1/1/20, 8:48 a.m.
Happy New Year, my friends! As I write this, the house is quiet aside from a wandering dog who didn’t go out and party himself into unconsciousness last night. The Christmas tree is still standing, lights on, like the old guy at the club just trying to catch your eye one more time.
Like you, I’ve got routines about New Year’s. I’m about to go whip up some Monkey Bread — biscuits, cut into quarters, slathered in butter and brown sugar and baked — just like I’ve done for the kids for so many years now. A little later, I’ll be a good Southern lad and serve up ham, black-eyed peas and collard greens, which are damn good with some quality hot sauce. Last night, I was at the same friends’ house I’ve been at on New Year’s Eve for more than a decade now, doing the same stupid things like launching fireworks that hit the tree canopy and came rocketing back down:
And, like every year, I had a moment where I started thinking forward. Maybe you do this too — you start thinking, what will have happened to me by the time I’m back here in 12 months? Where will I have gone, what will I have seen, what will I have learned and accomplished? Will I even BE back here in 12 months? (That last one bubbles up when I get too deep into red wine, which turns me into a nihilist German philosopher.)
You look around at moments like this and you want to freeze time: so many of your closest friends and family here beside you, many more at the other end of running text chains. And you know that’s impossible, that everyone grows older, that kids grow up and move out, that Life elbows its way into the party, invited or not. And it doesn’t even bring beer, the freeloading bastard.
Another routine: I journal every morning. The theory is to get my brain cranking, stretch the mental muscles and prep for the day ahead with a few minutes of thoughtful, composed meditations on the day ahead. The reality is usually something scrawled along the lines of OW MY HEAD HURTS WHY ARE YOU SUCH AN IDIOT FOR NOT DRINKING WATER BEFORE BED AT YOUR AGE DUMBASS? This morning, I looked at all the blank pages ahead — all the pages that I’ll write in over the coming days, weeks, months. And the thought occurred to me: What are you going to write in them? What joys will you exult in, what demons will you wrestle with in those pages?
I have no idea — but for the first time in awhile, the thought doesn’t fill me with a low-level, lurking-just-offshore dread. Maybe this is the ridiculous New Year’s optimism talking, but hey — new decade, new opportunities. One year from now, good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, we’ll all be here — another year closer to being neurally wired together at our cortexes, communicating only in GIFs and emoji, but still … here. With filled journal pages and a whole ton of new stories to tell.
See you back here in 12 months … and plenty of times between now and then.
[This is the point where, as a good 21st-century journalist, I'm supposed to list my favorite work I did of 2019. Nah. Let's look forward. If you enjoyed this, send it to a friend, and subscribe here to get the next dispatch in a few weeks. Peace!]