About a year ago, I set the following resolutions for 2011:
I’ll fall in love with flowers
and cheese and muscat grapes
the sounds of slow trains on tracks
and the scent of your sun-warmed skin
wizened tree trunks
painting with bold color
and writing final drafts
the sensation of clinging to high cliff walls
and skiing down powdery slopes
my plane landing on unfamiliar runways
and sand between my toes
bright morning light reflecting off the water
and late-night skies full of stars.
It’s funny….just a couple of nights ago, I was lying in a forest in Yosemite, looking up at a night sky (like the one in the video above) so thick with stars that it was hard to believe it was real. And it seemed more than apt that that was the final item on my list for the year, given that it was my final adventure of 2011.
When I wrote that list, I had no idea that this year would hold so many exciting trips: to Belgium/Paris/Provence/London, Portland (a few times), NYC/New England, Montreal, Salt Lake City/Logan, Santa Barbara/Ventura (twice), Silicon Valley (twice), Washington DC, Big Bear, Yosemite, Flagstaff, and to Pasadena/LA too many weekends to count.* My travel bag is always packed-at-the-ready for whatever opportunities might come my way to jet away or hit-the-road at a moment’s notice. My Prius has been a constant and reliable companion on many a western highway, and my passport sports several new marks.
Last New Year’s Day I started my new life, driving back to a place with half of the furniture and household goods gone. Since then I’ve moved, established a life on my own, and have filled in the various empty spaces (both physically and metaphorically). I feel comfortable alone–whether in a coffeeshop, a cafe, or in a bed at night. I can now manage my finances and to make plans for my future. Around me is a community of women that I can draw on for support or to aid in decision-making. A few very close friends are a lifeline on those days when I am weepy or scared (thank you, thank you, thank you–those of you who’ve spent more than a few long dark nights at my side). Along the way I’ve faced some of my worst fears: a rat infestation, a car accident, the prolonged death of a beloved pet. Entertaining for friends resulted in some spectacular parties, whether to mark a holiday or an event or simply to spend time together. And, oh, the food I’ve eaten this year(!)–whether from my own kitchen or along the road, and I’ve been willing to try nearly anything, from beef carpaccio to trout amandine to grilled lamb to rillettes to Flemish stew. I’ve tippled pastis and local wine and even a whisky or two, as well as enjoying my afternoon cuppa in cafes across the globe.
Keeping a rather frenetic momentum this past year helped get me past many of my fears about the future–I just jumped in and did things instead of fretting too much beforehand. traveling internationally on just a few hours notice, meeting up with strangers without worrying about whether it was a ‘good hair day,’ speaking really bad french, starting conversations in the Starbucks line or with someone also sitting alone in a cafe, getting on the rock wall without feeling self-conscious about my novice-skills, learning to solve thorny IT problems with common sense and patience, talking about my academic research with anyone willing to listen, taking photos with my new camera, and walking into ocean waves.
However, while the memories of travel are the highlights of the year, the most significant elements remain: having primary custody of the children and supporting them through an important year of their lives, holding a job that challenges and stimulates me everyday, and…opening my heart to romance again after being hurt so badly by the breakup of my marriage. That last one, it’s been the hardest (as many of you probably know from experience). The fear of rejection and the expectation of deception looming so large after the divorce, resulting in my being emotionally aloof for many months of dating and in my fragility as I began to trust a partner once again.
My song of the year is “Glitter in the Air” by Pink (video below). I discovered it early on in 2011, and listened to it nearly every morning as I drank my coffee and greeted my day: oftentimes in a bit of a panic about an uncertainty or a big decision looming ahead, or facing the possibility of being hurt (again). It inspired me to surrender to whatever might happen, and to move forward despite how scared I felt inside.
So in 2011 my guiding principal was to keep moving–especially to move through fear. I’ve felt like if I let myself slow down, I would get mired in regret or in self-pity. But I think the time for that fast pace is now past. In 2012, I’m looking forward to settling in a bit more, returning to my projects (like my history podcast and Anthologize), living a bit slower and quieter, developing daily routines that include regular early-morning ocean paddling, strengthening my ties with friends, and prioritizing my professional development. I expect that I will still travel often (a trip to Venice is already looming on the horizon and there are also some possibilities of other places in Europe or Asia, too), but with a bit less frequency than this past year. It looks likely that 2012 will bring an ’empty nest’ to chez Remy–both kids pursuing educational opportunities that will take them out of state (and perhaps out of the country). Such a huge change up ahead for them, for me, and for our family.
To mark this new phase of my life…my biggest goal of 2012 is to find a home–not a rented temporary space like where I now live, but a place where I walk in the door at night and know just where I am. Where the kitchen is familiar, where morning light comes in the front window, where there’s a garden of flowers and herbs. In my imagination my home has plaster walls and creaky wood floors and a porch with a wicker chair. I don’t know if all of those details will happen for sure, but I know that it will be a tidy and cozy place where friends can gather (for tea and poetry and talking long into the night) and where the kids can return on holidays. It’s a big step for a pilgrim to put down her roots and settle in for awhile. But I’m so ready now.
*Yes, my carbon footprint is through-the-roof this year…