Fine in ’09, Whine in ’09

This time last year, I was sitting on HMOKeefe’s sofa, probably into a bottle of wine and watching a movie. Periodically peering out the window to look at the snow.

I was to have left Massachusetts on New Year’s Eve, but my flight was cancelled due to an impending storm. I was confused as I could be. The Yankees were acting like a bunch of Appalachians in panic over snow that hadn’t started yet. My flight was cancelled hours before the first flake.

It had been an eventful trip. Leaving Charleston, I missed my flight because I couldn’t find a parking spot (yes, at Yeager) and I couldn’t get through security in time (yup) to make my plane. It seems that the VFW from Logan, I think, had decided to go on a cruise. Everyone in town went to the airport to see them off. Do you have any idea how long it takes to get through security when you have to explain, describe, and tut tut about every metal piece involved in knee and hip replacements? Appalachians are nothing if not chatty and polite. There was no way to hurry those folk and nothing for security to do but listen to tales of surgeries.

Anyway. There I am in Yankee-Land with a cancelled flight and no snow on the ground. The snow did arrive – six to eight inches of it – certainly not a big deal by their standards.

Originally, I had wanted to leave New Year’s Day. There’s a tradition that you should be doing at midnight what you want to be doing for the whole of the year. As scheduled, I was going to spend midnight leaving the parking garage of Yeager. But I was told, definitively, all the flights for the 1st were booked. And, so, alas.

The snow came, the snow plows came, and USAir rescheduled my flight for the 1st. Go figure. I went.

HMOKeefe and I had celebrated New Year’s Eve on the 30th with lobster and champagne at home. We’d burned logs in the fireplace, had carnal relations, talked and laughed a great deal and were probably sound asleep by 10 p.m. There are some aspects of middle age I really like – in this example, the leaving behind of midnight frenzies with bunches of drunks.

I’ve had my fair share of midnight frenzies with bunches of drunks. I’ve been one of the drunks. I’ve been single, married, and about to be divorced on New Year’s. In retrospect, the New Year’s Eves I’ve enjoyed the most have always been the ones I spent at home.

My New Year’s as a single person must have been decidedly uneventful, because I can’t bring anything to mind – good or bad. I never sat alone at home and I only remember a couple of big bashes, but there’s not a Woo Hoo or an Oh No in my memory.

My married years were mostly uneventful. Sometimes, we’d go out for dinner. Sometimes not. Sometimes I’d cook a lavish meal. Sometimes it was take-out pizza. For many years, New Year’s Eve was spent in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin with extended family – sometimes a quiet time; sometimes a big house party. A few times, the party petered out and everyone was snoozing long before midnight.

One memorable year, 1999/2000, I got my one and only speeding ticket in Kentucky escaping the Great Frozen North. It had been a week where the family dynamics had gotten completely out of hand and I needed to be home. I had fumed through Wisconsin and Illinois. I had seethed through Indiana. By Kentucky, I smelled home and the mountains were wrapping themselves around me like an old, comfortable quilt. The speed was exhilarating. The thought of my house, my bed, and people I liked was intoxicating.

The cop cut me a break. I had been clocked at 89. I must have been coasting at that second, because I had been doing 93. He wrote the ticket for 74. I never disputed the ticket; paid it gladly. I was home or near enough.

A few years ago, before the bone marrow transplant, HMOKeefe and I dressed to the nines and went to dinner at Savannah’s (Huntington’s fine dining restaurant). I wore full-length Donna Karan, pearls, and spectacular shoes. He wore a great suit and a crisp white shirt. We spent hours eating, came home, and were probably actually awake at midnight. It was lovely. Really lovely. I wouldn’t want to do it every year, but I would like to do it now and again.

It’s the first time I can remember seeing in the New Year in years and it was the last time since.

So. There’s this tradition that at midnight you should be doing what you hope to do all year.

I’ll be sleeping. Despite hours and hours of sleep the past week, I still can’t get enough. It seems I’ve settled into a pattern of long, winter naps. I get up for a few hours, attend to some cleaning and organizing, and crawl back into bed for a couple of hours. Rinse and repeat. I would like to wake tomorrow fully rested and restored. That would make for a terrific 2010.

There is no intention, whatsoever, of seeing midnight tonight. There’s a bottle of champagne in the refrigerator left over from my birthday party. I’ve taken it out a few times thinking to open it and then put it back. I’ve been on Facebook and Twitter twaddling on about how pathetic it is to be spending New Year’s Eve napping and checking friends’ status updates.

It doesn’t really feel pathetic. It’s kind of nice.

I was supposed to be in Massachusetts today. It didn’t work out. While I’m distressed to have broken the tradition of seeing HMOKeefe at this time of year, I have also enjoyed this week at home. It was downtime sorely needed.

I am a homebody that doesn’t get much home time these days. I’ve been a homebody for decades now. Even when single, I spent far more time at home than did my friends. For years and years, my idea of a good weekend has been one where I don’t have to leave my hill.

The holidays always wipe me out. I am tired of it all long before Christmas Day arrives. The hustle and bustle just gets too intense, too frenzied, too loud, too-everything. I am ready to close the year down, pack it up, and whip out a new calendar. I don’t want to erase the year, but I do want to put it away and reflect on it later. Maybe.

I’ve had a week of not leaving the hill.  I’ve wallowed in the quiet peace of it.

This has been an exceptionally challenging year; 2010 looks to share some of the same problems.

This has been an exceptionally good year. 2010 looks to share some of the same blessings.

Fine in ’09 and Whine in’09 have been the yin and yang of the past 365 days. The coming year, I have dubbed Total Zen in 2010. Every year, my wish is to be bored, for just a day or two or three, and every year I am everything but. Still. For 2010, hope springs eternal. The Drama Queen pines for a drama-free existence.

May midnight find you where you want to be, doing what you want to do, with those you want to be with.  May your only drama be that spent in a floodlight accompanied by applause.

4 thoughts on “Fine in ’09, Whine in ’09

  1. You’ve had a time of it the past year, good and bad. As have most of us. Seems to me that as I get older, life and relationships become more complex, more problematic, more enjoyable, and ever so much more interesting. Like you, the past year had some down sides, and a good bit of awkwardness. But all in all, it was a good year for us, with all sons stateside, everyone keeping their jobs and no major health crises.

    I really enjoyed this post, btw. Your introspection offers much food for thought for your readers. Good health and safe travels to you this year, my friend.

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