I sat down to write this article a few days ago and ended up completely scrapping what I’d written. The original version was too explicit and too whiny; it was like sending a meal back at a restaurant with a line item list of what was wrong with it, including the original position of every single hair with before and after photos. No one needs that much information about something that, in the grand scheme of things, means nothing.
And really that’s what 2008 seems to mean to me: nothing. Looking back on it makes it clear that this year was terrible, if perhaps not as roll-in-the-dirt-with-dragons bad as 2001. But why?
I thought about writing this article about my family. My immediate family is great and always has been, but my extended family has either imploded or simply disappeared. No one out there cares to hear about the infighting on my dad’s side of the family following my grandmother’s death, especially since I was never very close to them anyway. My aunt Polly, the last scion of the Gramling family tree, going completely nuts is far more troubling and ongoing, but can I honestly say that that is what made this year baleful? I could, but it would be a lie.
The truth of the matter is that by any reasonable standard my life is pretty damn good. I have a good job, good friends, and other than the purgatory of having eye surgery this year my health is good as well. But what defines this year isn’t the sudden return of cash flow to my life, it’s the draining of hope from it. For an explanation of that, a brief trip in the Wayback machine is probably in order.
In most things I am a strong person. I can’t be bullied around professionally or socially by much of anyone, I don’t crack under pressure, and I freak out in high-stress situations. But every person has their flaws, and every wall has its cracks. As implacable as I am in all other areas of my life, there’s one place where anyone who’s known me more than a few years knows that I’m vulnerable. My response to this Achilles heel following being stabbed in it repeatedly in 2001 was the traditional one: become jaded and do your best to wall it off. For years I protected my feelings behind battlements, and it worked.
So if we take the years 2002 through 2007 (especially 2003 through 2006) as a repudiation of everything I believed about myself before the events of the turn of the millennium, what does that make 2007? Despite having no money and being horribly overstressed last year, the thoughts I have of it are all positive. Sure, some shit happened, but overall I remember it as the year where I realized that I wasn’t so fucked up that I couldn’t still hear the angels sing, that I could still give myself over to some things if I wanted to.
This year was long cluster fuck of events that laughed at my arrogance. So here I am again, sitting here wondering if I shouldn’t go back behind the palisades. Part of me again thinks that I should settle like so many others I know have. It’s certainly easier.
So I honestly don’t know what I’m going to be like in 2009. I do know I’m getting quite bored of the state of mind I’ve been in off-and-on throughout the latter half of 2008. Either I need to stop looking around for those damn cherubim with trumpets or I need to resign myself to the fact that they’ve only ever shown up twice before and they might never bother to trundle my way again.