I suppose people die every year. Lots of people, in fact.
Truth be told, as much as Prince’s music (or George Michael’s, or David Bowie’s) provided a soundtrack to pivotal moments of my youth, as much as I loved Carrie Fisher as a princess when I was a little girl and came to admire her as a woman as I became one, as much as I read almost every word Pat Conroy wrote or watched Alan Rickman bring memorable characters to life, I haven’t really lost anyone this year – not in the way many people have. I haven’t buried children or suffered with sick parents or mourned the laughter of a friend.
My own health is good (though I could stand to get my ass to the gym). My career, which floundered for a few years, seems to be back on track (though I have come to accept that Disposable Income is a myth, like unicorns and tasty low-calorie chocolate). My personal life, though perhaps unrecognizable from a year ago, is in many ways a more peaceable place.
I don’t say all this to tempt the universe into taking umbrage at my good fortune and striking down bits of it. I’m just trying to shake this fog, thicker than the billows that obscured the ocean on the last day of a holiday trip to Folly Beach, that has settled into my brain and body and heart as this year keeps bashing us about its hard-walled sides.
The election and its wake continue to weigh on me. Each day, I fasten my safety pin and get the coffee creamer from a fridge with a thank-you note from Planned Parenthood for my measly contribution pinned to the door. I try to stay motivated in the fight. Some days feel like progress; others pointless.
As much as I long for 2017, I know its predecessor has wrought irrevocable changes. Pitchers and catchers report in 45 days, but Opening Day won’t be the very pleasant good evening it’s been my entire life. College football will soon crown a new national champion, and my daddy’s team is once again in the mix to claim the title, but the sport’s deep-seated vein of entitlement and misogyny is getting harder and harder to compartmentalize. (It is not alone in this, to be sure.) The NFL’s on-field product declines while its off-field issues fester. The specter of long-awaited NCAA sanctions hangs over the heads of top-tier college basketball programs even as conference play heats up.
Still, I hope. I hope to eventually be able to stomach news reports and magazine covers detailing our political reality, even as I find meaningful ways to combat it. I hope to find new music and movies to appreciate, though old loves will never lose their place. I hope happiness I once envisioned is still possible, in a modified but familiar form.
I hope my Gamecocks give South Florida a game in the Birmingham Bowl, which kicks off in a little more than two hours. I hope my Dodgers make it to the World Series. I hope Vin enjoys retirement for a long, long time.
I know 2017 will not be immune to the problems that have permeated 2016. But I am done with this year and its constant sorrow. It’s time to walk on through. Walk till you run, and don’t look back.
As this New Year’s Day approaches, I have seldom been as ready to begin again.