Happy New Year! I hope the second day of 2022 is off to a wonderful start for you.
For me and mine this New Year’s Eve, the past and the present played nicely together. But the end of year didn't start out that way.
Shows were cancelling. Places were shutting down. Unknowns were swirling like the heavy cream I have not been putting in my coffee for the last 4 years, and the hard edges of missing things from long ago, like the aforementioned cream, things I thought I no longer longed for, things that were not necessarily good for me, but comforted me, loomed large and as tangible/intangible as ghosts. I could not deny that I did not want to go back, but I also could not deny that I missed it.
I tried to haiku about how you can’t go back. How literally, your cells are different. What you thought you were hurtling yourself towards literally can not contain who you become on the way to them. The feeling of no safety, of doing what you thought would lead you to x and arriving at y, of not even recognizing yourself. Know what I mean?
Into this breach, comes family.
I love my family dearly, as I am guessing you love yours. Sometimes, we have a transcendent time. Other times are a trial of endurance, of blinking hard and trying to stay in the present as the swirling presence of the past is a compelling, seductive, illusion-filled temptress that leads you forward only to dash you on the rocks of hope and expectation.
We have tried limiting the amount of time together, extending the amount of time together, and gathering at restaurants so tempers don’t flare over dishes. Some of us can no tolerate alcohol while others have upgraded their palates to truly extraordinary wines and spirits which means there is less drinking and thus fewer sparks to ignite errant tinder…but nothing eases what happens when family comes together, past meets present, and the arm wrestling commences. No one is left unscathed. All the while the ache inside your chest just grows, the love for your family somehow or other, through it all, manages to expand and intensify.
In 2021, after years of being “houseless,” my little sister got a home Wisconsin, where my family has been visiting almost religiously for at least 50 years. Robin and I were headed up there to celebrate. We were aching and eager in equal measure, but at intervals that were not necessarily in sync with each other, over the prospect of spending the next 72 hours with family.
After a stop at the grocery store, we started the final 20 mile drive on back roads thick with ice, only lightly kissed by the plow after the last snow. We had to drive slowly, eyes on the road, talking and not talking. By the time we arrived…we were in the same place physically and emotionally.
We walked in, and my sister was so happy to see us. We worked together in the kitchen getting the big New Year's Eve meal ready…and then the three of us were in the same place.
A few hours later my mom, sister and brother-in-law walked in, weary from travel but excited to be there, with their own contributions to incorporate into the meal. They joined us in the kitchen, and pretty soon…all six of us were in the same place.
And once we were all there together? Well, that was transcendent.
Dinner happened about 10 pm. The food was extra delicious. My little sister had goody bags for us, with horns and hats and glasses and my favorite – local chocolates! The conversation was especially interesting, so much so that we didn’t even turn on the TV until 11:45 pm. We had fun and took a million pictures at midnight.
And then THAT was so fun, we decided to stay up and watch more TV. As we watched the reboot of Hawaii 5-0, a particular favorite of my Mom's, the past and the present converged.
We used to watch the original Hawaii 5-0 in my parent’s bedroom as kids, my Dad in his chair, my mom lying on the bed, my little sister and I each curled up under my mother’s right and left arms. Back then, there were tussles about who got to be on which side of my mom. But then as now, decades later, the best part wasn't the show or who was sitting where. The best part was being together.
We were together.
So, despite how it started, this New Year’s Eve the past and the present played nicely. What a gift! That it came on the last breath of 2021 fills me with wonder about what the coming years might bring. I hope that this sense of wonder continues throughout 2022, and that ALL that you’d like to have happen, happens for you.
Some people say it all boils down to your intentions. I am still mulling over my New Years intentions, as we head over to the 2022 Polar Bear Plunge. Maybe we’ll talk about that next week.
Meanwhile, how’s it going with you? Drop me a line whenever you feel like it, and let me know. I love hearing from you.