The house is still.
The kids are (finally) asleep. M is out with friends. The cats have even tucked themselves away somewhere. For now. And it’s quiet. It’s quiet like it is so rarely quiet. I can hear the soft sounds of our home, clocks ticking and air moving, the soundtrack I usually don’t even know is there.
When he reminded me this morning that he’d be out tonight, I looked forward to this moment. This moment of still and quiet. I crave this, usually, at this time of year every year. I want to pause and be still and reflect on a cycle of days gone, capture the good and quietly release the bad and ready myself for a new cycle to begin. I’ve sought this peace at the end of every year for over a decade and I’m almost superstitious about it. Though, if I’m honest, the ritual hasn’t always brought a good year. No, that takes other things entirely.
But this evening I lingered upstairs even after the kids had quieted down. I wandered around social media. I painted my nails a pale shade of gold, feeling more sparkly than introspective. I even woke my oldest to apologize to her for yelling at her earlier. I could have snuck by with the lingering and the reading and even the nail painting. But waking a sleeping child is the ultimate sign of avoidance.
Tomorrow we’ll have people over to celebrate the new year. It will be a small and early party, as New Years parties go. We all have small children and we wouldn’t dream of keeping any one of them up to see the clock turn. Though I did promise to wake my girl to wish her a Happy New Year in the moment. And I will. But our friends will all be gone long before the ball drops. And still, I spent my evening yesterday hanging glittery shapes from the ceiling. Because lately, it seems, that inviting people into our home means I must, first, hang things from the ceiling. And we just took down the snowflakes…
But the sparkles and celebration preparations are just further distractions. Like my nails and my apology. Distractions from what I know I must do and what I can’t seem to bring myself to this year. It’s time to pack up 2014 and begin again.
And it’s a little bit silly because I know, logically, that January 1 will dawn just as any other day dawns. Eventually I’ll remember to write a ‘5’ at the end of the year instead of a ‘4’ but, otherwise, things will keep moving along. There’s no reason for my world to shift any more or less drastically as this week ends than it did before. Flipping to a new calendar doesn’t mean closing the door to all that happened in 2014. It really just means creating new space and more space to keep opening more doors. Breathing in a fresh sense of perspective and taking advantage of the energy of the new.
But I always have trouble saying goodbye to a good year. The good ones have a certain magic to them that I always worry will turn. I look back and I can still feel how 2007 seemed to pale in comparison to 2006. How 2009 felt dreadful after a sparkling 2008. How 2011 made up beautifully for a struggle of a 2010 but 2012 and 2013 were, once again, so so tricky. And so I worry that the wonder that was 2014 will turn in another 27 or so hours.
This year changed me and my world in ways I could have never predicted, wasn’t even sure I wanted, and yet, now, I can’t imagine my life without.
This was the year I began living my dream. This was the year I began to take my writing seriously. This was the year I found my words in places I used to only dream about. This was the year I began working on the book I’ve been thinking about for years.
This was the year she began Kindergarten and settled into hobbies and loves and passions that bring her joy. It was the year she began to read and write and I’ll always love this year for the doors it opened for her. This was the year he began to talk and introduced us to a new way of parenting because he needed a little something different.
This was a year that tested and questioned and demanded. And through each test, we answered and tried and I feel good about where we’re landing here, at the end of it. This was a year that, mostly, we didn’t just let happen. We made it happen.
I began the year here with this Neil Gaiman quote. (I’ll begin next year with another later this week because Mr. Gaiman gets New Years). I didn’t look back on these words much after I included them but still, somehow, they came true for me. I made mistakes this year. I made new things, tried new things, and I lived and pushed myself and everything changed. This year I Did Something. And for that, I’ll never forget 2014.
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing the things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
Happy last day of 2014 to you. I hope you have found a moment to reflect on all that was as you prepare for all that is to come.