Monday, January 16, 2017

Ring out Wild Bells

I’ve never been good with goodbyes. It seems to be something I resist, or at least something that is foreign to my essence. I think I said too many goodbyes in 2016.

Now, before I jump into yet another wail against 2016, I want to preface by admitting that a lot of beautiful and lovely experiences happened in 2016. It began pretty hopeful, as I recall. I have always liked the number 16 and I thought that maybe this year would be my lucky one. For a while, it really did feel lucky. I received the teaching internship I’d always wanted, I received good news after good news regarding funding for my upcoming trip to London, and everything seemed to be moving in my favor.

London was lovely as always. I found treasures in theatres, archives, and gardens. I went back to the Lake District where my soul expands and every doubt flies away on the wind. I hiked Arthur’s seat in full yellow bloom. I was in my absolute favorite place with one of my absolute favorite people. My thesis seemed to be taking shape, the prospectus would pass easily, and I felt confident in what I did and who I was becoming.

Like I said, there were many wonderful experiences in 2016. I went camping, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, running, dancing, and sledding. I wrote a lot and read a lot. But, the truth is, 2016 left me rubbed raw.

In July of 2016, I said goodbye to my Dad, or more accurately, I didn’t say goodbye. After my father was diagnosed with ALS, I always made an effort to tell him “goodbye” and “I love you” when I left the house. Though, on the 4th of July, I was so caught up in getting everyone out the door on time to see the fireworks, and my father was in such a state of sleepy unconsciousness, that I don’t think I even said goodbye. I don’t feel unsettled about that though. I know my Dad knew how much I loved him, and I’d made sure to tell him everything I wanted to long before that fateful night. I guess it’s ok because as I mentioned, I’m not very good with goodbyes anyhow.

A few months later, I said goodbye to the only guy I’ve ever truly loved. While I didn’t feel the absence of my father too often, I felt this absence unceasingly. I discovered that both of these men were anchors, pillars, and constants in my life. Having them there everyday and then suddenly gone the next was unsettling and unsteadying. Everything felt wrong and completely unexplainable. Finally, I watched the world turn upside down on November 8th  and the continuing slaughter in Syria, and realized I’d said goodbye to something / someone else, another anchor—my childlike self.

I used to radiate hopefulness, optimism, exuberance, wonder, trust, and a belief that everything was going to be ok. I lived by the mantra that humans were inherently good and that when you try your best to be your best, your efforts are met with abundant miracles and blessings. I laughed a lot. I was playful. I got excited about little things like chalk drawings and peaches on trees. 2016 forced me to grow up.

I don’t mean to sound so dramatic. Frankly, dramatic requires far more energy and vigor than I feel capable of right now. It’s just that I’ve never felt so rocked by a year before, and I’m trying to figure that out. So, here I am, saying goodbye to 2016 and a hesitant hello to 2017.

2017, I’m coming to you unsteady and unraveled. I’d like to say I’m coming with an open heart, but last time I went to chat with my heart, I discovered that she’s retreated, leaving a “closed for repairs” sign up on the door. (I don’t blame her for resenting me. I coaxed her to risk sticking her neck out so far and so vulnerably. So, if she just wants to lay on the floor and trace her fingers through the carpet for a while, I don’t blame her). I’ll just wait and plow forward into this year of unknown and uncertainty with or without her. Still, here’s hoping for a new year of lovely, beautiful experiences and growing up. 2017, be good to us please.