Monday, January 05, 2009

A Cold Field, a Starry Sky

2009, and another year in Sacramento. We finished off 2008 in a style I could get accustomed to—spending only two of the last six weeks of the year actually in California. Our Christmas travels took us on an East Coast tour, from Pittsburgh to Rochester to Jacksonville. We had six flights in all, one of them through Chicago in the midst of a terrible snowstorm and hundreds of flight cancellations; yet we made it through unscathed. There were some tense moments, but we felt incredibly lucky—we overheard countless people being involuntarily bumped, with the next available flight not hours but days away.

Now here we are, another New Year’s Eve behind us. It was fine as far as New Year’s Eves go, a nice night in New Smyrna Beach, Florida with Andrew’s sister and college friends. My ideal New Year’s Eve, however, remains elusive. Over my desk hangs a Verlyn Klinkenborg column in which he talks about spending the Eve with his horses on his farm; this is as close as it gets to my perfect NYE:

“I always wonder what it would be like to belong to a species—just for a while—that isn’t so busy indexing its life, that lives wholly within the single long strand of its being. I will never have even an idea of what that’s like.
“I know because when I stand among the horses tonight, I will feel a change once midnight has come. Some need will have vanished, and I will walk back to the house—lights burning, smoke coming from the wood stove—as if something had been accomplished, some episode closed.”

That is the NYE I yearn for. No frippery, no flare, barely a registering of the clock ticking from one year to the next; just a cold snowy field, a starry sky, the crisp crack of footsteps as I walk to a warmly lit house for some hot chocolate, full of relief that those last drawn-out seconds of the year have passed, that the needling anticipation of a new year has finally given way to its beginning.

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