An Open Letter To 2016

I started my year way differently than how it ended. This was an unfortunate theme in my year: doing things I knew did not add value to my life and engaging in temporary pleasures to fulfil the momentary myth.  Inconsistency was no stranger to me in 2016.  However, I also learned that trial and error is a wonderful way for me to learn; and that to learn is to grow.  I have never consumed so many opposing ideas and have never sought after education this vigorously before.  A lot of people are harshing on 2016’s mellow, mostly for good reasons.  Some days are worse than others and that’s no different for years.

I am thankful for this year, however. For it spiked my drink with a dose of cold reality.  It just made me realize how much warmer my heart is.  In a sense, the coldness made me appreciate every more bit of warmth.  While atrocities enveloped the world around us, our hearts could be filled with small acts of kindness we saw throughout the day; maybe acts in which we would not have noticed before or would have taken for granted.  These random acts of love also inspired many to take it a step further.  How easy it is to share love in these simple ways, we may think, I want to do more.  I want to better the world and change the shadow of the possible future to one of light.

Although I was not constantly on the search for these beautiful reminders of human kindness every day -because, of course, we all have bad days- the signs were still there.  I think 2016 was a good reminder: we do not always get what we want.  This world can be selfish and dark and cold, so it is enormously up to us to provide the extra glimmer on our Earth.  I encourage you, my friends, to fight for this in 2017, and continue to love others, sending a message of hope through your own actions every day.

Now without further ado, a brief recap of my year…


Paul and I got his car stuck on an ice hill in the middle of the Sierras and spent hours attempting to get it back on solid ground.


I hid in Kyle’s bathroom for 20 minutes. #TurnUpOrTransfer2k16


Bernie vs Hillary memes were dank.

My boss, Amanda, left for a new job, putting me in charge of 50 plus children for the next four months.  We still miss her.  Thanks for being the best boss I’ve ever had.


I backpacked 20 miles in two days at Big Sur.


I took Sierra to Free People for her 17th birthday where she gained connections for her gorgeous photography.

Cue my New Girl obsession.  Late to the party? Maybe…

I practiced my newfound French skills on the members of Chunk! No Captain Chunk! In a surprisingly fluent conversation.

Lucas snuck me into the Citizen show where I danced with a man in a chicken suit.


My dad and I backpacked through Pinnacles National Park speaking on matters of importance such as politics, aliens, death, and the evolution of punk rock while chasing away a tireless racoon from our camp.


Hey Sam, “Don’t you think the baby would have like, a really spiritual experience?” The most used phrase of the year…

Sierra AMAZED everyone in an epic rendition of the Cinderella role in “Into the Woods.”

Slugs were kissed, bobcats were spotted, and people got lost during my fantastic Point Reyes birthday hike.


I MCed Solano’s annual Foreign Language Soiree and was honored as a polyglot for French and Spanish. I taught Jonny Craig how to hardstyle that same night.


Little Gage Matthew was welcomed into the world just in time for me to say goodbye as I began preparations for my Bolivia trip.



After my first solo overseas plane ride, a wonderful lady named Victoria saved me from a predator who insisted on driving me to my hostel at two in the morning.

Grace got her phone stolen by a street hooligan.

We hunted anacondas, fished for piranha, swam with dolphins, and played with monkeys in the Amazon.


We froze to death on a sketchy night bus to Uyuni for a tour of the salt flats. Here, we pet flamingos while four wheeling around volcanoes, abandoned train cemeteries, and crystal blue lagoons.

I saw the worst conditions of the Potosi silver mines.

Grace crashed on death road.

I visited a wild animal refuge.

I watched cholas wrestling, rode on the gondola, and visited Valle de la Luna.


I made the last-minute decision to also cycle death road before returning to the arms of my family.


I visited the Museum of Broken Relationships and finally checked hiking the Hollywood sign off my bucket list.


Danny hosted an epic Fourth of July party and impersonated Trump all night.

I returned to work after touring SoCal schools and fires began blanketing the hills of Vacaville.


I began full-time school again, started work at Abercrombie and Fitch, and Dance Gavin Dance released the first single off of the masterpiece “Mothership.”



Aaron sang me into jumping off the ledge of a waterfall.


Ashlynn stuck around like a damn homie after an extensive SF trip consisting of an awful 100+ degrees hike in Moraga with Kyle, and a show at the Gilman in which grown men dressed as old ladies screamed rock songs.

DGD came to town.


Checked Alamere falls off my bucket list with Spencer and Ashton.


Hey Ashlynn, one word: Manteca.

I stopped putting off my eye appointment, got glasses and now I can finally see!

I got matching best friend tattoos… BIG MISTAKE!

For Sloane’s 15th birthday, we role played at the Ren Faire.


I voted in a presidential election for the first time!

Barely missed marksman in my first AQT.  Thanks, Appleseed!


Forget It finally played Backseat after like 5o years.

I got VIP seats to Watsky thanks to Daniel and Josh!


I was greatly disappointed when I found out I couldn’t pick apples off the trees at Apple Hill.

I introduced Alex and Inayah to the greatness that is Sorority Noise.

T’was the anniversary of many great friendships.


I choreographed my first contemporary dance to Bring Me the Horizon’s “Drown.”

And most excitedly, I am proud to announce that I have finished my community college career with an associate degree in foreign language!  I now await letters of admission from four year schools which will be sent out in March.

I am beyond ecstatic to start writing tales of my future adventures in Colombia and Central America and I promise to keep the updates as relevant as possible as long as I have Wi-Fi.  I will see you all in 2017; a new year and a fresh slate to all who genuinely care to treat it as one.  Take this opportunity to do something grand.  Make yourself a promise that you will do something you have always wanted to; tomorrow is not promised, therefore live every day to the best of yourself.

Peace and love,

Summer Richardson

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