It's New Year's Eve -- Happy New Year everybody! It's funny, I really LOVE the idea of a new year laying ahead of us (like a board game path of all blank spaces we get to fill in ourselves) but I'm not so into celebrating the Eve. We used to give in to the pressure and make reservations somewhere "cool" where the prices were mysteriously tripled for the night and it was crowded and the service bad and you'd kiss at midnight and drink your tiny champagne and that was that. I'm so not a party girl!
For the much-vaunted Millennial eve, Jim and I and our friends Richard and Nadine decided to be far from any potential Y2K disasters (not that we really believed in it) and booked really great hotel rooms in Yosemite with hot tubs and fire places, with the intention of cross-country skiing and ignoring all the hoopla. The problem was there was NO SNOW that year. So we actually hiked the Mist Trail on New Year's Eve! That's unheard of in January! It glittered with icicles and was so, so lovely. All good so far. The problem came with our decision to take advantage of the pass being open to Mammoth Lakes -- again, unheard of in January! So we went and saw Mono Lake and did wintery things and then. . . a flake of snow fell. And they closed the pass. With us on the wrong side. That is, on the opposite side from our hot tubs. I can't even tell you what a misery it was -- we had to drive north almost all the way to Tahoe to the next pass!!!!! I think it turned what should have been a 45-minute drive into a 9-hour one. Something like that. We almost hit a deer, night fell, the road got icy. We told our life stories in turn to pass the time.
Things like that make your realize how easy our lives are -- those passes weren't always there! Could I have been a pioneer wife? I don't know. I like the thought of the adventure of it, but without the risk and the numbing endless work. Can you imagine moving your family someplace where you know there will be no doctor, no police, no fire department. Nowadays we check ambulance response times before moving to a new zip code. Seriously, could you move your children someplace with no doctor? Imagine how powerful the dream of a new life must have been, of owning land, of owning horizon that drove people to take such risks.
And all over the world, every day, people go to refugee camps with their children, or flee into the unknown with nothing. I didn't mean this post to lead here, for god's sake. Who knew? I have terrible fears for the world, for the rising tide of fundamentalism and the extreme and horrifying conflagration of hatred that our idiot leader has fanned like a gleeful freaking pyromaniac. I feel like such a baby having my simplistic thoughts, my selfish thoughts, wanting a safe place to live, a planet that is not being choked by pollution, people not being slaughtered, and no impending doom creeping my way. Or anyone's way. I just want to be cozy most of the time, and explore our beautiful world some of the time, and have it be safe and prosperous, with family planning and clean water and no war. We have this amazing thing, this planet spinning in space, full of mountains and tigers and ice floes and volcanoes, weird fruit and weird bats, people of every color speaking hundreds of languages and tattooing themselves with magical runes and braiding their hair and wearing silk and leather and nothing; we have cities, art, bridges, the flowering of our magnificent minds, we have medicine, water filtration, sewage treatment, agriculture. We have mangoes for god sake! Why do we have to kill each other? Why can't we just eat each other's food and buy each other's art and learn each other's languages so we can hear each other's epics, fireside, with moonshine, with cocoa, with drumming, with dancing, with foot rubs? Why why why why why????
I don't have high hopes for this year on that score. Hatred will mount. Body counts will rise. Most of us, with a few exceptions won't see much of it except on TV, if even that. I don't have a positive way to wrap up this post except to say that I hope this year can be good in small ways. I hope our new Democratic congress can begin to unpick the terrible snarl the Republicans have made, though that is a job I wouldn't wish on anyone. I hope that I and you and others can have moments of beauty and success, and that the good people in the world working for positive change make some headway against the ignorance and nastiness.
I hope. Hopeful New Year.