Pajamas. A cup of coffee. A book. Sunlight filtering in through the window. Really no different from any other morning, except maybe the lingering a little longer in pajamas.
Yesterday a late afternoon movie, Philomena. Dinner with friends, Mexican, after which we go back to their house, some champagne and caviar. Really no different from any night out with friends, except maybe the champagne and caviar. And echoes of Dick Clark, his New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, this year’s host Ryan Seacrest. A trip down Music Memory Lane, a clip of Tina Turner (“Proud Mary”), one of the 30 Greatest Women in Music being celebrated. It’s that time of year—magazines online and in print giving us their idea of the greatest; we get to see if they match up with our own.
My husband jokes about my wanting to celebrate on December 30th, get it over with a day early. I’m just not feeling it this year—the hoopla, the swell of celebration, the need to mark the oh-so-significant cusp, one year giving way to another. Take stock of what’s passed, look ahead to what we hope is in the stars. More often than not, I’m supercharged at the notion of a fresh start. This year not so much.
Every day is different, every year is different. And every moment contains bits of past/present/future. The past lives in our bones, any trigger can set off the reminder of a joy long gone or tie us up in a knot of sorrow. The present—that place I would reside 24/7 if I could—lives with, and within, each breath, the cup it sees never half-full or half-empty, always a little of both. The future lives outside of us, forever uncertain. To be comfortable with uncertainty is to recognize how little is in our control. Nothing like the last week of the year to encompass it all—the longing for what no longer is, the wish to be at ease with what is, anxieties that go hand in hand with what may (or may not) be coming.
We leave to go home before midnight, cozy up in bed. “Gotta watch the ball drop,” says my husband, switching from station to station, snippets of movies, until the last minutes of 2013, a million people in Times Square on the screen, some in New York just for this reason, to be in the thick of it all when a glittering ball drops. I marvel at the spectacle of it. I kiss my husband.
One New Year’s Eve, when I was young and single and lived in the city, I decided I wanted to be riding the subway at the stroke of midnight. I wanted to be with people not making a celebration of it all, just doing whatever it is that they might be doing any midnight of the week. Just for a change of pace.
Change of pace is good. This year I got to spend my birthday in sunny California. There was something novel about getting on a plane when I was sixty-three and landing just after midnight, when I turned sixty-four. My daughter did not have to wait to give me my presents, a Great Gatsby clutch and a CD. A token gift, from a recent visit to Napa with her boyfriend would come a few days later: a purse ‘hook’ reminiscent of the one Barbra Streisand uses in The Guilt Trip. Something every woman needs.
On Christmas Day she sends me a video, evidence of the last bit of holiday shopping. Who wouldn’t be amused at watching two small dogs, a pug puppy and a mixed breed, wagging their tails with joy over new toys? Turns out we’re both dog-sitting this week—she for her boyfriend’s dogs, me for my brother’s family dog. Ginger is a sweet dog and does her best to adjust, even if she’s old and missing her fam. She knows me well, and, I like to think, knows I’m doing my best, too. You learn a lot watching an elderly dog try to find her comfort zones.
Time to get out of the P.J.’s, go take a walk. The air is crisp, no wind, no bite, temperature in the low thirties. I stop at the lake, not yet frozen over. The longer I fixate on the mottled surface ice, the more it appears to be moving.