Dearest Rachel –
Well, 2021 is finally over with, and good riddance to bad rubbish.
I can’t imagine how a year could have been worse than this. Now, I’ve been admonished not to phrase my observation so, because it’s like tempting fate. Asking “how could things get worse?” is a surefire way to actually find out. And yet, I stand by my original statement. The first close loss is the most painful, I’ve heard it said, and who was closer to me than you?
In any event, you might think I’d be happy to see this year gone, and make a big deal about sending it off. Well… yes and no.
It’s been nearly three decades since I’ve had a New Year’s celebration this subdued. At least, for all that time, I’ve had someone to kiss at the critical moment. Now…?
Ruby actually asked me what I was doing to ring in the new year. Yes, I gave her my phone number after all; that led to a fairly awkward conversation (that was still being made through Google Hangouts rather than to my cell phone directly, so that’s probably a whole other topic of conversation for another time) that continues to leave me questioning whether this is worth pursuing. Anyway, I answered her honestly – what with Logan coming over, I expected to be holing up in either the bedroom or the upstairs office. Were it the latter, I fully intended to do some more writing to you, but I was also aware that I’m a little short on motivation, and might just call it an early night. Yes, I was going to go to bed early on the one night of the year when everybody’s staying up until midnight. I must have sounded pretty pathetic to her.
But seriously, what’s the point in staying up and celebrating by oneself? Sure, I wouldn’t technically be ‘by myself,’ as the boys are still here, but I’m not really ‘with’ them, and shouldn’t pretend to be.
I won’t go so far as to claim that time is an illusion. Rather, it’s an agreed-upon construct, based on the rotation and revolution of the planet that we call home. It’s necessary to agree upon times in order to conduct activities and synchronize schedules, but that does not imbue one moment or one day with any more inherent importance than the next. There is no more significance to midnight on December 31st then there is to any other moment in the year; we have simply ascribed significance to it by designating it as the moment when one year becomes the next. Beyond that, it’s just another moment in time. And yet, every year is 365¼ days long; we have to consider somewhere – or, more to the point, somewhen – to be an endpoint and a corresponding beginning, and this is the moment that we’ve collectively agreed upon.
That being said, I find very little worth celebrating this year. Oh, we took Ellen out for lunch, since, this being a holiday, she didn’t have to go in to work, and thus was otherwise free to meet us on this rare occasion. I really do miss being able to go out together as a family, and while Ellen isn’t you, it still felt a bit like that. It was nice.
But somewhere between seven and eight, when Logan arrived, I began to feel a little bit superfluous. You see, It’s one thing to be there when Daniel and Ellen are conversing; I’m still part of the conversation, or at least welcome to be. I don’t feel that way when the boys are together. Oh, they don’t shoo me off or anything, but it’s just that I don’t really belong. Even if I were into My Hero Academia, or any of the other anime series that they’re currently watching, injecting myself into their activities doesn’t seem appropriate.
So, it’s off to the bedroom for the duration.
When I was a kid, I was fine with that. I had my books, and other things to keep myself occupied in my solitary way. I still kind of do, with a massive collection of reading material on my iPhone (like everyone else does). There’s also the TV monitor in the bedroom, so I can keep watching stuff – including stuff like sports, which Daniel has no interest in. Kid me would be in heaven to be confined to this room
But you know better as to what heaven is like; you’re there, and I’m not.
It didn’t take long before all of my options lost any interest, and I switched off the lights; only to be wakened at half past eleven by the boys, who considerately thought I might wish to be up as the clock turned over. I rolled out of bed (I had fallen asleep still dressed) and joined them in the family room (well, I sat at the dining room table), and watched some intentionally lame sketch allegedly taking place in some bunker in an apocalyptic non-future (as it was set on the cusp of the turn from 2021 to 2022), several years into their sequestration from the rest of the outside world, due to… well, you remember. In retrospect, it was a relatively clever framing device, but I wasn’t exactly into it, and the stylistic suck, while clearly deliberate, was still uncomfortably bad… especially since several of their songs were set to the tune of “Happy Birthday.” Daniel, in particular, wasn’t thrilled with it.
We were all fairly happy when the stream essentially ended a minute after midnight.
I may have stayed up for half an hour or more, breaking out one of the wheels of Gouda I’d brought home from Schiphol, but it wasn’t long before the boys were engrossed in conversation that I didn’t think I needed to involve myself into. I bid them goodnight, and prepared myself for bed – although I didn’t bother to change out of my sweatshirt and jeans. Honestly, I don’t get why the internet seems to be bothered by the idea of sleeping in jeans.
The Japanese have a tradition they call Hatsuyume (初夢) saying that the first dream of the new year indicates what manner of luck a person will have in the coming year. There are certain specific things that are particularly auspicious should they be part of one’s dream. However, they have no particular guidance should those few items not be a part of it.
For what it’s worth, I found myself at Fort Wilderness, camping in one of their lodges, awaiting the following day when we would go out hunting… to catch Pokémon. No, I don’t think this was a case of everyone being up their to play Pokémon Go (although I’ve run into several diehard aficionados in the past couple of months; I really thought the fad had passed by 2017); some folks there actually had pet Pokémon already with them (as hunting dog equivalents?). Somewhere along the way, I was informed that the camp owner and director had recently passed away… which even in the dream I thought was weird, as I remembered that ‘Uncle Tru’ would be well beyond a hundred years old at this point. There wasn’t much more to it than that. Don’t know if that was regret about the Camp Awana event being cancelled, or a substitute sense of loss for you and Chompers – it sure doesn’t give any indication as to whether 2022 is an auspicious year or not.
I still insist it has to be better than 2021, and hang the fact that I’m tempting fate.
In any event, honey, wish me (and Daniel) luck. I’m pretty sure we’re going to need it.