Welcome to 2014. The world as we knew it ended in December of 2012. I think that explains why 2013 fucked me up so much.
I was not prepared.
This year, I'm preparing for anything. I'm glancing over my shoulder, expecting the absolute worst to happen, like it will tap me from behind and say "surprise!" I hold my breath when I answer the phone and my mother says "Dawn," in a very concerning way, like she has the worst news in the world to tell me... even though the worst news has already been delivered, and that she could not deliver the news that would be unfathomably worse than that.
I started my period yesterday, which is pretty apropos. When I lived in New York and worked for Bankers Trust, I worked with a guy named Aramis Perez. He wasn't the brightest bulb on the tree, and I always thought the following comment proved such, but tonight, or this morning (however you want to look at it), I'm thinking there may be something to it. One day, after a blood drive, he mentioned that men needed to donate blood because women at least had their periods, so they got their monthly cleansing. I never thought much about bloodletting, nor about the fact that I do it regularly. And this month, I've been especially PMS-y, so this bloodletting has been a huge emotional release.
But then, I've been an emotional volcano since August. Turning 40 and losing both my father and grandmother within a month of each other has forced me to face the reality of my own mortality. While I know it may not come for another 40 or 50 years, or could happen before I finish this sentence, I have faced, called into conference, sent to detention, contemplated, considered, denied, accepted, denied again, blamed, hated, pined for, and entertained the thought of death for the last quarter of 2013. The last week has been the most difficult. I returned to the place where I first learned of my father's passing.
Colville, WA was once our oasis. In fact, when we were so full of stress and screaming at each other and our children on our way out the door for Labor Day Weekend, Paul and I were both longing to get to my in-laws' place, as it's our emotional center, drawing us away from the crazy of city life, work, and commercialism, taking us back to the simpler times of daily chores, cultivating food, and preparing for the near future. Little did I know as we were pulling away from the city, leaving our cares behind, that my oasis would soon become my misery. I didn't realize until I was there for Christmas, just how much I had been undone in such a short, painful weekend.
Last year, we spent the week sledding, building a snowman and tromping through the hundreds of acres in the snow. This year, I didn't leave the house. I couldn't convince myself to do so. Even though the trees were bending to the weight of the ice and snow, begging me to photograph them in their brilliance, I couldn't do it. I couldn't make that mistake again. I couldn't enjoy myself while someone so dear to me left the earth with nothing more than a random passing thought while pulling up my pants in the bathroom.
Did I not mention that yet? The day my father died, before I went for a hike with my brand new camera in hand, I had a crazy thought go through my head as I glanced at myself in the mirror in the bathroom. I thought "You know, one of these days you're going to get old and die. It happens to all of us." I looked at myself and gave a shy smile, not knowing why the thought came to my mind. And then I thought "Don't look in my closet," thinking about my "sewing room" that I created out of a closet. In addition to all the sewing supplies, I keep a random assortment of shit in there. It's a wasteland... a garbage dump of stuff I can't quite figure out what to do with but can't seem to let go of and toss. And there I was, at the moment of my dad's demise, thinking that I didn't want anyone rooting through my closet should I pass.
And the next week, I was rooting through my dad's closet, which, minus the sewing supplies, was just like mine.
It gives me comfort to think that my dad may have tried to notify me in an ethereal way, to say goodbye in the only way he was able. But this time, I waited to hear something new, something more comforting, and expected more pain, another message from another loved one's passing. Instead, I merely felt the echo in the memory of the old thought, and this time, all I could think was "death and taxes, death and taxes," over and over. All weekend. No matter where I was -- bathroom, kitchen, or bed, between the legs of my husband.
I was a sentry, waiting for a message, not leaving my post, lest I miss important orders. At night, I dreamt of losing family members - one night it was my mother. Another night, my brother. I was on high alert, keeping my phone with me at all times, expecting a call I should never expect, jumping at every ring.
I couldn't wait to get home, away from the memory of that day, when I got the phone call from my brother while we were in the driveway, and for some strange reason I finally had good cell phone service up there. I remember asking him to repeat himself a few times. It didn't compute that my dad. MY DAD was dead. Even now, I expect a phone call or letter from him. After all, it's Christmas, isn't it?
At the hotel on the trip home, I found myself loathing the morbidly obese man at the breakfast bar who was unquestionably larger and unhealthier than my father. How dare he be alive when my father is not! I found myself asking nobody in particular in my head why that man couldn't have died instead, and then immediately felt guilty for wishing such.
Now we're home and I'm surrounded by his memory -- all the things I took from his place, for Christmas craft projects I didn't have the strength to make. Pillows from his old t-shirts, hats and bookmarks from his old sweaters, copies of his AA testimonies on CD. All of these things in neat boxes added to my closet -- my closet that I hope nobody has to go through should I leave this earth. My shit is now his shit. His shit is now my shit. Our shit. No wonder he pops into my head every time I'm in the throes of ecstasy with my husband. I thought I was just really fucked up. I am really fucked up, but maybe not as much as I thought Freud would think I am.
So here I am, standing on the precipice between 2013 and 2014. I'm so ready to jump, to leave behind the pain and suffering that I remember from the last year. I can't remember being happy. I'm sure I was at some point, but the lingering pain snuffs it out so quickly. I'm also terrified to move on, as I can imagine even more terrible hardships ahead. I've lived a charmed life for the past 10 years, and now things are beginning to crumble away. December is crumbling away at my feet. If I don't jump into January, I'll fall into it with no bearings or footing.
So here goes, 2014. I'll jump, face forward, feet first. I'm tear-stained, battered, bruised, beaten and tired. But I'm also strong, secure, and brave (if only on paper), and I have a lot of love around me. I'm coming through, not the other way around. Make way, and let me have my time, my love and my peace. If you bring me as much hardship and strife, I may leave you fading into history blood smeared and splattered like I did your predecessor, even if it is only on the absorbent layer of the pantyliner left in the trashcan of yesteryear.
And 2013, Fuck. You.