The turn of a year, birthdays, anniversaries – all occasions that mark beginnings remind me of Sandra Cisneros’s One Last Poem For Richard:
It’s Christmas Eve again
and old ghosts come back home…
Okay, we didn’t work, and all
memories to tell you the truth aren’t good.
But sometimes there were good times.
As each beginning hurtles towards its inevitable end, the specters of real life – of good times and bad – arise and await in the wings. Each beginning is a bugle call to these ghosts of lives past.
Well, it’s January again, and all memories to tell you the truth aren’t good. But sometimes there were good times.
The year began as most years do: with the best of intentions and the worst of hangovers.
2016 was not particularly kind: Christmas, with the husband’s family was an unmitigated disaster (I will spare you and myself a recount of the gory details), I kissed nobody on the eve of the new year (does the family dog count?), and January 1st began with an early morning hike (have you ever had the joy of hiking 20 miles hungover?).
Still, I meant to make the most of this new year. I made New Year’s resolutions: run more, read more, travel more.
The profoundly pedestrian and plaintive prelude to the year aside, I kept the resolutions; I ran about 300 miles in 2017, I read almost all I had hoped to read, and I found myself in many new places and some old ones.
But resolutions are easy – you either did or you didn’t. It’s harder to quantify the rest.
Arguments with loved ones that leave both parties just a little more wary of one another, social interactions that leave one feeling tiny and exhausted, the deep sadness inherent to growing up, the long silences that spring up in relationships.
No rubric exists when it comes to the daily drama of human existence.
Nevertheless, 2017 was not a zero-sum game. There were lows, terrible mean reds, but I felt somehow more in charge this year, somehow more like myself without knowing fully what that self signifies.
Now, I find myself looking ahead (already behind on my new New Year’s resolutions) to 2018.
Cisneros says to the specter of Richard:
There should be stars for great wars
like ours. There ought to be awards
and plenty of champagne for the survivors.
Fellow survivors: my heartiest congratulations.