s just dance around the fire as it burns away, but let’s dance. 2017 is the year we shine. We have no choice.

So, if you are near my circle of influence and even if I have to drag you by the hair, we are going to burn bright like the f—ing sun and we are going to take all the lessons we just learned the hard way and re-invent the wheel. I expect more loss and more tragedy and so many more challenges both seen and unseen, but I’m also welcoming more love, laughs, epicness and beauty.

Although you tried 2016, you did not break us. Thank you for all of the things people are forgetting you also gave us. Me personally, I can’t help but love you because you gave me something magical. I look forward to looking back with wisdom and in the meantime, while I wait, I’ll be right here living the best I can, grateful and faithful. At 12 midnight on December 31st, look up at the heavens, the writing’s in the sky. We’re still here. Make it count.


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