Life Unopened

by rsbakker

Aphorism of the Day: The only thing new about the year is how bloody old you’re getting.

I intended to post over the holidays – Christ, I intended to do a lot of things over the holidays. But we were simply overrun, with shrieking, santa-mad, little girls for the most part. But friends and relatives as well… and booze. Christmas and New Years are always a strange time. There’s the calendar and all that, the changing of the guard on that little corner called ‘date’ on everything you sign. But it’s the people that really mark the passage of time. You, know, that uncle you only see once every holiday, who always manages to shock you into saying, ‘Did you see how old he’s getting?’ on the drive home – year after year after year.

That’s how we reckon our passage: the annual holiday survey of our cohort and others, the aging mobs, still getting drunk, still giggling the way they did getting baked behind the gymnasium when they were sixteen years old. All these kids, you think, wearing their parents’ and grandparents’ clothes – which is to say, skin. And those strangers – who invited them? And then there’s the gaps, the missing giggles, the way the ranks have been thinned.

A part of me always wakes up over the holidays, even as other parts take the chance to snooze. A part me wonders as I participate, thoughts warm and complicated. I’m nice. Everyone is nice. And it’s nice that we’re all so nice. It’s beautiful that forgetting is so effortless. A part of me wakes up and understands what it means to sleep, to roar with happy delirium, bringing in the Mayan year of doom.

Going into the holidays, I had resolved to not leave the ‘Bestiary’ up – what kind of Christmas message was that? 2012? That’s your end? Here’s an apocalypse for you…

I wanted to be nice. Lot’s of people talking, which means lots of people following up on the web about this and that. What kind of way is that to greet prospective readers?

But then I thought, fuck it. I’m not quite sure why.

That said, humans are still behind the literary wheel. And The White-Luck Warrior was fortunate enough to make it onto a handful of best of 2011 lists. In a bundle of rooms on a cold continent on a world that is a speck in a universe as vast and old as itself, I watched my little girl grasp the wonder of the gift for the first time, and for that moment the present was my present, unopened, and warm to the touch.

Welcome to 2012.