Thursday, January 2, 2014
Another Auld Lang Syne
Another year come and gone. I am not sentimental about New Year’s. I never have been, although, I admit, I have tried. I have tried to summon misty tears as the old year melts away into the new. I have tried to make New Year’s Eve kisses touch my heart in a romantic fiction quality way. I have tried to allow confetti and a room full of drunks to scratch the pragmatic soul I carry inside. To no avail.
Years ago I realized I was a failure at New Year’s sentimentality and I gave up, to the good of myself and others. New Year’s invokes no feelings of Auld Lang Syne, tearful declarations of love, or nostalgia in my heart. Thus, I have no grand resolutions for 2014, no mind-blowing notions on suddenly recreating myself or the world. Hell, it’s enough merely trying to keep my own little corner of the world status quo. I’m not about to start rocking the proverbial boat. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it just because the calendar happens to flip over another day. So, enough about the New Year. What about the old one?
For me it was a year of many changes; mentally, physically, and spiritually. This time last year I had just returned from the UAE and was trying to comprehend that my dad was probably not going to see the end of 2013. He didn’t. He passed away August 15th, fighting until the very end. I thought the sense of loss and grief had reached a zenith with his passing, but in the past two weeks there have been moments when the grief has welled up anew inside of me from beyond the peripheral, and blindsided me with its force. Something about the holidays takes recent grief and tailspins it into a fresh place where tears come unbidden at the most inconvenient times. I am learning to go with it. To just let it wash and roll over me. In the past few days when I have found myself sobbing, I have also found myself critically analyzing the moment. My self steps back a little and observes “So this is how grief feels as time passes? Interesting”. One detaches, I suppose, in order to come out the other side. Each day from now until August 15th will be a year anniversary of something without my dad. I have learned to expect and accept the inevitability of that.
This time last year: I was jobless having decided not to go back to the UAE after Christmas. I decided instead to stay in Georgia and try to help my mother deal with a difficult and heart ripping situation. My being jobless was a choice, and one I do not regret, as it gave me time to be with my dad. Precious time. I knew when the opportunity arose I would find another job. I trusted in my instincts, but still I had no notion that a teaching job would open up that would not only fulfill me, but challenge me as a teacher. One in which I would feel valued, appreciated, and respected. One in which my students would be entertaining, good, kind, and funny as hell. I really can’t believe that I am actually paid to hang out with ‘my” kids, but don’t tell the school board that.
However, there is a price to everything, even the good things in life, so I have had to split myself in two between the home I have with my husband and my work home. So here I am, maintaining ties to my REAL home and my work apartment home, traveling up and down highway 129 on an every other week basis, trying to remember which kitchen has salt and which needs it, in which dresser drawer my red socks are residing, in which house I left the new Klosterman book. It can be confusing and yes, lonely at times. Other times it's liberating in that after work I can sprawl decadently across the entire bed at night, listen to Leonard Cohen sing the same song over and over, be alone with the voices in my head that suggest new short stories, and write all night long if I want to without having to consider the needs of anyone else. And highway 129 leads quickly and easily back to my family, my flower garden, my study. Being 6900 miles closer to all that is familiar and loved makes the difference between my old teaching job in the UAE and my new teaching job. That and I can now understand what my principal is saying when he speaks to me. The things we take for granted never cease to amaze me. The mental, physical, and spiritual journey of 2013 is behind me. Behind you too. Now we have new ones, many as of yet undreamed, unplanned, unseen.
My birthday is just eighteen days after the New Year, and every year on January 1st I am pushed toward the acceptance of my own aging self. I will turn fifty-two soon. The thought of turning fifty-two rocks me to the tips of my toes for some reason. I am beginning to feel old finally. Just the first whisperings, but it is there. Milestone birthdays coupled with witnessing the death of someone you love will start you thinking about your own mortality, your place in the world, and what you are leaving behind to stand as a witness for the life you lived.
I am past the halfway mark of my life, unless I live to be one hundred and four, and I think that is highly doubtful. There’s not much time left to do all the things I want to do. I think I can ditch the ballet dancer dream and the bass player in a rock band fantasy. Also the five foot six inches height goal has pretty much flown by the wayside, In fact, I seem to be shrinking. No one ever said that life didn’t have a sense of humor.
Being past life’s halfway mark means that more and more I contemplate what my life has become and is becoming, what I have become and am becoming. And I am cushioned in the dawning self-universal thought that in a hundred years I probably won’t even be remembered. My existence will fade into a forgotten footnote. But nevertheless, what I do daily does impact others and my own perceptions about myself. That in itself is enough reason to get out of bed every day and try to be a better person than I was the day before. This one simple self philosophy took years to develop. Slow and almost unnoticeable like morning fog burning out over a lake. I have never been one for epiphanies. I do not matter, but I do matter. Life is a paradox in that way.
Each day takes me one day away from the person I was, and one day toward the person I am to become. And if I keep that in mind, if I wake up everyday expecting just a little more of myself, if I am kind to just one more person than I was kind to yesterday, if I help one more person in one small way, won’t that add up? And if I die tomorrow, having paid close attention to my day-to-day life and my interactions, doesn’t that mean that I will indeed leave something of myself behind, consciously remembered or not? The answer, of course, is yes. Now that, my friends, is a real resolution. To allow myself to become me. A better me.
I am older, but so is everyone else. So is the world. A year older. This blue planet we live on keeps spinning on its axis, I keep learning, I keep loving, I keep trying. I struggle to remember that no one day is ever promised and that no hug should go unappreciated. Maybe I am a little sentimental, after all..
Happy New Year.
Posted by Liti