As I shrewdly calculate my Best Films/Albums of the Year lists, I need to step back and consider what really mattered, how I spent my time when I wasn’t at the Brattle or the Kendall Square or listening to “The Naked Dutch Painter... and Other Songs” yet again. 2002 was really a difficult, cathartic, yet illuminating year for me, much more so than the past few.

I guess I’ll always remember it as the year my relationship with Scott deteriorated, and then died. It all seemed so unfathomable a year ago. Now, its inevitability still stings. The hardest thing to admit is that the one you’ve grown to love is just not the right person. After weeks (months?) of waffling, I’ve concluded that yes, I’m ready to go through it all again, to be open to falling maddeningly in love, but I haven’t met the right guy yet. Now, the hardest thing to do is remain hopeful and optimistic until whenever it happens.

But this was a year of many personal triumphs beyond getting over the devastation of a breakup. I added an extracurricular activity to my life (the Brattle) that has only wrought good things (experience, friendships, and free movies). I traveled, by myself, to glorious San Diego to see Marchann and felt the rush of being on two coasts in one day. I reconnected with a dear old friend as we visited each other in spring and autumn. I finally heard David Sedaris speak live in person. I became more outgoing than I ever have been in my life. And, as the year winds down, I’m (somewhat) seriously considering thoughts of eventually moving to a new state, taking up a new instrument, and preparing to write a novel. Not necessarily in that order.

I can’t deny that movies and music really did matter. I’d even go as far to say that they were essential in getting me through the toughest times. I found solace in the minute details of “The Royal Tenenbaums” (and in Mark Mothersbaugh’s score for the film), and joy in Sleater-Kinney’s ebullient song “Step Aside”--Punk Motown, pleading all to “shake a tail for peace and love”. I was in awe at Saint Etienne’s continual reinvention of themselves on “Finisterre”, and could barely wait to take the-road-trip-without-a-map-set-in-stone that was “Y Tu Mama Tambien” a second, third, even fourth time.

And I read. Four more John Irving epics, three Kurt Vonneguts, two Richard Russos and Salman Rushdies and a Colette biography in a pear tree, among many other books.

I took the ferry to Provincetown twice for day trips, and reveled in the town’s beauty and otherness. I rode the commuter rail to Rockport and Manchester By-The-Sea. I sampled sushi from both coasts and bought a DVD player and a translucent blue boombox.

I slept with a Latino, an Asian, and a very young Caucasian, and learned it’s better to take a cab than to accept lodging for the night from friends of a friend whose intentions are not your own.

If there is one moment from the past year I’d like to go back to, it’s October 17, about 6:30 PM Central Time. I was in Milwaukee, my hometown, trying to kill an hour before seeing Nosferatu accompanied by the Alloy Orchestra at the Oriental Theater. I’d opted to take a walk through the neighborhood, past my parents’ first apartment on Farwell and Lafayette. Lake Michigan must’ve kept pulling me in its direction, for that’s were I ended up, on the pier by McKinley Beach. The sun had set, the air was unseasonably chilly, filled with mist and fog. I looked out onto the Lake, the ocean of my youth, and the faded, hanging lights of the city off to my right. Standing there, at the railing on pier’s edge, I longed to go further, to return to that July night six years ago when, a half mile to my left, I sat on the rocks with friends and watched the moon and stars. But still, I currently felt so warm, so complete and at peace.