I suppose I should not have been surprised that 2011 was kind of crappy. Now that I think of it, the millennium is only now figuring out how to deal with hormones and figuring out that there is no tooth fairy. When I was 11, I saw death up-close and personal for the first time and learned how complicated grief can be. (I also broke my jaw, which gave me a lifelong ambivalence to milkshakes and intimate, personal knowledge of how it feels to carry wire cutters with you everywhere you go for two straight weeks. Spoiler: it's weird.)
Learning about death is never complete. Experiencing death is odd and hard and weird and sad and sometimes really hilarious. It can be unexpected. It can be drawn out. Most horrifyingly, it can be an enormous relief sometimes. No matter what, the breath will leave your own lungs for a moment or two once it happens and then you have a choice of what is next. I had four moments this year of losing my breath and making a choice. The first time, I chose the phone and friends. The second time, I chose the phone and friends and jokes. The third time, I chose bourbon. The fourth time, there was nothing to choose as I was experiencing loss through my dear, sweet friend and simply felt impotent.
Here's a story about time 3: my uncle was sick and wasn't going to get better. We knew this. My mom told me in the morning that they had chosen Hospice. I helped some friends unpack their house and then a friend and I hit the local dive bar for a beer. My dad called and told me that my uncle, his brother had passed. I went back in the bar and cried openly.
It's really something to weep openly in a dive bar at 5 PM on a Sunday when the Eagles aren't playing. Really something.
My friend ordered us some bourbon and the bartender snarled, "I hope you're not crying over some man. Cause it ain't worth it." I said that I sort of was crying over a man - my uncle had just passed. The O Shit face was pretty amazing, the shots were on the house, and we stayed for hours. Then I sat up in my room until 4 AM, playing Angry Birds and trying not to think about things. That's how it goes sometimes.
This year has inspired me to grow and to actively work on being a better person. I still hate nature and I'm still going to be a snarky little gossip queen who makes fun of celebrities' outfits, but I'm working on realizing that I can only control my own happiness. This is important; I sincerely had no idea I could not force other people to be happy, healthy, or whole.
I'm pretty much terrible at New Year's Resolutions, but here's what I've got this year:
I resolve to cultivate stillness in my life, to appreciate quiet, and to fully commit myself to living fully and with loving joyfulness.
Oh! And to never, ever wear a gown with a jeans jacket.