The New Year used to mean very little to me, another day on the calendar. One more step towards the Great Oblivion when I could finally rest without the burden that addicts know too well.

It was Amateur Hour, the day when the whole world acted like I did the other 364 days of the year.

Most of the time, I stayed home, got drunk (one of the few times I would get drunk at home), and passed out while watching The Magnificent Seven.

Just a hair past three New Year’s Eves ago, I sobered up and the day took on a new meaning for me. As it has for so many others, the day became a benchmark in my life, a time when I could take the very long, very personal inventory of my life so that I might live with purpose.

It is, I suppose, very human to do so.

As with so many other parts of my sober life, I have taken that very basic human tick and turned it into a guidepost by which I live my life.

***

Each December, as the year winds down, I set about creating a singular goal for myself for the next year. The goal isn’t a resolution; those are too easily tossed aside. Instead, I create a mantra to help me focus my life on what I believe is most important.

Those mantras manifest in very simple statements such as The Year of Friends and The Year of Health (or even the sub-goal The Summer of Run). I’d declared 2011 at The Year Everything Changes.

I need those or else I’m too easily pulled from my path. I’d like to blame this on my alcoholism; in reality, this is one of those character defects that we talk about so often in The Program.

But I know this about myself and I want to stay sober so I stay home on New Year’s Eve and lay out my plan for the year.

Two months ago, I’d decided that 2012 would be The Year of the Heart, a time when I spoke what was in my heart no matter the consequences. I jumped the gun on that just a little bit, fell in love, and got engaged.

So I pitched that idea aside, and trade up for my 2012 mantra: The Year of Us.

She’s helped me with revision.

***

On January 1, 2013, my beautiful fiancée and I will tie the knot in Indianapolis.

In many ways, it’s just around the corner; in most ways, it’s forever away. When you are ready to declare your partnership to the world, every day is a day too long to wait.

When I told her why I wanted to wait until January 1, she never hesitated: “That’s when we have to do it.”

We live in a world of “yes, and,” which makes all the difference.

For the next 366 days (Leap Year. Really?), our lives will be chaotic as we try to consolidate into one house, plan a wedding, prepare for a family (because we’re having kids!), and settle into our new life together.

Yet every moment we have together is better than the last because this we have decided to put the outside world on hold just a little bit so that we can prepare to have the type of life for which we’ve been searching.

Of course, The Year of Us won’t really be relaxing because neither of us can sit still. We’ve already put more than 2,000 miles on the car in less than 2 months as we’ve traveled to see friends and family (and that doesn’t even count the 130 mile round-trip between Muncie and Indianapolis).

Without meaning, The Year of Us is already melding with The Year of Health (I’ve started dragging her to the gym), The Year of Friends (hello Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Cleveland; Nashville and St. Louis are next), and who knows what else.

With her, there is exponential.

***

I’m sitting in my living room writing while she finishes up work for the evening. The clock just clicked past midnight, and we’re about ready to stop for the first time since 10 am.

Still, we managed to cook two meals in the kitchen together, work in a run at the gym, and have a meaningful conversation about life within the course of our back-to-school chaos.

Two years ago, I set about re-connecting with my friends. Last year, I set about getting healthy.

This year, it’s about love.

I’m told that’s all you need.