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12.31.23

I've never really liked New Year's despite having fond memories of many, especially when I was younger.  I don't know why- perhaps because it feels like standing on the edge of a temporal precipice, from which I can see all the cliffs I wish I'd scaled earlier, and below which lies misty uncertainty. I just hope there's not too many rocks at the bottom.


I don't understand why New Year's Eve feels so pivotal, when we can individually choose to change things at any time, or, conversely, an unexpected event can strike and permanently alter our lives for us in a matter of seconds. After all, my own was irrevocably reshaped in the course of a single night. Life is always unpredictable, so logically, the advent of another January shouldn't mean anything significant, yet I still find myself getting caught up in the strange, anxious giddiness the comes with the last hours December 31st. There's something hopeful about new beginnings. And yet, as I sit here waiting for the clock to strike 12, I can't help but feel a strange, conflicting feeling settle over me again like a wet cloak.


Time and I have never gotten along well. For most of my life, Time has felt restricting, like it's left me stuck behind a slow walker on my way to class and they're somehow managing to take up the entire sidewalk.  Other days, it feels like it's running past me like a squirrel on crack, and I resent missing out on so many years of my life. I desperately wish I could persuade Time to undo itself and give me a chance at a do-over with an alternate and safer path, but I also know that by doing so, I would probably end up erasing more of myself than any monsters ever could. I also probably wouldn't have most of the wonderful people in my life that I do now. Still, I think most of us wish we could do some things differently, and I doubt anyone ever feels like Time is a constant- we're always either chasing it or wishing it would go by faster. Personally, I wish Time would just stop for a bit and maybe sit with me for a cup of tea so that we could both just rest and talk for a bit, the way It seems to when you're still in that midway point between waking and dreaming. I'm tired, and I want to catch my breath before leaping back into the fray. And yet, once again here I am, writing a list of resolutions and goals while decluttering my living space so that 2024 starts off on the right foot.


It's amazing how paralyzing clutter can be, especially given that I tend to gravitate towards maximalism and busy looking interiors, but I think the difference with the latter is it's more organized and clearly intentional. Messy is different, and very, very stressful. I've been wanting to paint for a while, but my apartment has been so chaotic that I can't focus, and so I've spent most of the day going through clothes and boxes of miscelaneous things in the closet.


In one, I found an old shoebox full of various envelopes and papers. The first one almost made me recoil as I slid it open and a small pile of photographs tumbled into my hand. A familiar feeling washed over me at the sight of the bright letterman jacket and I felt a burning coal of rage form in the pit of my stomach, though not for myself this time, but rather for the unexpected friend I had made, now that I knew the full context of what was happening at the time. I'm glad that things in that friend's life are going well now, because it gives me hope for other people like us. There was also a plastic bag containing a stack of letters postmarked from various states, a folded, green-lined sheet of graph paper with a stick figure cat drawn on it, various notes and doodles, and an ink-marked draft of a thank-you letter I remember editing for someone freshman year.


The shoe box also contained notes from a close friend and former roommate (which made me cry), A pink card from Tami (which made me cry more), folded recipes (one for Miriam's chicken curry, another for a pasta salad I liked at Washakie, which they literally ripped out of a book for me), a folded hospital invoice, a letter from Joe, and a rumpled card from my Aunt in Montana. The card had a colorful moose on it and contained the only pictures I've ever seen of my dad as a kid. His face was square and angular, and seemed far too masculine for a little boy that age, almost to the point of being cartoony. At the bottom of the box, I also found an invoice for one of the payments for my study abroad and a letter from Bendie, one of my mom's friends. We spent a lot of time with her kids while we were small, and while I was in college, she sent me a pretty rainbow scarf and photographs of us all from when we were little. My brother, knobby-kneed and wiry at the time, stands out like a befreckled-birthday candle with his bright red hair, whereas I look like a cynical chipmunk. I had definite resting bitch face even as a little girl and it seems I didn't smile much. That might just have been because I hated cameras.


Maybe I'll send these pictures to my mom. She doesn't have very many photos of us as children, and I now feel I understand the value of them. You can't stop Time, but you can preserve little pieces of it, and pictures gives parents something tangible they can hold onto. 


I don't know what mountains I'll have to climb in the coming year, but I am very grateful for all of the wonderful people I have met along the way. Wishing them all the very best in 2024 and may Time not leave any of them wishing for easier trails in the coming year.

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