It's 12:27am January 1st, 2017. I stood outside for 20 minutes listening to the firework thunder and echoes of enthusiastic lungs laughing as they shouted into the night. A new year...what exactly does that mean beyond the turning of the calendar, the passing of a date? The air was crisp and pure and smelled of Spring four months away, snow and ice guaranteed to coat the world until then. My heart longs for warmth but is astounded at how quickly this season seems to be passing.
I'm now curled in bed with feet tucked beneath the down comforter, Hazel on the floor at my side, and the boys left gaming in the basement with a 2am curfew - even now their laughter ricochets up through the ancient ductwork and faintly ripples in the air. Jase slumbers beneath the covers (he's fighting an early winter head cold I am fervently hoping he does not share) and the Twilight Zone classic marathon paints my bedroom with wavering black and white shadows.
This year had a different list. Older birthdays and boys learning to drive. A position that has massive promise but that took my husband away for weeks at a time on a regular basis. A book published. Paintings finished. I resigned. These notes on a list look different but the year felt...hard. How does life feel? Does your year spill across your mind in a list like mine does? A series of triumphs and failures, laughter and sorrow? The boys are nearly men and the dog no longer a puppy and I find the lines about my eyes are faintly deeper. I sleep less (who knew three hours could be enough?) and dream vivid dreams that make my husband laugh out loud with their absurdity.
A new year. A human year. Right now, my bedroom draped in flickers of grey, I am promising myself to feel it. To taste and laugh and cry and rage. The wind rattled my window just now, promising a storm before dawn. I turn off the light and watch the branches dance beneath the stars.
The night seemed heavy as it closed about the house. I could hear ice tapping against the windows; frozen rain beneath dark clouds outside the window frame, a virgin winter's storm. The day had been full of uncounted trips up and down the steps, silent lugging of laundry and Christmas décor and a somewhat heavy heart. My elder sister is in California, her mother (she is my half sister) battles after cancer related surgery...a friend of mine is struggling to tread water with her son, and another contemplates life-altering changes to his horizon. The holidays seem to amplify life - in all of its loveliness as well as its agony.
Two weeks ago I was taken to court as my ex-husband petitioned to quit paying child support. In his words, "the eldest child is quickly approaching emancipation" (Sawyer's 18th birthday is in June) and he no longer wanted to provide for Sawyer or his 15 yr-old brother (who happens to be 6' 8" tall and wears a size 15 shoe, just imagine the grocery bill alone). The story is tangled and long and personal, but when the line of questioning from the Judge went a particular direction pertaining to his ethics in business - he angrily withdrew his petition. I left relieved, strained, exhausted...and when I discovered he'd retaliated by leaving an anonymous scathing review of my book on Amazon two days ago...angry.
The spray from the shower head is heavy rain at the end of a drought. My dry shoulders hunch against the torrent, the tight muscles slowly relaxing as heat penetrates through sinew and bone. I watch the water swirl about my feet and bend to push the plug into the drain. I hear voices in my heart. Beyond the closed bathroom door I listen to one of the boys on the stairs...I slowly kneel in the tub. This claw foot monstrosity was one of the reasons we bought the house off Craig's list seven years ago, and I fervently promised it was going to be worth it despite the living room ceiling falling in four years later when there was a leak from the plumbing.
Tonight the tears stream down my face, mingling with the water that now rises against my waist. I turn, slowly sinking back, letting the steaming warmth envelope me. I take a breath, and pull my head beneath the hot, wet silence.
The hush. That moment when your heartbeat is louder than your thoughts.
Several weeks ago I found myself in a conversation about our virtual selves vs our concrete. Our ideals vs our handshake. Please don't tell me you're for $15 minimum wage if you don't tip your waitress well or that we need more kindness if you cut off people in traffic on a regular basis. I took the boys Christmas shopping yesterday and thus commenced a lesson in rude behavior, dangerous driving, and terrible manners. Who are we? In real life - not online where we debate policy and morals and supposed integrity; where we can attack without consequence. Who are we...who are you? What kind of neighbor are you? Employee? Parent? Spouse? Friend? In real life where the scent of you is as palpable as your words...
My lungs burn as I clamp the muscles in my throat and keep my head beneath the water, my heartbeat furious thunder against the rage within my flesh. Gasping, I surface...my quiet house seems so loud. My soul shouting.