There is the most beautiful, gentle snow falling outside and there is a cardinal at the bird feeder out in the back yard. I'm sitting in my quiet, pre-dawn house, thinking about the past decade and wondering about the one approaching fast. (And watching the puppy peel a tennis ball. He's very talented.)
I'm not the same person I was on the last day of 1999, partying on the beach in Galveston, drinking Dom Perignon for the first (and last) time in my life. For one thing, I now have TWO children and a mini-van and the lines on my face aren't there because I slept with my face smooshed into a pillow. I've earned them.
Also? I'm not living in Texas anymore. And living in New York will change a person, fundamentally in some ways. In fact, I'd wager that I changed more in the past two years than in the rest of the decade combined. Some of that has to do with experiencing life with chronic pain. I cannot state strongly enough how terrible that is --on one's psyche, on one's spirit, on one's spiritual connection with the rest of the world. It's sort of like being encased in a dark box, with only a small shaft of light. You keep staring at that light but you can't really see anything because you're so overwhelmed by all of that darkness. Still, you know there's life out there if you could only see it.
Anyway, my pain is managed, for the most part. And it's New Year's Eve and we have our good friends Mike, Sherry and Jesse (also Texas ex-pats) coming over to celebrate with us. It's very different from the big party we used to throw every year in Austin --most people up here have large extended families and they've grown up celebrating with them on every holiday and that's what they're doing THIS New Year's Eve, too. It's interesting to me that this is the most densely populated area in the United States and I have the smallest social life I've ever had. I don't THINK it's because I talk (or smell) funny, either. I don't THINK it's a personal thing. I think it's just that the greatest difference between Austin and Long Island (and I've thought about this a lot --in fact, I am working on a book about it) is that Austinites are almost all from somewhere else and looking to connect, and people up here are from here and have plenty of connections, thank you.
But I digress. (I may be changed but I am still ME.)
Another big change for me this year is that I won't be toasting the New Year at midnight with anything alcoholic to drink. Yes, the reason the wine industry has fallen on such hard times of late is because I have given it up. Here, take a minute to sit down and put your head between your knees. I know it's a shock.
Initially, I gave it up because someone I love was having a very hard time with that particular demon and because I am so far away from this person and unable to do anything at all to help, it sort of made sense in my own Fuzzy, Squint-At-It, Barb Way to stop drinking FOR this person. So, I did.
But there were a few things I forgot. One is that I actively battle depression even on my good days and alcohol does not help in this fight. It's a depressant. (Smacks self on head--Doh!) Also, while I don't think I have a problem with alcohol, per se, I really do have a problem with MODERATION. Um. In everything. So, trying to simply cut down was not especially successful.
I don't know if it's forever (here, breathe into this bag--you look a little shaken) and I'm not working some sort of 12-step program. I'm just not drinking. I don't care if other people around me drink and I'm not saying this choice is right for everyone. I wouldn't even mention it except, y'all, I feel FREAKING FANTASTIC. It's hard to describe, actually. I just feel... MORE. Which is a scary concept for most people but it feels really, really good to me. I have energy and patience and creativity -- I even started taking guitar lessons. Plus, my sense of humor seems to be about three times as big. Gosh, I'm having such a good time with my kids and even my husband has commented that I just seem more like my old self--positive and happy.
(No, I haven't lost any weight. Sigh. That moderation thing again.)
So, you know, I feel so amazingly good that I wanted to share. That's all.
I'm looking forward to this new decade so much and I think that 2010 is going to see some wonderful, giant blessings for all of us. I think we'll all grow and change and that we'll find connections with each other on levels we didn't even suspect existed. Thank you all for staying on the ride with me. I'll see you next year.