New Year's Eve, 2021
I am extraordinarily sleepy. I have had a big, beautiful meal; I'm drinking a gift; in another room Stu's playing music from the 1980s that's indistinguishable from the act of dancing. It's very nice, and very relaxing.
It's relaxing, too, because I spent the last few hours cleaning. I did two loads of laundry (up to and including folding it AND putting it away), I changed the bedsheets, I emptied the bins and the recycling, I scrubbed down the bathroom, I cleared the dining room table. I've felt absolutely flattened in the wake of my booster shot on Tuesday, but today I had stirrings of energy again, and cleaning was what I wanted to do – to make space for tomorrow, for the rituals of the new year, for the tradition of not cleaning on the day itself.
It feels, too, like making room for the hope of people visiting – of guests, eventually, again. Of remembering how to share space and food and stories and breath.
I haven't the wherewithal tonight to look back on the past year in terms of work, or achievements, or struggles. I'll save that for another letter – I did a lot of new things, and I'm very proud of them. But earlier this evening as we folded laundry together and talked about the coming year and the past one, I realized I felt differently than I usually do on New Year's Eve.
Most pre-pandemic year-hinges I'd feel the urge to plan, to rally, to improve myself, to have goals and hopes and dreams, to reflect on the past year with an eye towards doing better. But this year, I feel like I did everything I could. Whatever came of it, I don't think I could have done anything better, or differently. I didn't have the capacity. I got through it, and there were good things, and bitterly disappointing things, and utterly terrible things, and throughout all of them I feel like I acquitted myself as well I could. Whatever I did was what I was capable of doing – and my household was kept safe and warm and fed, and I wrote some new things, and I taught a great many students, and I got back into running (and out of it, and into it, and out of it – and I'll get back into it again), and I made real progress towards one single good form pull-up. (I've gotten further than that last post, even!)
Looking forward, though, what do I want? I want to write more fiction and poetry, and make immutable space for them in my days and weeks and routines. I want to draw myself back from people and institutions that don't respect me. I want to travel again. I want to take up music again. I want to learn how to wear and style a tie. I want to write more letters and spend less time in the tar pits of social media.
I'm so grateful to every one of you for reading here, for the gift of your attention in this space that isn't experienced in infinite scroll and algorithmic inflammation. I hope to make it better, in the year to come.
But for now, Stu's just started playing "Take on Me" and I want to go dance before we ring the New Year in.
Happy New Year, friends. I wish you every good thing.
PS: Bistraynti 3aleikoum!