Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013, I have had a nice time being friends with you.

I moved this year, for the first time in 10 years, in with my nice boyfriend. I changed jobs for the first time in almost as many years. After a few years of revolutions like growing new skin from knives and glitter it has been a nice change to move forward instead of just away. I wandered a little, to Hawaii and Asheville and twice to New York, back to magic Orcas. I met babies and celebrated engagements and learned how to make flatbread.

We lost my nan this year, unexpectedly, and while we are no stranger to loss in these woods it's a unique experience to lose someone who has been gone for so long. Still, as we go along we find ourselves riddled with empty places, pocked with holes, and that's never any easier to accept. Even when we grow back around what is gone.

Mostly you were quiet, 2013, a nice year for breathing and thinking and laughing. I think of Jane Kenyon's "Happiness":
There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone. 
Or, I suppose, the most important part, like this line from Mindy Nettifee, "One look from you and my spine reincarnates as kite string." I think you're pretty alright, 2013.


Thursday, December 05, 2013

I read Cry, the Beloved Country around the same time most people do--maybe 9th, 10th grade. In Wuthering Heights Catherine Earnshaw says, "I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind." At some point I adopted that as the best way of explaining the books that come to you just when you need them and forever alter the alignment of your brain, and Cry, the Beloved Country was just that kind. It was the first time I had heard of apartheid and it came to me as I was starting to realize for myself the startling breadth of injustice and hurt in the world. And so it was subsequently because of Alan Paton that I read about Nelson Mandela and started thinking deeply about the startling breadth of kindness and light that is also possible in the world. This is the side that I have tried to fall on ever since, and part of what led me to this life as a public servant.

I spend a lot more time thinking about South Africa these days than one would think, but I work in HIV prevention research and that is one of our battlefronts. It's one of those funny through lines that happen in life all the time, how I spend half of my days thinking about this place that was so abstract to me as a young teenager but still, for a while, a place that I spent half my time thinking about. Like wine through water.

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”