Good Morning, 2014

1 01 2014

I’m not sure that I’m ever going to shake the sense, when I write the date on anything, let alone the new date at the start of the year, that we’ve somehow survived into sci-fi just because the narration of the number starts with “twenty”–it always sounds like it’s missing a preceding “stardate” (and I never watched Star Trek anyway, but a generation’s cultural language for future-time doesn’t require active participation to acquire).  I’m sure it’s weirder for our parents and grandparents–although I don’t think any of mine ever read/watched that much science fiction, so the weird probably grows from different roots.

It’s a combination sci-fi and perfectly timeless morning: Evanny was in her high chair, ignoring sliced apples and Cheerios for my Smartphone, on which she was watching the video to Ylvis’s The Fox for about the seven-hundredth-through seven-hundred-and-seventh time.  Her concentration always piques near the end; we think she’s studying the choreography in an effort to learn how to fly.  I’m sitting on the floor with a bowl of steel-cut oat porridge, freeze-dried blueberries stirred in to bring a little crunchy nutritive reminder of the living season; now she’s pacing around the kitchen, waving the phone, and coming back, open-mouthed as a little bird, every minute or so for a bite she waits, little lips pursed and pointed in her characteristic little fish-beak, for me to blow cool before I spoon in. “Och,” she’ll say, for “hot,” if I misjudge, but she comes back anyway.  Outside, the whole world seems freeze-dried, a thin layer of snow from yesterday dusting the brittle husk of what in summer was a plump, blue berry of a planet, merrily circling the sun in a rhythmic dance of ripeness.  Of course this is an illusion; for our friends in New Zealand, for whom the year started almost a whole day ago already, it’s summer now (and the planet no more or less its plump berry-self than on any other day), and New Year’s Day makes sense.  They can greet the new year with sun salutes outside in the fresh sea air wearing tank tops (as long as they’re early enough, so the light is still at enough of a slant not to fry their skin into crisp, celebratory bacon).  Here, it would be overdressed yoga in the chilly living room, toes dodging the fallen spines of the dourly shedding blue spruce, if there were room on the rug, but a friend stayed over last night and is curled up in a sleeping bag, in a primordial huddle against the gone-cold remnants of last night’s fire.

Last night’s welcome was simple and warm, if a little longer than we’d planned it to be: a few friends, a little friendly celebration-smooching visited, unwelcomed, on one man from another, wine, homemade cookies, fancy snack-pizzas from our all-day excursion last week to Trader Joe’s, champagne, 80’s music, a game of Cards Against Humanity, a little guitar-playing, and then a late-night round of “what does the baby want” (the tune of which, if you’re paying attention, you can hear with no further explanation) that went on for an hour and a half after the rest of our guests went home.  There were a few “Happy New Year” texts exchanged from a handful of asynchronous parties across the globe, but fewer than in many years past (in part because I didn’t send but a few myself–Evanny takes the phone to bed to play her all-night sleep song–the Bluetooth can’t reach her speaker from any farther than the next room).  The immediacy takes over–and it’s still too soon to tell if this is the beginning of a lifelong pattern of what happens to families (does it always) or just what living-with-littles is like.  We’ll have a few more years to have to practice small patterns: little parties, small hours, a few greetings, a quiet snuggle in the dark instead of a rain of glitter, a cacophony of corks, a screen stuffed full of screaming strangers freezing on a closed-off street in the interest of Doing some Famous Thing to post about on Facebook.  And by the time everybody’s old enough for a babysitter, I wonder if we’ll have the energy, the interest, or the opportunities anymore to recreate the craziness we used to count on to make the transition from one set of numbers to another seem meaningful, “done right,” sufficient to represent whatever grand transformations we wanted the shift from one day to the next to ensure.

The distinction between calendar years seems to matter less and less as each arrives; so far, that’s mostly been an observation characteristic of blurring, like a temporal version of globalization–you can buy the same hamburger on any continent, and it’s the same cat-and-dog hair on the rug in the morning as the night before, the same little curl of hair just starting to hang low behind Evanny’s ear (but only one of them), the same bare trees outlined against the dingy sky–like paper dyed with dishwater instead of tea or indigo.  My goal–not necessarily for this year, both because I imagine it will take more time than that to really realize, and because to bracket it with dates defeats the purpose–is to reverse the focus of that meaningless, so that instead of the change-of-year being hard to see because the minutia of those years all run together, instead, it’ll be the shift from one calendrically-important day to the next that fails to stand out, because each new day will have its own new, dewy shine and soft, reflective promise.

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