New Year

It’s 2011.

I went to bed at 10:00p.m. on New Year’s Eve. I’ll need to make up for that next year.

The best New Year’s I ever had? Hmm. A few years back I went to San Francisco. I had dinner at my parents and then a group of random friends took a train to the city. We drank too much in a pub and then wandered, arm in arm, down to the water to watch fireworks over the Golden Gate Bridge. That was pretty good. The best? I don’t know.

I’d like to have a really romantic New Year’s — like the ones that happen in movies — Like when Harry Met Sally. How they meet up in that Hotel Ballroom and dance and isn’t that when he tells her he loves her and they kiss? I can’t remember. I think so.

When I was sixteen and in love with my high school sweetheart, I went to Disneyland with all my close friends and my boyfriend. A Youth Group trip. And after we ate everything, and went on every ride, and the time was almost midnight, we ran haphazardly to a meeting point where a big band was playing on a stage. There we danced under fireworks and streamers and I got a good, long kiss. Sixteen was good. Maybe the best, because, well, it was sixteen.

Last night Shawn and I drove through old town, post Rose Parade. The city looked like my bedroom looked at 8 or the side of an L.A. freeway. Trash everywhere (no Barbie heads like I had in my room at 8). At the stoplight I surveyed the trash to see what was left – coffee cups, crumpled napkins, half-eaten food. We marveled at how much it must cost the city to clean up and how disgusting people are when they’re gathered in masses. At another stoplight I saw a group of teenagers dressed in costumes eating together. They were illuminated by the yellow lights of the restaurant and they bounced from table to table, to the trash can, and to the soda dispenser. I was momentarily envious of them and the space in time they occupied — that time in youth when all you can see is RIGHT NOW and all you want is your friends and that guy to flirt with. So fun. No car payments, no job, no school loans, no supervisors, no rent, and no sense of reality. Sitting where they sit, they think they can be and do anything they want — and it’s true– they can — there life is teaming with options.

I sound mournful of MY right now. It sounds like I regret the decisions I made that got me here. I don’t think that’s right. I think I just miss THAT space. I still dream. I still wonder who I’ll be and what I’ll do with all the years I have left to live. But of course, there’s a weightiness now to the dreams, because I’m older. And friends. That’s the real ache of it all. Friends grow up, and fend for themselves, and often move away. And that energy and community that fuels your existence in that diner, or that coffee place, or in your backyard — it changes. I am still held together by a close group of friends – but they live everywhere – Alabama. Argentina. San Diego. Concord. Ohio. Peru. Sacramento. Oregon. In my dreams, I have them all right here, gathered with me over a cup of coffee. And we are just as young as when we first met, just as free, and wild, and dreamy. We live in the same building, or still across the street, or even in the same home. We stay up late and wonder about everything – who we will marry, what we’ll name or kids, and how we’ll take care of our parents when we finally make enough money. And we’re still committed to our big, stupid plan — to start a commune on a farm, where we raise chickens, and children, and bring in crazy, drug addict poor people to live with us. And I’m a writer. And we all play music together. And we share resources because we’re perfect socialists.

It could still happen.

Not that reality is that bad.
My reality.
I have to remind myself, when I get like this, all forlorgn and prone to romanticize the past, that my reality is actually pretty terrific. What I have now – isn’t maybe what I thought I’d have – but it’s solid, and it’s good, and it’s mine, and some of it I earned, and most of it is mearly the grace of God. I have a meaningful job that I believe helps the world be a little better. There’s a good man, that shows up, and would gladly dance with me under fireworks and he likes the way I dream. And there’s good friends that give me reasons to travel and places to go. I can’t yet provide for my parents, but I have them both, alive and close. I have the space to craft words on a page. I have endless amounts of music, everywhere, in everything. I really am lucky.

Just missing a space in time.