Here is something that my dear friend Lauren said about her plan for the new year:
I thought you might like this, because I liked it, and generally we like the same things, though we don't always tell each other that. The things we both like--what this man said, that quote I pasted to the bathroom mirror, this joke--we discover them like secrets accidentally revealed. You quote the quote from the mirror one month later and I'm stunned to know what you remember, because I remember it too. Our shared life living below the surface.
But I digress. What I have not much revealed but what I guess you may know is: this last year was often a very damn hard and difficult year. I was elated at the turn of the clock to midnight (or hopped up on sugar from the cookies and the pink wine I shared with my mother and my youngest sister, sliding about the wood floor of the kitchen in our winter socks and pajamas, clanging pots and pans in the frozen air over the dog's bark, calling for the darkness to awaken).
The clock turned. And later, searching for sleep, I could hear my father's voice down the hallway in the house where I grew. He was talking to my mother. Then he began to sing an old cowboy song. Third boxcar, midnight train. Destination, Bangor, Maine. My mother laughs her laugh, and I realize what it is that I've been wanting to say:
The difficult years are also often the most worthwhile ones, in the end.
Think of everything you've born. It was actual weight; it had gravity and it was heavy on your heart. It made a carving of your soul, so much so that when you greet the day the greeting is entirely new because the world is somehow new. Without the difficult years, it's easy to remain the same. Before, I thought that staying the same was what I wanted--it was safe, after all. Now, I tell you: I want to be carved.
For it strikes me that the carving makes space for what is most important: pink wine and winter socks and my mother's face. My father singing his beloved a cowboy song, thirty-one years after they first found one another. It's true: nothing else matters but this. Sometimes it takes a beating to make us see.
I'll sign off now, and promise to write you again soon. There's much to do: boxes to unpack in the new house that is mine, a dog to walk up a snowy mountain, plans to be made for the work to be done that is good for the soul, a new year to begin.
Thanks for reading.