Thursday, January 1, 2009

El Año Nuevo

A new year. Funny, I don’t feel any different. And nothing has changed.

When the clock struck twelve last night, I was sitting in an armchair in my living room, watching reruns of The Office with my mom. Shortly thereafter, she went to bed and I pulled out my laptop. There was nothing entertaining to do online, so at 1:30 in the morning on January 1, 2009, I stepped outside into the cold night air wearing pajamas and rubber muckers. I ran to the back of the 30 acre property and stopped at the tree line. There were no lights anywhere around except for the far off pinpoints of individual houses several miles off. The sky was clear and full of brilliant stars, just the way it had been on Christmas Eve. The tall narrow trees reached up blackly, in vivid contrast with the deep dark midnight blue of the heavens.

I don’t know what the windchill was last night, but I’m sure it was in the teens. Every time a breeze blew by it cut right through my shirt, but I was still surprisingly comfortable. It must have been an adrenaline rush, I guess. My God, it was simply beautiful outside.

….I want to climb up the blank blue dome as a man would storm the inside of a circus tent, wildly, dangling, and with a steel knife claw a rent in the top, peep, and, if I must, fall.

--Annie Dillard

My sentiments exactly, and such beautiful language. The branches of the trees reached up, up, up, straining stiffly, begging to touch the “blue dome.” I felt the same way. It was late, and I was half-crazed with exhaustion and cold. I stared up and raised my hands as high as I could, watching the tiny stars flicker between my fingers. I had to get higher. I looked about for a tree to climb. The big hickory wouldn’t do—there were no low branches to grab onto. No, it would have to be the skinny persimmon with the forked trunk. I latched on and pulled myself up, scrabbling awkwardly against the rough bark. It was not graceful, but I managed to ease myself into a comfortable standing position some eight feet off the ground. I looked around and laughed with wonder. This is how I would spend the first morning of the new year: greeting the stars and welcoming whatever was heading my way.

Soon I noticed that my hands were beginning their terrible deterioration into uselessness. The touch of the bark was exceedingly painful, like the prick of a needle. I needed to get down before I lost my grip completely, but this proved to be more difficult than I had counted on. I hung from a limb like a child on the monkey bars, but I wouldn’t let go because I couldn’t see how far down the ground was. Finally, I managed to swing my legs back onto the truck and shimmy to safety.

The cold was getting to me now. My face burned. I ran back inside (a mistake, as it turned out, because the temperature was incredibly low and I’m not exactly in the best shape, so I ended up making myself rather queasy) and jumped into bed. That was enough of that nonsense.

Last night, too, I took off my CHS class ring and replaced it with another—a tricolored, gold specimen that my parents gave me several years ago. It was time to get remove that symbol of the past and instead look to the future. I’ve got to let go. I’ve got to move on. I’ve got to grow up.

So, here’s to what’s to come! Here’s to opportunity! Here’s to good fortune and fellowship and love and life. Let’s make it all worthwhile, shall we?

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