It must be December. Year-end lists are appearing with the ten best and worst everything. Friends will soon be sending their personal chronicle for 2016. All a way of punctuating time, wrapping up one chapter and starting a new one. If only this past year could be so easily dismissed.
Looking over my shoulder has become a habit I’m not likely to break at this age. My body has been insulted here and there with scans, blockages and biopsies just as the body politic has quaked the needle off the Richter scale. Organs are making noise and it isn’t Bach. Nor is it Barack in macro terms.
We are still listing seismically from the election trying to retrofit ourselves. Hillary fumbled the ball while levitating toward the glass ceiling and with a sleight of hand Donald flipped a three million vote deficit into a landslide victory leaving us scratching our heads and gnashing our teeth for the next four years. It isn’t even officially winter yet but we’ve already begun our discontent.
The little list I don’t have shall never be missed. Lists are too vertical and hierarchical. And besides my short-term memory blurs after a week or two. Who can remember back to February and March? What I do recall turns out to have happened three years ago. Or never.
I can report that this past summer four bookcases were divested of their books which I hope have found new homes. We still have ten others crammed with voices in constant conversation. The pre-eminent short story writer, William Trevor, died last month. Every book he wrote remains on our shelves. I intend to re-read each one next year,
Our extended tribe has increased by a significant one; Ilaria by name. My daughters and steps continue on their respective journeys, some more arduous than others. I was about to say that friends have died but I think that was the year before. Each is still very much present for me. Time collapses and swells like the respiration of an accordion.
We now have a new car, called Blanca, actually 2-3 years old but as yet undented like our previous one. White doesn’t show dirt easily but it does reveal scratches which I’m sure will appear given my proclivity to squeeze into cramped parking spaces.
There are no travels to recount except those excursions by family and friends which have taken us vicariously from Portugal to Patagonia, from Myanmar to the Scottish Highlands. Judy, our intrepid photographer friend, provides us with near-daily wonderments her eye plucks from the passing parade.
Great writing deserves mention just so I’ll remember if I re-read it this next year. Two recent books which rank high are The Sporting Life by C.E. Morgan and The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell. Both novels describe lives I would not otherwise ever know and they do it with language that sings. We just now watched what I crown the movie-of-the-year, Neruda, brilliant conception, performances and mythical in its power and poetry.
2016 also saw the birth of Peggy’s book of poems, Under the Unwed Moon, published by Letters at 3 A.M. Press. Her poetry continues to amaze; how she transforms the quotidian into her realm of otherness, sometimes edgy, sometimes a sensory feast. I close the year in this intoxication, this lift. As daylight decreases we can find incandescence in transport and love. Two essentials on my list.