January 1, 2010

A Whole New Year

I struggle to stay in the moment. I tend to want to look backward (with regret) or forward (with anxiety) instead of enjoying where I am, and I'm really working on that. At the same time there's a lot of reminiscing happening around here-- everyone talking about where they were at the turn of the last decade. The first time someone asked me that question my immediate response was, "I don't really want to think about it," and yet here I am thinking about it. Ten years ago I was at the beginning of an end, and remembering makes me a little nauseous.

At the close of 1999 I had just begun the long separation from Sweet P's dad. We still lived together because neither of us had anywhere else to go. He slept on the couch. My dad visited for Christmas, and we spent it together, Sweet P-- who was just around the corner from turning three-- her dad, my dad, and me. It went well, surprisingly, except I burned the roast beast.

Then it was New Year's Eve, and Sweet P's dad and I were alone again. We didn't have plans-- together or separately-- or a sitter. We may have silently watched the count down. Then he announced that he was going out, so I stood at the third-story apartment window, watched him ride his bicycle away under the streetlights.

It was Y2K, and there were all of those wretched predictions, scare and hubbub. Everything would shut down and the whole globe would be thrown into disaster, they said. I went to bed alone wondering what the next day would bring.

The phone rang at 3 a.m. It was Sweet P's dad, and he was stuck in San Francisco. He had taken his bike into the city on BART only to discover they wouldn't let him bring it back across the bay. He was cold, calling from a gas station, asking me to pick him up.

I woke Sweet P out of her deep slumber, bundled, buckled her and drove through the dark and quiet city. I didn't know if the stoplights would work, if the world was in chaos, if there were nearby riots and looting. I was still a fairly small-town girl, and there were always too many highways.

I think about that drive sometimes-- as if it's a movie I watched-- and how much it represented my entrance into the new decade: not knowing where I was going or how I would find my way, dreading the arrival, being angry and afraid and feeling alone. I wasn't alone, though. There was a wise little soul asleep in the backseat.

Sweet P and I found our way that night without mapquest, GPS, or cell phone. It's nearly miraculous when I look back on it. There were no riots-- that I saw, anyway-- the streetlights worked properly and the sun came up in the morning. Sweet P's dad learned some things on his adventure, too.

Every day for the next ten years the sun came up, and from this vantage point I'm tempted to look back and shout to Sweet P, "We made it!" Still, I know this house in The Woods-- where Sweet P is on the cusp of becoming a teen, learning to love her bonus dad and little brother, and where I am learning the waltz of marriage and how to love the snow-- is only a brief respite.

In another ten years we'll look back on this place from somewhere else-- perhaps only metaphorically speaking, perhaps not. I know where I'd like us to go from here, but I'm not fool enough to say that's where we'll be.

In any case, in 2019 this is what I'll remember: Dec. 31, 2009 I sipped a white Russian with my girlfriends while Sweet P and her cousin played Legos with the little guys in another room, and the husbands in the basement chatted about furnaces. Later we tromped through the snow in downtown Orange, stomped our feet with a fiddler in the town hall, ate some pizza, chased Buckaroo and his buddies around ice sculptures lit up in the dark by twinkle lights, and nodded off on Sparkle Mama's couch. R drove us home; we rang in the New Year on our lake in The Woods, and I was happy.

Until that reminiscing, I'll continue trying to live the moment. It's my New Year's resolution.


Suzanne said...

I love you and your beautiful words.

Anonymous said...

Your memory is so vivid... I struggle to remember what happened last week. 1999 was a big year for me but not where matters of the heart were concerned. Left my job, entered college and took a part-time job and did not know the person who was making all these changes in her life. Guess what,
"I made it" We are surviors!!! Love, Mom