New Year’s cards

I’ve never really been able to get into Rosh Hashanah cards. They make sense under two conditions: when you have far-off friends you don’t really see or talk to over the course of the year, and when you have little ones (or grown ones) to report on. Since I’m too young to fall into either category, and since I think my parents still include my doings in their card, I’m left feeling like I should say something but feel ridiculous sending cards out to people I just talked to last week.

But this has been a hell of a year, and I think it needs some reflection and sharing.

This time last year I was visiting my grandfather every day after work. I’d never been very close to him, in the beginning I went more out of a sense of shame and regret that I hadn’t done the same for my Uncle Roger when he was dying. I often didn’t know what to say or how to make myself useful, but we fell into a routine, I became more comfortable teasing him, and I ended up feeling both a sense of peace and a sense of loss when he died. This past year, I’ve watched my dad go through the process of mourning, watching the minute shifts in his personality as he comes to terms with his memories of his father. I’m counting the days until he can listen to a classical music concert again, and seeing him without the charming beard he’s grown, seeing him more like he’s always looked.

Every Yom Kippur, examining my life, I try and find one thing to change for the coming year. It’s said you can only make a full contrition to God if you don’t intend to start up the same behavior right after Yom Kippur, so I try and focus on the thing that feels most shameful and personal when I read the list of communal sins. (With the exception of slash. I’m trying to be good, but not that good.)

So last Yom Kippur I promised myself I’d be more present in my relationships instead of living on autopilot most of the time. I took a long, hard look at things, made some changes that were painful but necessary and ended up falling in love with Sam, who is amazing and wonderful and makes me happier than I have ever been in my life. Every moment with him is a joy and an adventure, and if I’m not present, I’ll miss something wonderfully important. And for our fourth date, we ended up going to Mardi Gras, something so far outside my ordinary, autopilot life I would never have taken a chance on it before. Looking at the devastation there now, I’m so glad we decided not to wait for next year. I’m starting to realize that next year doesn’t always come, that your life is what you do now, not what you intend to do later.

And on that note, as most of you know, I’m looking at grad schools. I’m terrified of change and upheaval, I hate selling myself to universities, but I’ve been at the same job for four years and I’ve learned all they can teach me. It’s time to move on, before I calcify and can’t conceive of going out into the big, scary world anymore.


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