It’s January. A new year is upon us and I am melancholy. You see, I quite liked 2019; wasn’t ready to say goodbye. In fact, I’m pretty sure last year had more to give. Like a once-used dryer sheet, it could have gone a few more rounds.
The past year might seem a blur, but to me its moments are startlingly vivid and practically tactile. Like sitting on the prickly grass at Oakledge Park watching a kayaker’s swirling arms move farther and farther away. Or gazing down my street in awe as the halo of each tree barely in bud looked more like dandelions gone to seed than the proclamation of spring. Or walking from Church Street to the Waterfront for a chocolate-vanilla-twist creemee that was no match for the summer blaze. Or selecting an exquisite scarlet leaf in a field of autumn confetti as if there had been a parade.
Even a few months ago seems like yesterday when the first big snow found my 88-year-old mother-in-law sledding down the slope outside our house. She “whoo-hoo-ed” as our dog Rocket ran beside her racing to the bottom. I’m still there in each of those moments, not ready to fold them up carefully and tuck them away.
Maybe the challenge is that each new year asks us immediately to look forward – like naming resolutions, declarations of what comes next. It’s not a bad idea, but even though I can easily conjure a list of what I could do better, I’m procrastinating. I don’t want to whiplash my head from last year into this one.
Before I get involved with a new year, don’t you think I have to end my relationship with 2019 first? An amicable divorce of sorts, although I’d start with a separation. I mean, I think we’d get along much better in the future, if 2019 and I have a cooling off period so to speak, so we don’t leave regretful or incomplete. They call that closure. Furthermore, I need to let 2019 know I’m not mad at it; that I’m leaving it in peace and love.
Part of the process is packing all of 2019’s boxes. And, boy, she has a lot of stuff. Each little calendar day holds everything from mundane appointments to big events like weddings and births.
As I pack, it’s a reunion of experiences that made their mark. Some painful – things that didn’t go as expected, the less-than-graceful moments we all have and, the saddest, the people we’ve lost. I won’t forget any of those for sure.
Of course, all this is tempered by the yearly harvest of joys we humans get as well. And, I’ll make sure to reap the smaller gains too. Like having profound conversations with my daughter, dining with my husband at our kitchen counter bistro and trekking across the cul-de-sac to visit neighbors.
2019 was quite generous with these everyday inestimable moments, which are indeed feats of their own. And, when I listen closely, 2019 whispers in my ear that 2020 has more of these gifts ahead.
It was just a few weeks ago our family celebrated winter solstice. We bent over a tiny fire standing in snow on a frigid night as we thanked the darkness, where seeds are germinating for the future ahead, and raised our faces to watch the sparks disappear into the night sky. It was surely a moment I’ll slip into my pocket and take with me as I get acquainted with the new year.
Carole Vasta Folley is a Vermont award-winning playwright and columnist. Contact her at carolevf.com.