“What’s your new year’s resolution?” she asked me.
“More,” I said.
January days are too short to precisely foretell the year that lies ahead of us.
They come and go in the darkness, making it harder to see exactly what delights we’ll encounter and what despair we’ll weather while we wash champagne glasses and work down debts accrued in yet another season of gift-giving.
I am a sucker for timelines, anniversaries, and milestones—these arbitrary man-made markers that carve our experience of life into bite-size pieces on which we can chew—though they sometimes prove hard to swallow still. And much of last year felt that way to me. I was overwhelmed more often than not. Even before divulging details of my own memories of the year, how could I not be? Needless to say, 2017 was a tumultuous and full twelve months societally, politically, and culturally.
Personally, in 2017, my relationship with my anxiety and depression deepened.
The three of us are Ol’ Pals by now! See, my dear hypochondria set us all up and still comes to visit for a drink now and again. They’ll all sit in my living room and laugh away while I stand at the bar, wracked, frantically shaking a cocktail shaker overfull with gin and ice and little more in hopes of sedating them and me into something like silence… or perhaps just stillness. Stillness would do. My partner, Brian, looks on with concern.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” he asks.
“No, no… I’ve got it,” I say, ever the happy host. “These are my guests.”
It can be difficult to ask for help.
Last January was full of these little dates. How I dreaded them! No matter my feelings, no matter my activity, my Ol’ Pals still came around. Understandable, I guess—I’m good company and I make a mean cocktail. I would entertain them the best I could and exhaust myself in the process.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” Brian would persist.
“No, no… I’ve got it,” I’d insist, “these are my guests.”
It can be difficult to ask for help.
It can be difficult to see beyond these experiences—especially in January, with its days too short to get ahead of ourselves and nights too dark to light the way ahead.
And yet, we have to believe. Throughout 2017, I did all I could to grow my capacity to do just that. Little by little, I fought my way through dates with my Ol’ Pals to times I could relish a bit more with loved ones towards whom I feel a little more fondness.
We have to believe in the year ahead.
January is cold and dark and short. We know this. We can do this, albeit begrudgingly.
February brings valentines. Remember valentines. Or galentines. Any holiday dedicated to love, however Hallmark it may be, is fine by me. Any excuse for delicious dinners out on the town and desserts of kisses and hugs sweeter than the best pastry chefs can make, I will take. And take and take.
March will be a little warmer. Here in the northeast, we’re bound to thaw a little bit here and there, in between freak snowstorms, of course. That gives us our annual inside joke with mother nature, whose trees begin to flower as soon as the first freeze passes, only to be coated over in that final snowstorm or three. And we share a smile of shared experience for our own audacious and hopeful desire to blossom beyond the bluster.
April shows us sun and showers instead of snow! April opens closets to lighter jackets and lessens our loads when we venture into the world. April, too, is my anniversary—by far my favorite marker of time.
May wills us towards warmth at long last. Spring will have sprung, and our chilly cities will begin to breathe more easily with a warm breeze here and there. Days grow longer as our sleeves grow shorter, then…
June bursts with Pride, sunshine, and summertime. If we’ve not gone to the beach by now, we’re already behind for the season. Patios across our cities will open with more and more rosés for sale by the glass. I will seek out my city’s supply of Pimms and promptly begin making Pimms cups through mid-autumn. June, too, is my birthday—my other favorite marker of time.
July is all air conditioner and swelter, barbeques and blockbusters, fireworks and friends. Maybe we get tan. I will work harder for that then I am willing to say.
August keeps the party going, only dampered by the kind of high-humidity summer thunder-storms that drive us inside to watch lightning crackle through cracked windows that lets the warm rain speckle and shine our skin. Perhaps this is a good time to get out of the city. This is when the Europeans do that, and they’ve been at it a while longer than us.
September exhales the summer’s last few hot breaths and prepares us for the monthly onslaught of holidays to come. We delight in our last summer revels.
October spooks us with our first few chills before Halloween and dazzles us with its splash of color throughout nature.
November is crisp with the first air cool enough to expose just how bright and blue the sky can be. We gather again with friends and family to eat, drink, and be merry. And drink some more.
December threatens dark that we fight with light. The spirit of the season rushes us through work days and play dates and shopping trips until we can sit with those we love to eat cookies and leftovers and watch whatever movie we’ve seen countless times and will see countless more as a simple and effective excuse to be near those we love without the need to busy the space with speech.
And then, we begin again.
And it’s hard. This January has brought me fitful sleeps and nightmares that follow day-long dates with Ol’ Pals. And yet, I believe a bit more. I think I have to. It’s not much, but it’s enough to get me through the dates, the short days, and the dark nights, and that counts.
When I’m standing at the bar, exhausted, whipping up yet another round, believing in what lies beyond helps. While Brian looks on, wishing he could send them home, the act of believing there is more beyond these January days and nights does wonders.
There is much to be said for presence in our given moment, but I find there is more to be said for hope. Hope is a finicky, audacious thing that sometimes lies to help us along our way, but it means well and it moves effectively.
This January, my New Year’s Resolution is “more.” More of that. All of it.
More hope. More belief. More life, in all its richness—if only I may be so lucky! More smiles. More celebrations. More dates—preferably without the Ol’ Pals, but I understand they, too, may get lonely and want some attention. I will remain ever the happy host, and more and more come and go as we make another brilliant trip around the sun we trust is there on even the shortest January days and darkest January nights.
I’ve made a playlist of all new music and rising stars to accompany our moments of audacious hope for and brilliant belief in the year that lies ahead.
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