The New Year is waiting in the wings, in that breathless moment of darkness before stepping out onstage, into the blinding light and the perfect fullness of silence that only an expectant audience can produce. I wish that I had something profound to say, but all I’ve got is a handful of bits and pieces, shimmering fragments to turn over and marvel at.
Cancer-dog is curled up in a furry doughnut of pure contentment on the sofa. My sweet four-year-old, who was reciting only the “bowlful of jelly” part of “The Night Before Christmas” ad nauseam in the bathtub just minutes ago, is drifting off to sleep, long lashes dark against his rosy cheeks, a stuffed bunny tucked in beside him. If he has his way, 2014 will be the Year of the Rabbit–the year of his rabbit, anyway. I have informed him that a rabbit and Cancer-dog, who is a terrier, cannot coexist, but he is hopeful.
My wild and lovely six-year-old is fighting sleep, as always, having informed me somewhat accusingly at supper that if he doesn’t eat enough at that meal, he’s hungry all night. Because, you know, I feed him watered-down gruel and bellow indignant refusals in response to all requests for more. At supper, he ate a bowl of chicken noodle soup, some cheese, a cup of mandarin orange segments, chips and dip, several marshmallow snowmen, and two slices of bologna. I think there were some other things in there that I’m forgetting. And then he requested a bologna-and-jelly sandwich, which I can now add to my list of “Things I Could Never Have Imagined in a Kazillion Years Until I Became a Mother.” I hope he’s not pregnant.
My sainted husband has checked the mousetraps. A couple of weeks ago, we inadvertently allowed a mouse to die a horrible death in the live traps we bought in order, ironically enough, to avoid cruelty to rodents. (Also ironic is the fact that we have invited a chinchilla into our basement of our own free will. A chinchilla is exactly like a mouse, except that it poops bigger poops and hopefully does not carry the Bubonic Plague). So now we are obsessive-compulsive trap-checkers, having spent a truly dreadful weekend berating ourselves for our callousness and feeling like the scum of the earth. Upon checking a trap this evening, my sainted husband discovered that the mouse it caught a mere few hours previously had gnawed a mouse-sized hole in the trap and escaped. I am no longer feeling so guilty about the dead one. Clearly we were performing a Darwinian act of mercy in eliminating the mouse that wasn’t clever enough to eat the trap we set. Well, I’m going to tell myself that, anyway.
And now, the New Year inhales deeply, breathing in the dust of heavy velvet curtains and shifting its weight against the worn floorboards backstage. It waits for its cue, feeling the rush of adrenaline that comes before walking out onto the stage. In the audience, we sit and wait. We know that something is coming. We have seen this play before, but each time it’s a little different.
Maybe this time around, there will be a rabbit. Maybe there will not be so many mice. Maybe the canine child (the one to whom we often have cause to refer as “The Good One”) will still be with us next Christmas. It’s scary, not knowing things before they happen, but freeing, too. And exciting.
I generally avoid New Year’s resolutions. They feel like a setup for failure. But I’m crammed to the gills with New Year’s hopes. We’re lousy with them ’round here.
Maybe 2014 will be the year I find an agent. Maybe it will be the year I actually manage to begin to make a living doing the thing that I love. I hope so. Maybe it will be the year I finally manage to break myself of the habit of spacing twice after each sentence.
Well, okay, let’s not get all crazy up in here.
I hope, for you, that the New Year brings hope as well. I hope that it brings beautifully impossible things, things like love and healing and wonder and contracts with major publishing houses. I hope that you are well, that you are happy. I hope that your feet hit the ground firmly, that you do not stumble on your path. But you will stumble. I will, too. A lot. So I hope that you stand and laugh and dust off the dust, and that the bruises are just enough to learn from. And above all else, I hope that you revel in the performance of this year, for it has never existed before for any other audience, and there’s no repeat performance. When it’s over, you’ll be one of the cool kids who can say you were there. So laugh out loud until you snort, and cry lots (even over little things, like mice), and elbow the person next to you, and eat lots (’cause I’m not making you any more bologna-and-jelly sandwiches after you’ve already brushed your teeth), and clap until your hands are warm and tingling when you stop.
Happy New Year. May yours earn a standing ovation at the end.