Thinking About 2017

Thinking About 2017

I don't know what's on my mind this evening.

I could talk about the piney smell in my apartment and how my old dog Henry used to lap up all the minty water in the base of our Christmas trees and lick his jowls when he'd trot out from under the tinsel and the lights and the ornaments in search of his next ear rub.

I could talk about the end of Stuart Little, a book about uncertainty and endings and hope and love. How a mouse meets a bird and loves that bird and loses that bird, so he takes a chance. He loved her whistle and her wings, so off he went to find her:

Stuart rose from the ditch, climbed into his car, and started up the road that led toward the north. The sun was just coming up over the hills on his right. As he peered ahead into the great land that stretched before him, the way seemed long. But the sky was bright, and he somehow felt he was headed in the right direction.

I could talk about Joe, the man I visit on Hospice care whose 92nd Christmas I will, in part, share with him. I don't know if we'll talk about The Korean War, the travesty of Joe DiMaggio beating Ted Williams out in the 1941 MVP race, or whether we'll sit, as we sometimes do, in silence. The radio on a gentle classical music station, his eyes mostly closed, his thumbs doing their twiddles.

I could talk about what 2017 looked like, all that I learned and saw and dealt with and traveled to and tried to accomplish and accomplished and failed at and ate and wondered about and worried about and wrote about. I could list rivers and oceans I was lucky enough to swim in. What it felt like to float in The Dead Sea and stand in the old walled city of Jerusalem. How there seems to be a word I haven't yet found to describe Crete.

I could talk about the words and ideas and things that matter to me, each passing year giving them texture and depth: kindness, love, moments, simplicity, curiosity. And the words and ideas and things I'm tempted to add but don't want to make it absurdly long: Opening Day, homemade sushi, the playlist that has my favorite songs, a room lit up by Christmas lights, middle of the night quizzes about presidents and characters and countries and flags, racing and racing and racing, falling back in love with the Hundred Acre Wood, watching your nieces and nephew meet their Patronus for the first time, champagne for the hell of it, letters for the hell of it, books everywhere, fireplaces and meatballs, a family that continues to teach you what questions are and what support means and how to show love and celebrate moments.

I could talk about how lucky I am. How truly truly lucky I am. How much I try and say thanks for all I've been afforded. How it will never be enough.

I could talk about some of my favorite stories of the year: singing karaoke at an Applebee's during a Spring Training trip with my brother. Watching my Mom climb the stairs to a rooftop restaurant under the Parthenon in Athens and cover her mouth when she saw us all there -- will anyone ever forget that surge of emotion? Her face? More Mom: our two weeks in Greece, our wonderful road-trip to Massachusetts, and the message after message that I would get from her throughout the year that had me stop in my tracks -- a more distinct voice, one that suggests love with each syllable, I simply don't know. Getting into an Uber Pool and getting out (in a rather unexpected turn of events) at a Led Zeppelin cover band concert. Watching friends fall in love and take chances. Having a sleepover with my nephew and three nieces, using every possible chance to talk about Harry Potter with a new and excited audience (AND hear my youngest niece's incessant songs). Watching Ellie run her first marathon, on a day that was rainy at points and gladly so, because then some of the happy tears were more easily concealable. And another race, one that I did with my two sisters and brother -- and a photo for the ages because goodness goodness, how fun was that. And maybe most searingly, a specific conversation I had with my Dad, one that matters to me more and more and more.

I could talk about the writing project I'm working on, one I've been talking about forever, but one that's taken quite the journey to find the motivation for. How that, mostly, I owe to my brother. 

I could talk about the little dog, Gracie, who lives on my street and who I've seen go from the most adorable little puppy to one of those wonderful dogs that has one ear up and one ear down -- is there a better image of curiosity than that?

I could talk about the quote that leads this post. It's what Barack Obama supposedly said to his speechwriter before he delivered a eulogy for a slain pastor in Charleston. Amazing Grace -- that is, the text of the song -- was in his speech, and he was supposed to speak it. And before he did, he thought better of it, word becoming song.

I could talk about the holes in my favorite jeans, the new little hole in the pocket of my favorite jacket, or the fundamental truth that the best beanies have pom-poms on them.

Oh, there's so much more. But it's Christmas Eve and perhaps it'd just be nice to pour a glass of wine with people I love and listen to some Christmas songs and from time-to-time look hopefully out the window for some snow.

So please, oh please, we beg, we pray / Go throw your TV set away / And in its place you can install / A lovely bookshelf on the wall…

So please, oh please, we beg, we pray / Go throw your TV set away / And in its place you can install / A lovely bookshelf on the wall…

The Last Words of a Man I Barely Knew

The Last Words of a Man I Barely Knew