Auld Lang Syne
On December 31, 2017 I was 6 months pregnant with swollen legs and feet and bad heartburn. I was working a part-time job at Apple at a Mall in Nashville which taught me a humility I didn’t realize I needed to learn and was, surprisingly, a fun way to spend a few hours, as I was always the one the older folks would find, ambling up to me and saying “I’m a tech idiot and I really need someone to explain this cloud thing to me.” I always felt like that job was a kind of walking meditation and prayer – practicing patience and kindness, explaining things with slow metaphors while the bright flourescent lights and loud pop music threatened at the edge of my center. We had closed on our new home, my first house purchase, a big girl step, and had moved on the 30th. I’m pretty sure we didn’t really do much on New Year’s Eve. I probably came home from work, feet swollen, and collapsed on the couch and fell asleep by 10pm. It’s one of those evenings where people are posting their Best of 2018 lists, all their accomplishments, their gold star, fireworks moments. Some are brave enough to post their great disappointments. Of course. That’s what Year End Lists are for, aren’t they? For us to reflect on the hours we have passed and to self-assess: were we good? were we good enough? It’s a kind of spiritual practice to stay in the moment and not do that, to not lean into the ‘enoughness’ of any of it, for in there lies the devil of judgement. We all want to love New Year’s Eve. We want to dress in gold glitter and be our best selves, surrounded by our best friends, with love at the edges of the storyboard, ready to sweep us into it’s promise as the ball drops in the big city and the sirens roar. And we all know it’s a false dream. The party mostly disappoints. We get stuck in traffic, in bad weather, in argument. The kiss never happens. We wake up hungover and hungry.
I spent 20 years in New York City. Living there was the fulfillment of a childhood dream – to live in “The Village”. To be an artist in Greenwich Village, Soho, Brooklyn. It took me a while to get the City in my bloodstream, and when it took, I was home. But I never belonged.
I once was invited to the Penthouse NYE Party of a Famously Fabulous Editor of a Glossy Magazine. I remember being stuffed into a cab with a handful of other drunk, overdressed friends, speeding downtown to get to her apartment in time for the ball drop. I’m not sure if we made it. I remember feeling rushed. Rushed to get to THE place. So that we would be at THE party. Which was full of people in magazines and I think I ate crab rangoons and drank champagne in the corner with a guy with a cocaine mustache and felt lonely.
I once worked with Lainie Kazan, the actress and singer, and she’d play The Rainbow Room at the top of Rockefeller Plaza every New Year’s Eve and I wore a velvet long mermaid like dress to be the hostess/personal assistant for her show, welcoming Gregory Hines and Bette Midler and Dan Rather and Abe Vigoda and what seemed like the entire cast of The Sopranos well before that show was even written. I had brought a date, some actor who was very pretty and very smart but mean to me, and I let the glitter swirl around and drank champagne and laughed with everyone and I felt lonely.
I once stood on the roof of a building in Soho, a roof in Hoboken, another in Brooklyn, with a clear view of the NYC skyline and the fireworks, with glasses of champagne and cheap laughter and false promises and real hopes and dreams, some of which have happened, most I have forgotten.
I was lonely.
I have been to the fabulous New Years Eve Party. It was a bust.
I would like to go back to that 20something30something woman in a party dress in NYC and tell her this story about this past year, the year I turned 50. I’d like to tell her to hold on.
2018 was the year I had a baby. I am madly in love with my husband, my 2nd husband, which means there has been a 1st husband, which, further, means there has been failure. Big failure. But the failing of that one – and the subsequent few years of trainwreck tumbling and grasping at others to save me from the codependent wine-soaked blindness that was killing me – is exactly what had to happen for me to be here: madly in love with a man I see clearly for exactly who he is and love him for all of it. Pregnant and newly mothered, this year, I made a record with my favorite collaborator who is now nominated for a Grammy for another record and it’s a quiet record and I’m not sure how or where it will land but I am content with it in a way I have not yet been artistically content previously. In 2018, I decided to say outloud that I am writing a book or a thing and I’m doing it and committing to it. Also, and not leastly, I think I finally figured out the right chemistry of the perfectly crisp and chewy thin chocolate chip cookie.
In 2018, I have somehow managed to continue to figure out how to make all these pieces fit together in a way that is perfectly chaotic and beautifully messy. I’m done with the champagne toasts, racing from one scene to another. I’m done with chasing the kiss in a cab. I like that my husband and I agree that our gold star goal is about getting to the couch in our comfy sweats with our beautiful son asleep and well fed.
I look up to women who walk through life toward the 2nd half with extraordinary honesty. Joan Didion. Patti Smith. Amy Kurland. Kathy Mattea. Elizabeth Crooks. Marshall Chapman. Beth Nielsen Chapman. Mary Gauthier. My mother. My mother in law. My friend Doug Williams’ mother. My late grandmother.
Here, on the last day of 2018, I want to write that it’s been a privilege to share 2018 with all of you out there in the virtual world. It’s a weird weird thing, this communion we have. We mock it. We despise it. We are addicted to it. We want pithy pathos. We don’t want length and over-share. So forgive me for the length of this missive, but my son is napping and I have a few minutes before my husband and I will put on something less comfortable than sweats so that we can spend a few hours with our dearest friends at a perfectly hip, perfectly low-key, perfectly Inglewood New Years Eve party without pretension, with a whole lot of love and gratitude for the 365 days we just shared together. I will brush my hair and put on something fun, as costume, for I now know it as costume not skin and can enjoy the play. And tonight, I will kiss my beautiful son and dreamy husband but most likely all of this will happen well before midnight and we will be cozy and asleep as fireworks go off somewhere over the river for a younger set of dreamers who will think of 50 as a land beyond their imagination, as old, as irrelevant and tired, as a landscape without fantasy and color. Those crazy kids…wait till they see what I have seen… The fireworks I see from here are way brighter now than they were from the racing taxi rides of my seemingly extraordinary youth.
This is where we belong. To each other. To ourselves, finally. To God or god or Goddess or The RiverBird or your own Council of Mermaids. In the quiet of companionship, whether that is with ourselves, another human, a plant or a dog. Or a cat (although I’m iffy on cats).
May we all have an explosively quiet and extraordinarily ordinary New Year’s Eve.