31 December 2013

Good bye 2013. And good riddance.

Men Fighting, 1950, photo by Elliot Erwitt

Maybe it was because we forgot to eat black-eyed peas last New Year's Day. It's a Southern tradition: Eat black-eye peas -- a kind of bean, really -- and you'll have good luck all year. 

Or maybe it was because we slacked on the other custom. In the Celtic countries of my ancestors, you're supposed to kick out the eldest male child before midnight. Then, he's to be the first one to enter the home in the new year, and he should be crossing the threshold with a full bottle of whiskey.

Good luck charms. I wonder if they would have helped during what followed.

First my aunt died. Then my father in law. Then my own father. My identity was stolen. When someone else uses your credit cards and checking accounts, it's disturbing, like being groped by a cold hand. 

A close friend confided the worst kind of secret to me. The kind of secret owning a stench that sours even the best days. Our town was flooded, and mud-stinking water seeped in our basement. My son had a medical crisis, but it turned out well in the end. 

Some other, major disappointments kicked the bottom out of the year. Mostly, as I looked over my calendars and journals, I got the sense of a long grind, of grief and stagnation that didn't lift much until the autumn.

It's all relative. I'm not, for example, scrambling for shelter in Aleppo. I got a new and hugely better day job. In each of the deaths I mentioned, the passing was a kind of mercy. Each of them had suffered with disease for long enough. 

So: good in the bad, even this year. Still. Even though I'm another circle of the sun closer to my death, even though I lost time this year, time that won't ever come back, even with that, I'm glad to see this year go.

Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out, 2013.

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