Monday, December 31, 2007

Dear 2007,

Wow, it’s been a whole year! I can hardly believe it. It seems like only yesterday that I was down in Santa Cruz with my friends listening to the revelry as the clock struck 2007.

I know we got off to a rocky start: horrible emotional throw-downs with on-again-off-again boyfriends can be like that. And at a Christmas party, no less! (yes, I know technically that was in 2006, but the aftereffects lingered) Well, at least we got that out of the way early, so I could spend most of the year moving on way past that dead-end relationship, like a rocket ship zipping past a minor planet.

So, it could only get better after that. We did a lot of social stuff together, shared a lot of laughter, as well as moodiness and frustration, boredom, depression, you name it. The normal stuff. Through it all, I really just tried to be aware of everything, not get judgmental about myself (or you, though that was harder.) Or I tried to be aware of the judgment, anyway.

I got relatively mobile last January when I finally got my driver’s license 20 years later than most people. That was a few weeks more than one year ago. That was a challenge, something I’ll forever consider one of my major accomplishments. Does that sound pathetic? Well, to me, that was the fruition of all the reading and studying I’d done up to that point about facing your fears. That goddamn lack of a driver’s license had plagued me for all of my adult life. I’d had nightmares for years about driving, and when I would think about driving, I’d hyperventilate. I still can’t believe I did it. And in exactly a year, I can sign up at one of those car share companies! Them and their 2-year driving history requirements (grumble.)

That brings me to relationships, of course. You helped me deepen my relationship with my best friend of 12 years, who helped me and encouraged me to learn to drive. As scary as relating could (and can) be sometimes, you, 2007 finally taught me to sit with that discomfort, to look it straight in the eye. I’m not great at it yet, but it’s like driving: I’m comfortable (somewhat) with the discomfort, and it no longer freaks me out (as much.) Or maybe I just recognize the discomfort and the instinct to freak out and don’t always give in.

There was some small-time travel: down to Santa Cruz in March for some R&R, where I got all misty-eyed when a friend-of-a-friend saw me and seemed genuinely happy to see me. Really, it affected me more than you’d think. It made me realize how I long for that recognition and genuine warmth. And it helped me realize that it’s all around me, too. I just have to practice seeing it.

There were men, lots of men. Not in the nasty way you’re thinking of it, 2007. Just dates, lots of dates; and finally I realized I just can’t do the formal dating thing anymore. As dry as my romantic life has been in this year, I just had to walk away from the internet dating, the speed dating, all of it. If I meet someone, it’s going to be because we connect in our normal lives, doing the things we do anyway.

In the summer, there was New Orleans, helping rebuild (or at least that was why I went. I still don’t know if I helped at all), I remember sitting in the steamy summer morning out in the old playing field of the elementary school where the volunteer camp was, and falling in love with the swamp that pressed up against the chain-link fence. The fluttery feeling in the stomach, the whole bit. Is it possible to fall in love with a place? Maybe I’m just weird.

Anyway, that was a challenging and strange experience, all in all. But probably one of the defining ones of my adult life, and not because of the work I did (although, heck, I can install insulation AND drywall, then mud and patch it and paint. Pretty nice for someone who used to be barely familiar with how to work a hammer!) It was more about the experience of being still in the face of my almost compulsive need to get away from the human race, in a situation where that just was not possible. Difficult would be an understatement. I think I did a pretty good job, too! But we came away from that with a new friend and some good stories.

I guess the theme of our relationship, 2007, has been connecting. Many of my relationships have deepened, some have faded away almost completely; I’ve gotten closer to my dad than I probably ever have been, which is nice, and strange. Since when are parents supposed to be normal people?! In friendships, there’s been some conflict, and I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out the difference between my neuroses and my better instincts. I guess I’ve seen that it’s okay to let some relationships die in the cradle and to concentrate my energies on connections that seem more fruitful.

Oh, and speaking of cradles, 2007, you brought a new baby boy to my family. As someone who has never wanted children, I’ve watched the growth of the two new ones in my immediate family and seen how they change the lives of the people around them. I don’t regret not having kids, and I don’t see my niece and nephew very often, but I understand better the promise that kids represent. I’m fascinated to watch how these two little new people will grow and evolve.

There’s been some death, at the end of our relationship, 2007. That’s been difficult, but the sadness has been tempered with the realization that death finds all of us, sometime. Sometimes I feel very wise, which is funny, because so often I feel like a bumbling fool. But somehow I have a very philosophical view of death, and that feels right and wise to me - it’s sad for the living, yes, but also something else. I don’t know what. Mysterious, maybe?

The deaths, strangely, have made me realize how many truly special people I’m lucky enough to have crossed paths with in my life. You know, those people who shine bright like flames of wisdom and compassion, even in the midst of their own struggles. I don’t know how else to describe it; I see them as flames, actually. But after two of them died, one after a protracted struggle, and one of them suddenly, violently, it made me think of all the others I’ve gotten to know in my life. What a blessing.

Sorry, 2007, this is getting too long. But I just wanted to say that as difficult as some things have been between us, I feel closer to something important after knowing you. Something about just being. Not struggling as much. Being okay just as myself, and letting others be okay being themselves. I know I still have a lot to learn, but as I get to know 2008, I feel confident that I’ll get closer to it.

Thanks, 2007, it’s been nice knowing you!


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